Carbon pollution is an epically disastrous issue. Its effect on the climate creates immediate and irreparable changes on weather patterns — and we've all seen how that plays out on the news. It's more than melting ice caps, and it's more than big storms — it's the effects these carbon pollution-fueled weather changes have on the planet.
You've probably heard people talking about their carbon footprint before and vaguely understood that it has to do with driving or electricity and the end of the world. According to the dictionary, a carbon footprint is:
"The amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc."
Your carbon footprint score is a number assigned to describe how much you contribute to carbon pollution on a scale. But, it's not a number meant to make you feel bad, more just to make you aware of your impact on the planet. For many, the number can be overwhelming and discouraging. It's kind of like checking your credit score — your efforts reduced to a number can feel impersonal. But the point of calculating your footprint is to take a moment to think about your lifestyle. It can be shocking to see it staring back at you in a pie chart. Here's mine:
The above graphic is the result of a short questionnaire I filled out on the Nature Conservancy website. It's simple, fast, free and hugely telling. And don't stress about your number. Because what if I told you that it's possible to reduce your carbon footprint without drastically changing your life? What if I told you there are simple everyday adjustments that you can make to reduce your personal contribution of carbon emissions? You don't have to live by candle light, eat vegan, and grow a beard in order to become a better Earthling. Here are seven easy steps to staving off the end of the world:
If you're not plugged into your charger, it doesn't need to be plugged into the wall. If you're not watching TV, it doesn't need to be plugged into the wall. If you're not using your hair straightener, it doesn't need to be plugged into the wall. Besides the fact that you can lower your energy bills, this is one of the simplest ways to lower your carbon pollution.
Switch out all your lightbulbs to compact florescent bulbs. They might not offer the best lighting for flattering selfies, but they do reduce the electricity needed to light your home and that reduces carbon pollution.
Close Your Curtains
In the winter, keep your curtains open during the day and closed at night to keep heat in. In the summer keep your blinds closed during the day and open at night to keep the heat out. This will give the heating and cooling services in your home a break.
Plastic packaging takes a lot of energy to make and even more to break down. Avoid buying things that are packaged when possible — buying your groceries at the farmer's market is the best way to do this.
Check Your Tires
Did you know that you get the most out of your miles out of your car when your tires are properly inflated? Check your tires monthly to make sure they're at peak inflation.
Despite the social and cultural connotations of e-Reading, it's actually a pretty environmentally-friendly way to read. Get your newspapers online and opt for a e-Book when you can.
If you have a microwave already, try using it instead of the stove every now and then. While it might not cook the same way the oven does, it does use less energy.
You don't need to change your whole life to make a big difference. Of course bigger commitments like carpooling, gardening, and switching to alternative energy are important, but no effort is too small.