Usher in a new year with easy and sustainable practices around your home! We put together a list of 21 things to do to reduce your carbon footprint in 2021 to make this year even greener than the last.
Eat less meat.
Experts agree that reducing meat consumption, and red meat in particular, is a better choice for the environment. This is because the production of red meat uses more feed, water, and land than any other protein source.
Grow your own vegetables when possible.
Some tomatoes are driven halfway across the country before ending up in your supermarket, then in your car, and finally, on your plate. The less a vegetable travels, the lower the emissions associated with it.
Meal plan as much as possible.
Meal planning not only helps cut down on prepared food waste, it’s also easier to plan out healthier meals for your family. It also means less unused food sitting in the fridge that you might eventually end up throwing away.
Use reusable dishware and cutlery.
Ditch the plastic knives and forks or single-use plates this year. Use washable metal, ceramic, or reusable plastic dishware and cutlery to prevent throwing out excessive amounts of plastic.
Turn down the heat.
Even one or two degrees on the thermostat can save you big bucks while also lowering your carbon footprint. Less gas burned means less carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere.
Replace old lights with LED lights.
LED lights use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents, last up to 25 times longer, and are more inexpensive to have on than incandescent lights.
Purchase products without plastic packaging or with recyclable packaging.
When possible, purchase products that are not covered in plastic wrap or a waxy box that is a single-use package. If products do come in packaging, try to find recyclable options such as stock paper, cardboard, or hard plastic.
Take shorter showers.
Standing under a hot shower is relaxing and refreshing, and you might be tempted to stand under the water for a few minutes. Unfortunately, on average an eight-minute shower uses almost 20 gallons of water! Try to take shorter showers under five minutes. Not only does using less water lower your energy costs, but it keeps water in the environment for natural geological and ecological cycles.
Pick a renewable energy supplier for electricity.
Do some research and find a supplier for your home that sources from renewable energy. Most times, these supplies are similar in price as non-renewable energy.
Recycle as much as possible.
This means more than just paper, plastic, and glass! Recycle broken electronics during local drop-offs and collect batteries to recycle in special locations. Some towns even offer special recycling days for old car or bike parts.
Check the insulation of your house for possible leaky spots.
Help keep the heat in or the cool in throughout the year by sealing up any potential leaks in your insulation. This prevents your AC or heating system from having to work extra.
Start a compost bin.
Rather than sending raw food waste to the landfill, start a compost bin. This helps cut back on waste and helps your plants! Adding compost to your garden will not only fertilize, it actually feeds your soil with a diversity of nutrients and microorganisms.
Shop vintage or at second-hand stores for clothes.
Skip fast fashion and opt for gently used clothing. One of the many harmful industries to the environment is fast fashion, which depletes non-renewable sources, gives off greenhouse gases, and uses massive amounts of water and energy.
Use reusable tote bags and vegetable bags.
There are many options to avoid the plastic bag buildup under your sink. Invest in a few well-made fabric totes to use for grocery shopping and find mesh or fabric bags to purchase vegetables and fruits in. This avoids both the plastic bags in the produce section and the plastic bags at the end of the check-out counter.
Purchase hemp and wool clothing over synthetics and cotton.
Despite cotton being all-natural and biodegradable, it’s actually one of the most environmentally demanding crops. While plastic-based fibers such as polyester, nylon, and spandex do not require agricultural production, they negatively impact the environment in other ways. Synthetics are not biodegradable and rely on fossil fuel extraction to be made.
Unplug what you aren’t using.
While this might seem like a no-brainer, there are actually many small electronics that stay plugged in and slowly sap power throughout the day. Try to be aware of what items you aren’t using that constantly stay plugged in which don’t need to be.
Purchase fewer unnecessary items.
Purchasing that third super cute pair of sneakers might be tempting, but the more items you purchase, the larger your carbon footprint. Before committing to a purchase, take a minute to think about if you really need that item and if its impact on the environment is worth the money you will spend.
Turn down the water heater.
Turn your water heater down to 120ºF. You do not need the water to be hotter than this as it can be damaging to your skin. Lowering the water heater temperature can save about 550 pounds of CO2 a year.
Plan ahead during your week to try and cut down on the amount of time you spend on the road. Combining errands, walking or biking, and stopping to grab something on the way home from work instead of going out of your way are easy daily steps to limit the amount of time you spend in your car.
Use your voice for change.
While making all of these changes individually will help lower your carbon footprint, the fact is that the majority of harmful emissions come from corporations and the wealthiest members of society. Call your local representatives, vote, and make your voice heard about the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Get involved locally.
Many towns, counties, and states have organizations that are fighting for environmental change. Get involved with local eco-conscious groups to start implementing change in your neighborhood, community, or even statewide.