How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, and Why You Should Celebrate it

When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint it’s not what you do it’s what can you do. For some people it’s not a big expensive to install solar panels on their homes, whereas others don’t own a home. Every individual action counts. Once you’ve figured out what’s possible for you to do, you should celebrate it by telling as many people as possible. Since every individual action counts, the more individuals doing something to help the planet can make a large collective impact.

Social influence can drive change, says Diana Ivanova, a research fellow at the School of Earth and Environment at University of Leeds in England who reviewed emissions reduction options in April in Environmental Research Letters. If you see other people taking steps to shrink their carbon footprints, “you may feel more empowered to enact changes yourself.”

Researchers call this transmission of ideas and behaviors through a population “behavioral contagion.” That’s where individual action can be a potent force for change, says Robert Frank, a Cornell University economist. “Installing solar panels, buying an electric vehicle or adopting a more climate-friendly diet don’t just increase the likelihood of others taking similar steps, it also deepens one’s sense of identity as a climate advocate,” Frank writes in his 2020 book, Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work. Those actions can also encourage other meaningful actions, like supporting candidates who favor climate-protecting legislation.

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Campaign to Label Carbon Footprint of Consumer Goods

A team has started a Kickstarter campaign to label a product’s carbon footprint so consumers can make better decisions about which brand to buy. The labels are meant to bring attention to the additional cost of wasteful production and a bunch of brands have already joined the initiative.

Of course the best way to help the environment is to follow the first R and reduce your consumption in the first place.

Solutions to seriously mitigate climate change exist, but they are not free. You know what is free right now? Emitting greenhouse gases. Let’s change that.

By joining Certified Climate Neutral, businesses can choose to pay for all of their carbon emissions and accelerate the implementation of low-carbon technologies. Becoming Climate Neutral Certified is so affordable, immediate, and measurably impactful that it should be the minimum standard for what it means to be a sustainable business. 

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Why Urban Areas Are More Efficient Than Suburban Areas

It’s been known for years that urban centres have a lower carbon footprint than the lands of urban sprawl. This is a for a variety of reasons and it’s rather complex, sure most of it comes down to density, but the exact know how is still being figure out.

Over at Alternatives Journal they looked at how building sustainable cities makes better cities overall. This is how and why people make resilient cities.

FOR EXAMPLE, existing low-density suburban developments “actually increase the damage on the environment while also making that damage harder to see and to address,” wrote Green Metropolis author David Owen. Although Forbes ranked Vermont as the greenest US state in 2007, Owen’s 2009 article revealed that a typical Vermonter consumed 2,063 litres of gasoline per year – almost 400 hundred litres more than the US national average at that time. This vast consumption is primarily due to single-use zoning and the absence of a comprehensive public transit system. Contrary to popular belief, dense cities such as New York City typically have the lowest carbon footprints. NYC emits 7.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person per year, or less than 30 per cent of the US national average. This is due to its extreme compactness. Over 80 per cent of Manhattanites travel to work by public transit, by bicycle or on foot. Population density also lowers energy and water use, limits material consumption and decreases the production of solid waste. For example, Japan’s urban areas are five times denser than Canada’s, and the consumption of energy per capita in Japan is 40 per cent lower.

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Slow Increasing Carbon Waste by Growing Cities

People living in cities have a lower carbon footprint than those in the suburbs and rural areas. Some people find this rather counter intuitive for reasons I don’t fully understand. There are researchers looking into the future of our global carbon footprint and they have concluded that if we increase the percentage of people in urban places instead of suburban/rural we can lower the rate of wasteful carbon increase.

By taking these key steps, particularly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the analysis concluded that the world’s cities could limit themselves to using 540 exajoules of energy in 2050 (it takes the U.S. about three weeks to produce enough crude oil to generate 1 EJ of energy). That’s a lot of energy—more than double cities’ 2005 energy demand of 240 EJ. But it’s a quarter less than the projected demand of 730 EJ under the business-as-usual scenario analyzed.

Given that most of the energy used by humanity today comes from fossil fuels, improving the energy efficiency of cities could deliver big climate benefits. Cities account for so much of the world’s energy use that a recent U.N climate report concluded they’re responsible for three quarters of yearly carbon dioxide pollution.

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Do You Make the World Better? There’s an App for That

By now most people have heard what a carbon footprint is, but have you heard about your gloabl ‘handprint‘? The notion is that it’s the opposite of a negative counter of your impacts on the planet. Handprints are recorded online or on your phone as you make little (or big) improvements to the world around you.

You can create a handprint in three ways. First, you simply cut your footprint: say, by cycling to work, rather than driving. Second, you can champion an action suggested on the platform (carpooling, say). Or, third, you can come up with a completely new idea. In each case, Handprinter calculates the benefit and your part in bringing it about. If, for example, you share a link and someone clicks on it, you get credited with that action. Everything is subtracted from your footprint, which you calculate at the beginning.

Read more at co.Exist.

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