How to reduce your carbon footprint without compromising your lifestyle

As wildfires raged across several parts of the world in the summer, from the secluded Amazon to Athens and right at home in Ontario and British Columbia, the devastating effects of climate change have become more prominent than ever. However, when we hear or learn about climate change on the news or from any educational literature, it is often portrayed on a scale too large for us to make an impact as individuals. While it is important to hold big corporations and organisations accountable, it is also imperative that we make the necessary changes in our own lifestyles. 

What are the little adjustments you can make in your life without compromising its quality and still reduce your carbon footprint significantly? We’ve compiled a list to help you answer that question. 

Driving:

At first glance you might think driving is non-negotiable and cannot be cut out of your lifestyle. And the good news is that you’re not being asked to. In 2019, the oil and gas sector accounted for 191 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to a report by the Environment and Climate Change Canada. But there are modifications that will help you offset your carbon footprint substantially. Be mindful of speeding and unnecessary acceleration. They release needless carbon and are estimated to decrease your mileage up to 33 per cent

Driving a vehicle with low carbon emissions also helps. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your car will have to compromise on high mileage. Electric cars can have zero carbon dioxideemissionsif they are charged with clean electricity (solar panels, charging booths). Keep your tires properly inflated and you will increase your gas mileage up to three per cent. Additionally, keeping up with maintenance, such as using the correct grade motor oil or keeping your engine tuned, can increase fuel efficiency up to 40 per cent.

Switching to eco-friendly alternatives

There is an eco-friendly alternative for almost every consumable product. The advent of the plant-based lifestyle has turned these alternatives mainstream. It takes a lot of land to raise cows, and it is especially harmful if you buy beef from places where forests have been cleared for agricultural use. Deforestation is a leading contributor to carbon emissions. However, this doesn’t mean you have to compromise on tasty food. Vendors including verygoodbutchers deliver not just beef alternatives but all kinds of plant-based meat in Canada. It’s healthier for you and the planet. 

Dairy follows the same principles. For example, a sustainable alternative to cow’s milk is oat milk, which is available in almost all mainstream and local grocery stores throughout Canada. You can also find soy, rice and many other plant-based milks.

Using solar power

Add solar panels to your roof. In 2019, the electricity sector was the sixth-largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for 8.4 per cent of total national emissions in Canada. Electricity is essential to daily, modern life. However, the carbon emission from electric sources can be reduced significantly by using greener alternatives. Canada offers a variety of solar panel installers with competitive pricing.  

Eating local and organic food

The production and transportation of food depends heavily on petroleum-based fuels, and many fertilizers are also fossil fuel-based. This can be reduced by shopping for locally produced foods at independent outlets or farmers’ markets. You can also maintain a healthier lifestyle and help the local economy thrive. 

Reducing water usage

Excess water usage is a major contributor to carbon emissions. You can lower the energy used to pump, treat, and heat water through a variety of adjustments, such as growing seasonal plants that don’t need artificial help, installing drip irrigation for your plants and garden, washing your car and doing laundry less often, purchasing smart and eco-friendly home appliances.

Keeping your carbon footprint in check

You’ve made the suggested changes but how do you measure whether you’ve been successful in reducing your carbon footprint? There are many tools available online. COTAP uses statistics, such as miles you’ve driven on your vehicle running on gas, your air travel time among others to calculate your carbon emissions. This can help you measure and compare your carbon emissions from before and after you’ve made lifestyle changes towards a greener life and planet. 

Photo: Shutterstock

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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