Article by Gauri Bhardwaj (21)
Almost each and everyone from a student to a government official or even the celebrities are heard talking about the climate change and the climate crisis in general. The concept of climate change is very complex and it is one of the many overwhelming problems that the world is facing currently. One of the major reasons that climate change is an overwhelming issue is because of the fact that it is leading to irreversible changes in the physical world that we live in. This not only has an impact on us but is a big threat for our future generations too! As a matter of grave concern, when it comes to the future impacts, there are a still a lot of unknowns….
An argument that we very often come across in the climate crisis discussions is “the need to reduce the carbon footprint”. So before we talk about the ways of reducing carbon footprints, one must know what exactly is carbon foot-printing?
CARBON FOOTPRINT 101:
A CARBON FOOTPRINT is the total amount of green house gas emission that come from the production, use and end of life of a product or service. It includes CARBON DIOXIDE, the gas mostly commonly produced by humans and their activities. Besides carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and fluorinated gases are also included in greenhouse gases which traps heat in the atmosphere and hence are one of the leading causes of climate crisis such as Global Warming.
The carbon footprint is nothing but a way to measure the effect that YOUR LIFESTYLE has on the environment. Usually, the bulk of an individual’s carbon footprint comes majorly from transportation, housing and food.
Knowing one’s carbon footprint is one of the crucial steps an individual can take towards protecting the environment. Once you know your carbon footprint and what part of your lifestyle contributes the most to it, one can come up with ways to lessen their impact and contribution towards the climate change. So the next question which might arise in our mind is how does one calculate their carbon footprint?
An individual’s Carbon Footprint is calculated by summing up the emissions from all their daily activities. It includes everything from what you eat, your choices of clothes, choice of transportation and even the setting you wash your clothes with! There are a number of online calculators one can use to figure out their carbon footprint. It is measured in terms of CARBON DIOXIDE EQUIVALENT and is a standard unit for measuring the carbon footprint. It essentially takes any quantity as well as different types of greenhouse gases and express them in the amount of carbon dioxide that would have the equivalent contribution towards Global Warming.
A major question which arises in the minds of many people is that Carbon Footprints and Climate Change are massive universal issues! so how can they as an individual contribute towards combating them? and whether their actions will be effective enough to tackle such big of an issue?
Unarguably the real solutions will require actions on a global scale, there are however choices each one of us can make in our day to day lives to lessen our personal impact on the environment. If each one of us collectively reduce our carbon footprints to the minimum possible, it will surely make a big difference in improving the environment!
Enlisted below are some simple yet effective steps which one can inculcate in their daily lives to reduce their carbon footprints:
- THE RULE OF THE 5 R’s : Most of us have probably heard about the 3 R’s i.e. reduce, reuse, recycle but there are two more R’s which are equally as important:
- Reduce : Downsize what you purchase and be more mindful of what you really need. Get rid of the “Hoarding Mentality”.
- Reuse: One must try and find ways to keep an item out of the landfill by keeping them in good condition, using them properly, repairing and up-cycling things .
- Recycle: properly recycle the waste such as plastic, paper, glass or metal that comes into your life. Segregate the waste into Biodegradable waste and Recyclable waste
- Refuse: Avoid single use plastics and paper products and rather go for reusable products. One can also opt for alternative options such as using Copper bottles in place of plastic ones which are not only good for the environment but for your health too, switch to using fabric bags and recycled products.
- Rot – Set up a compost system for your food scraps, or find a food scrap drop off center (like a farmers market, or community garden) near your house. The vegetable and food wastes act as a great fertilizer for the plants.
2. DITCH THE CAR! AND TAKE THAT BIKE FOR A RIDE….
One must try and minimize driving by setting concrete reduction goals and taking to walking, biking, carpooling or using the public transit as much as possible. Set a goal for yourself! walk or bike to anywhere within 2 miles of your home.
3. FLIP THAT SWITCH AND STEP UP THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY!
- Turn off the electrical appliances and unplug the devices when not in use. The devices consume energy even when not in use if they are plugged in.
- Use energy efficient appliances and look out for the products bearing “Energy Star” labels. Products bearing energy star labels are recognized for having superior efficiency.
- switching to LED from incandescent light is a great option to make your home more energy efficient . It not only reduces your carbon footprint but is pocket friendly alternative too!
4. WATCH WHAT YOU EAT!
As interesting as it may seem, your dietary habits too contribute towards your Carbon Footprint.
According to the experts, eating low down the food chain as often as you can is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint as well as staying healthy. This means filling up your plate with more of the vegetables, fruits, grains and beans.
While undoubtedly the food system is complicated, the dietary experts mostly agree to the fact that cutting down on meat , especially Red Meat is a better choice for the environment. The reason for it is that, Meat production consumes a large amount of feed, water and land. Same goes for the dairy products too !!
so, it is recommended that in order to reduce the carbon footprint, one can switch to a vegan or a vegetarian diet. Also one must eat locally available and seasonal foods. It has been estimated that eating locally grown foods for an year can save the green house gas equivalent of driving 1000 miles!!!
5. EACH DROP COUNTS….
Saving water is not only important for protecting the environment but also for reducing one’s carbon footprint. we can follow some few easy ways to reduce our water consumption on a daily basis such as
- Use low shower heads and reduce your shower time.
- switch to using bucket and mug for bathing in place of the shower.
- fix all the leaking taps and pipes to reduce water wastage.
- reuse the water discarded by the water filters for cleaning purposes.
- Select the settings for washing your clothes in such a way that it utilizes minimum amount of water.
These were some of the sustainable ways of reducing an individual’s carbon footprint that one can incorporate in their daily lives.
Some individuals and various startups are also coming up with innovative ways to fix the problem of carbon effluents in the environment.
One such very interesting initiative was taken by GRAVIKY LABS to reuse the carbon emissions from various sources and converting them into useful products. Founded by Anirudh Sharma, GRAVIKY labs aims at recycling the carbon exhaust and converting it into inks known as AIR-INK.
They developed a device that can be fitted onto the exhaust pipe of a car or a portable generator and collected soot that forms from burning the diesel fuel. By mixing the powder obtained with suitable solvents, they produced inks that went onto bottles and markers. So, instead of going into our lungs, the carbon emissions go into our pens and markers!!!
Thus, we see that by switching to a more sustainable and minimalist lifestyle, one can can greatly reduce their carbon footprint.
If each one of us enforces these choices and modify our lifestyles, we can collectively make a huge impact towards protecting our environment and make this world a better place to live , not only for ourselves but for the future generations too….
SO REDUCE THAT CARBON FOOTPRINT AND TAKE A STEP CLOSER TOWARDS PROTECTING THE NATURE…
image references: http://www.images.google.com