4 Things You Can Do To Help
- Watch what you eat!
Meat-lovers will have a hard time hearing this: Cutting beef from your diet is one of the quickest ways to lower your carbon footprint. The simplest explanation for this is that it takes a lot of energy to get that steak on your plate.
Cows require great swaths of land, either for grazing or for growing the grains they eat. Converting forests and other natural areas to pasture or crop fields releases carbon into the atmosphere and, conversely, reforesting old grazing areas creates a carbon sink. Producing the fertilizer that’s needed for growing cattle feed creates massive amounts of carbon emissions. And during digestion, cows burp methane (it also is released from their manure), which is a greenhouse gas.
- Energy Choices
For many of us, the biggest portion of our climate footprint comes from the fuels we burn to drive our cars, heat our homes and power our appliances. Most of us can’t easily run out to purchase an electric vehicle or stock up on new windows for an old house. But it’s always worth hearing the numbers behind making greener energy choices. It may inspire future change or spur a down payment on an emissions-free car.
According to a 2017 study, which used data from more than 39 other peer-reviewed research papers, here is a sample of some carbon-reducing choices you can make at home:
- Living car-free for a year saves 2.4 tons of greenhouse gases
- Switching from a typical car to a hybrid car saves 0.4 tons of greenhouse gases a year
- Washing clothes in cold water saves 0.247 tons of greenhouse gases a year
- Hang-drying clothes instead of using an electric dryer saves 0.21 tons of greenhouse gases a year
- Upgrading your light bulbs saves 0.10 tons of greenhouse gases a year.
- Make Change with Your Money
Whether you have thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars in your bank account, how you choose to invest those funds can help fight climate change.
The idea behind responsible investment is that you opt for money-making funds that also fit with your personal convictions, with regard to social or environmental issues, such as gender equity or the environment.
Though it may seem like a strategy for only the wealthy, Dustyn Lanz, CEO of the Responsible Investment Association (RIA), says anyone with some savings can make a choice on how to invest their money.
“You can invest in a responsible mutual fund for $500 or less with an online platform,” he says, adding that talking to a financial adviser is another good place to start. The RIA certifies financial advisers in how to create responsible investment portfolios.
- Reduce Air Travel
The greenhouse gas emissions that come from jetting across the country are supersize compared to those that come from highway driving. Airplanes use an astounding amount of jet fuel, especially during take-off and landing. And at cruising altitude they emit particulates and other compounds and gases, which also contribute to a warming climate.
It can be tricky to pinpoint the exact amount of greenhouse gases an airplane trip creates; there are many variables, including the size, age and type of aircraft, as well as the carbon-burning activities associated with running an airport, where again size will matter. But a typical round-trip flight across the ocean from Toronto to London costs about 2 tons of greenhouse gases per passenger.
A 2016 study put these numbers in a different way: one round-trip transatlantic flight melts 3 square metres (32 square feet) of Arctic sea ice.