14 Simple and Actionable Ways to Reduce your Carbon footprint to 0

Is it possible to stop emitting CO2? No. Yet it is entirely possible to reduce your carbon footprint. Today, you're going to learn how to live a carbon negative life, in 14 simple steps.

Emanuel Skrobonja
Essentials
0 carbon emission

So you heard about global warming.

You know what’s causing it and you want to start taking action but you don’t know where to start?

If that’s the case, then you’ll love the actionable steps provided in this article.

Here’s a brief summary:

  1. Step 1 - Have one fewer child
  2. Step 2 - Buy green energy
  3. Step 3 - Be mindful about heating
  4. Step 4 - Choose more sustainable means of transport
  5. Step 5 - Choose “deforestation-free” products
  6. Step 6 - Source your food
  7. Step 7 - Save energy, save money
  8. Step 8 - Divest from fossil fuels
  9. Step 9 - Invest in renewables
  10. Step 10- Vote
  11. Step 11 - Get active in your community and share knowledge
  12. Step 12- Help put a price on Carbon
  13. Step 13 - Waste Less, Buy Less #minimalism
  14. Step 14 - Go carbon neutral

If you’re not sure what climate change is, and what’s causing it, read this article first.

It’s a good idea to print a checklist with a sum-up of these steps.

To do that, enter your email in the sidebar and click on the orange button.

It’s a good idea to print the checklist and paste it somewhere where you’ll see it often, as a reminder to take action.

(I pasted mine on my girlfriends forehead (Don’t try this at home))

Step 1 - Having one fewer child helps you reduce your carbon (Co2) footprint by almost 60 tonnes per year

Although this statement is often raising heated debates, it’s true.

Humans pollute the planet more than any other creature.

Throughout a lifetime, a person can expect to use 1870 barrels of oil for their energy needs, eat 1185 chickens and produce 10.4 million kg waste water (that’s 4 Olympic swimming pools of waste). (1)

Olympic swimming pool
Author: Patrickroque01

Now, that’s a lot…

So basically, if you’re driving an electric vehicle and you’re having 6 children your footprint will be high.

Probably even higher than that of a couple driving a Hummer.

Even if we’re doing our best effort to preserve the planet, we’re still polluting a shitload…

So if you do have kids, don’t have too many.

Most importantly, no matter how many kids we have, we need to raise an “eco-friendly” and conscious generation.

Step 2 - Buying green energy helps you reduce your carbon footprint by 1.5 tonnes

Windmil

This is easy and one of the most important steps that you can make.

Most of the world’s electricity is still being produced by burning fossil fuels.

In fact, the trend is still on the rise. (2)

It’s efficient, but it’s devastating for our planet.

Now, it doesn’t have to be like that.

In most countries, you can choose where your electricity will come from.

You can switch to a company which is generating electricity from renewable sources… or even nuclear power.

By switching to a more sustainable source, you’re reducing your CO2 emissions by over 1.5 TONS every year. (3)

Step 3 - Be mindful about heating

Burning wood

If you’re heating your home with electricity, great! You already took care of this problem in step 2.

If not, we’ll figure something out.

Here’s a list of the most sustainable ways to heat your home:

  • Electricity
  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Geothermal
  • Hydronic Heat Systems
  • Pellets
  • Sustainably sourced wood

Depending on which heating you choose, you can reduce your footprint drastically.

Step 4 - Live car free or do this

Woman biking

Bike or use public transport

If you live car free, you’ll reduce your Co2 footprint by over 2 tonnes. (3)

However, if the connections are poor, and you need a car, here’s what you can do.

Get an electric vehicle (EV)

EV

Depending on how your electricity is produced, an EV can help you reduce your carbon footprint by 58% per year (4)

If you’re having enough money on your bank account and you took the advice from step one, than an electric car is the best choice.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have the budget for an electric vehicle.

Or at least, they don’t have a budget for a car which has a satisfactory range.

If you already have a gasoline or diesel car, here’s what you can do.

Greener Options for Gasoline vehicles (5,6)

  • Ethanol
  • Petroleum gas (LPG)
  • Natural gas (CNG)

Greener Options for diesel vehicles (7)

  • Butanol
  • Biodiesel
  • Producer gas

Step 5 - Choose “deforestation-free” products

FSC certificate

In short, choose sustainable:

  • wood
  • paper
  • palm oil, avocados and other goods.

Our trees are the lungs of our planet.

Forests, jungles and parks are our ally when it comes to stabilizing our climate.

Trees absorb CO2, they provide oxygen and they give shelter for animals.

So far, we’ve cut down 3 trillion trees. Clearing nearly half of our planet’s forests.

Now, it’s time to stop destroying our forests and jungles.

There are better and more sustainable ways of getting wood, paper and palm oil.

By growing palms and fast-growing trees on areas where there are no trees, we can create passages and shelters for animals.

So the next time you buy paper or products containing palm oil.

Make sure that the products were created in a sustainable way.

An FSC-certificate ensures that the world’s forests are being sustainably managed.(8)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FSC-Forest_For_All_Forever.jpg

It can also positively impact workers and communities.

Step 6 - Eating a plant based diet can help you reduce your carbon footprint by 0.8 tonnes

Veggies

To meet the world’s food and feed demands, millions of trees are being cut down.

Some of them for timber, some of them to create more land for pasture, and some trees are being cut to farm more crops.

Now, all of that can be done in a more sustainable way.

Meat - Less but better

high quality Beef

The best thing you can do is to eat less meat, or at least less red meat.

Although avoiding red meat can reduce your environmental footprint drastically, it’s not easy for everyone.

Luckily, red meat can also be farmed in a more sustainable and regenerative way.

If managed properly, cattle can help sink a huge amount of carbon back into the soil.

Not only does this help make the land more drought resistant, but cow dung, also helps increase biodiversity and nutritional composition of the soil.

Regenerative farming reduces the need for antibiotics, and it can help us turn deserts into grassland.

On top of that, scientists and farmers are finding more and more ways to significantly reduce methane production. For example, feeding the algae called Asparagopsis taxiformis to cows, can reduce methane production by 58% (9).

Unfortunately, most of the worlds red meat is not produced this way.

By reducing your meat intake, you’ll be able to buy better meat, less frequently.

Eating more veggies and less meat can not only help us reduce our impact on the environment.

It can also help you get healthier, live longer and reduce the chance of getting cancer. (plant based blog post)  

Not all veggies are the same

Diversity flag

Buying exotic fruits and rice, comes with a price.

A price called food-miles.

If the fruits and veggies have been traveling from the other side of the world, a huge amount of CO2 is released in the atmosphere.

To avoid that, buy seasonal and locally grown fruits and veggies.

In most cases, eating Raspberries from Argentina is still more sustainable than eating beef from an organic local farm. (10)

Step 7 - Save energy, save money

Cash

Weatherize your home/Invest in good insulation

You’re probably wasting hundreds of dollars every year.

Unknowingly.

And not only that, you’re also wasting a ton of energy along the way.

How?

Poor insulation and air leeks.

Luckily, fixing this is easier than you think.

The first thing you should do is make an assessment of your home. You can hire a professional to do this for you, or you can check out this guide on how to do a DIY assessment. (11)

After you’ve identified the biggest issues, it’s not hard to fix them.

Invest in new electronic devices that save energy

Energy efficiency rating

Older electronic devices are usually not as efficient as new ones.

For example.

If you have a dishwasher that’s older than 15 years, it’s worth buying a new one.

For two reasons:

  1. It will reduce your water and energy use and lower your monthly electricity bills
  2. It will pay for itself during the next few years

Buy LED Bulbs and hang dry clothes

LED bulb

This one is simple, yet effective.

LED Bulbs are great!

They emit the same amount of light using only a friction of energy.

What’s more they last quite long.

If you can, change all your old light bulbs for LEDs.

It pays of.

Reduce air conditioning

Another tip: Wear a hoodie/sweater in the winter and put your air conditioner 2 ° higher in the summer.

Doing this simple action can reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly cost.   

According to Ryan Guina, you will save up to 3 percent on your heating bill per degree (°F) lowered over a 24 hour period (or about 1 percent per 8 hours). (12)

Step 8 - Divest from fossil fuels

Girl Protesting for the planet

Believe it or not.

Even if you’re biking everywhere, you’re money is most likely supporting the fossil fuel industry.

Now, you might be asking how?

The answer is pretty shocking...

Most organizations have some of their money invested in the fossil fuel industry.

  • Your Insurance
  • Your pension fund
  • Your Bank
  • Your Municipality
  • Maybe even the company you’re working in

Now, you might be wondering…

Is there something I can do about it?

And the answer is YES! You can do A LOT about it.

The first thing you might want to do is simply reach out to them.

Many organizations will be happy to divest.

For Example, Ella Lagé managed to convince her municipality and her pension fund, to divest…

Simply by sending an email!

Step 9 - Invest in renewables

Solar panels

The obvious choice is to install solar panels or a wind turbine.

However there’s other options too.

For example.

You can share the setup costs and electricity with your neighbours...

Even if you can’t install solar panels you can still be a part of the clean-energy economy.

Take a minute to search online for local renewable energy co-ops to join.

By becoming a co-op member you will own a slice of its renewable energy projects.

In many cases, you can get a pretty good return on your investment.

Step 10 - Vote

Greta for president (activist banner)

From local to municipal and federal governments. All levels of governments can help lower emissions, shift to clean energy and help prepare for global warming.

Get engaged in political debates and ask questions about climate. Read the parties plans and programmes and let them know about your values.

Although many of us feel like we have no saying, that’s simply not true.

Across Europe, almost 50% of people don’t show up when it’s time to vote. (13)

Your voice matters.

And you can make a change!

Step 11 - Get active in your community and share knowledge

Sharing knowledge

Start attending public events, and join the debate on climate change. Share knowledge with your friends and family or with people on the internet.

Blogging, vlogging and joining podcasts are some of the things you can do to spread the word.

And also, try to translate solutions into actionable steps. Something that people can do right now to reduce their carbon footprint.

Step 12 - Help put a price on Carbon

A price tag on a chimney

Carbon pricing sounds boring but it can help to change the course of action.

In other words, carbon pricing is just another word for carbon tax. Meaning, the more companies and individuals pollute, the more they have to pay tax.

Obviously, people want to avoid those fees.

As the logic follows, polluters will try to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses they omit.

It will help the market shift to renewables and green alternatives.

You can start tweeting to politicians and policy makers, or you can make a case and contact newspapers to spread the word.

Step 13 - Waste Less, Buy Less #minimalism

#minimalism

Take care of your trash.

Remind yourself about the 3R’s

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

Make sure to separate your trash.

Reuse everything you can and reduce the amount of plastic you buy.

If you can, compost all of your organic waste. It’s much better to turn organic matter into soil than to burn it.

If you can’t reuse a certain item, first then, throw it in the recycle bin.

Step 14 - Go carbon neutral

CO2 Emission

This might sound intangible, so let’s break it down into actionables.

The first thing you want to do is reduce your carbon footprint with the steps we mentioned in this article.

Next, offset carbon.

Now, you might be thinking.

What the heck is carbon offsetting?

It’s no rocket science.

A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.

So what are some ways you can offset carbon?

  1. Buy carbon offsets
  2. Download Ecosia
  3. Plant trees or perennial plants

Ok, now you might want to be cautious with carbon offset programs.

Many of these programs are scams and you need to do a little extra legwork to ensure that the program is legit.

Google for example, employs people to check if the programs are legit.

Obviously, you can’t do that.

Luckily, there are quality assurance systems that verify the quality of your offsets.

At the top level are groups like the Climate Action Reserve, which create rules and protocols for offset projects. Right below them are retail certification programs like Green-e Climate, which help individuals identify reliable carbon offset sellers.

You can read more about carbon offsets here.

Can global warming be Stopped?

Let’s hope so… But we have to act right now.

If you’re not optimistic then you won’t get anything done. - Bill Nye

The more we wait, the harder it will be to “fix” the situation.

Meaning, the mitigation of climate change is becoming harder and harder.

And if we don’t act now, if we don’t manage to keep the global temperature under 2°C since the industrial age, it will be too late, we will reach a place of no return.

So, don’t be a d*ck.

Do your share and lead by example by committing to one of the above steps :)

Start small and slowly increase your efforts.

The more people you manage to influence, the more likely we are to save yours and the planet’s future.

If you liked this article, make sure to share it with your friends and family.

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