The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
5 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Now
By Meredith Rosenberg
In early October, the United Nations released a climate change report forewarning of global catastrophes (severe flooding, wildfires, droughts) that could begin by 2040 unless drastic changes are made to reduce greenhouse gases. It might seem like a daunting task, but here are five lifestyle changes you can make right now to start reducing your carbon footprint. If you really want to help the planet, follow the next-level suggestions to make the biggest impact.
1. Change Your Commuting Habits
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that transportation contributes 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, one of the main culprits behind global warming. The easiest solution, depending on where you live, is to take public transportation whenever possible. Alternatively, walking and biking are not only beneficial to the environment, but also beneficial to your health.
Next Level: Drive an Electric Car
Gas-fueled cars rely on fossil fuels, which are notorious for releasing carbon dioxide into the air. Hybrid cars are a slightly better option as they're more fuel efficient, but they still rely on gas. Since electric cars eliminate the need for gas, they don't release harmful emissions, and are the best option at the moment.
2. Reduce Meat and Dairy Consumption
The process involved in producing dairy and meat, especially red meat, takes a much larger toll on the environment than a plant-based diet. In addition to taxing farmland and the water supply, the meat and dairy industries release a large number of fossil fuels into the environment. Besides reducing the amount of meat and dairy you eat, consider the environmental impact of say, chicken versus beef. And if you can't imagine eliminating meat and dairy, at least eat locally and organic whenever possible.
Next Level: Switch to a Plant-Based Diet
A recent study claims that going plant-based could reduce U.S. emissions by as much as 73 percent. Plus, meat alternatives, like the Beyond Burger, now taste better than ever. Just note that alternative milks, like almond, may sound like a good idea, until you realize how much water is required to produce them.
3. Modify Electricity Usage
Like driving, electricity also accounts for 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse emissions, with many power plants relying on coal or natural gas to generate electricity. Small household changes involve swapping out regular (incandescent) light bulbs for LED bulbs, which use up to 90 percent less energy. Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, including refrigerators, washers and dryers, is another way to make a difference.
Next Level: Install Solar Panels
Remove your dependence on a power plant by generating energy via solar panels. This way, you're not only saving money on utility bills, but you're reducing your carbon footprint by powering your home with the sun, not fossil fuels.
4. Buy Eco-Friendly Products
Whether beauty products or cleaning supplies, resist the urge to impulse buy and research brands ahead of time. This guide provides a starting point for overhauling beauty products, while this guide to cleaning products is applicable to consumers, too.
Next Level: Make Your Own
The DIY route for eco-friendly products has taken off in recent years; there are now countless sites to get you started, like the ones mentioned below.
5. Recycle, Reuse or Donate
You probably recycle already, but are you recycling the right way? Not all types of household items (like plastic bags or dirty pizza boxes), can be recycled by local companies, so despite your best efforts, certain items may still end up in the landfill. Be sure to double check local guidelines, which should also provide dates for area recycling events—solving the problem of how to discard batteries, used paint cans and other hazardous items.
Next Level: Work Toward a Zero Waste Lifestyle
A zero waste lifestyle aims to reduce household waste to (practically) zero. The challenge may seem intimidating, but sites like Zero Waste Home, Going Zero Waste and Trash is for Tossers can get you started.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)
Veganism refers to a way of living that attempts to minimize animal exploitation and cruelty. For this reason, vegans aim to exclude all foods containing meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey from their diet (1).
'Finally!': Court Orders EPA to Stop Stalling Potential Ban on Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Kids
By Jessica Corbett
In a ruling welcomed by public health advocates, a federal court on Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop stalling a potential ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, giving regulators until mid-July to make a final decision.
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
By Shuchi Talati
Solar geoengineering describes a set of approaches that would reflect sunlight to cool the planet. The most prevalent of these approaches entails mimicking volcanic eruptions by releasing aerosols (tiny particles) into the upper atmosphere to reduce global temperatures — a method that comes with immense uncertainty and risk. We don't yet know how it will affect regional weather patterns, and in turn its geopolitical consequences. One way we can attempt to understand potential outcomes is through models.
By Julia Conley
Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.
By Tim Radford
Scientists have identified yet another hazard linked to the thawing permafrost: laughing gas. A series of flights over the North Slope of Alaska has detected unexpected levels of emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide from the rapidly warming soils.