As a responsibility to future generations, we all currently have to consider our daily actions and determine ways to shrink our carbon footprint and decrease our climate impact.  There are many lifestyle changes we can make that will lead us on a path to carbon neutrality.  These changes fall into multiple facets of our daily lives.

Carbon Footprint 447x297 Instant Gratification: How to Start Shrinking Your Carbon Footprint Now
Image: flickr.com/photos/oxfam

Travel

Whether the destination is work or vacation, there are many changes that can be made to reduce travellers’ carbon footprints.  For drivers, simple changes in their habits can reduce their energy consumption and production of carbon dioxide.  For instance, driving the speed limit, accelerating slowly and smoothly, and maintaining steady rates can shrink environmental impact.

In addition to driver behavior, proper maintenance of vehicles can also help lesson a traveller’s carbon footprint.  It is best when vehicles are tuned up regularly with replacement of air, fuel, and oil filters as needed.  Tires need to be inflated to manufacturer specifications for best results.

When possible, carpooling to work or taking public transportation can help reduce energy consumption tremendously.  If jobs require frequent air travel, it is best to consider direct flights, even though they may be pricier, to save on the energy costs of taking multiple, connecting flights.

At Home

Within the home, consumers can make small changes to reduce their carbon footprints.  One of the easiest things to do is to install a programmable thermostat.  This is especially significant during the dead of winter and the heart of summer when temperatures are at their extremes.

The thermostats in homes do not have to work as hard if proper weatherstripping and caulking are used around the windows and doors.  Efficient insulation can help reduce electricity and gas consumption and costs in the long run.  Windows and doors do not always need to be replaced in order to maintain an energy-efficient home; however, consistent maintenance is crucial.

The use of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can significantly reduce energy consumption and costs in homes.  Both types of lights emit less heat and consume less energy to produce the same, if not better, illumination on a daily basis.

In the same way that CFLs and LEDs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, Energy Star rated appliances, large and small, are better for reducing our carbon footprints than regular, non-rated ones.  Refrigerators, stoves, ovens, and washers/dryers often have Energy Star ratings, informing consumers of how they are saving in consumption and costs. You can click here for some more energy saving ideas for around the home.

At Work

Not only is it important to consider the things that can be done at, it is also essential to determine changes that can be made at work.  One easy thing to think about at work is whether or not rooms are being lit up when nobody is in them.  The best thing to do in common areas in an office is to install motion sensors, allowing lights to automatically turn off when there is a lack of motion after a few minutes.

It is also important to consider the waste involved with printing documents.  Before clicking “print,” consider whether it is better to simply email the information or save it digitally.  Does the document have to be printed out for the job to get done?

Along the same lines, when a decision is made that a document must be printed for the job to get done, consider whether or not it is appropriate to print it on the two-sided setting.  Printing on both sides when possible can reduce the amount of paper waste produced in office environments.

No Matter Where

Whether at home or work, there are many additional simple things that can be done to reduce environmental impact.  On a daily basis, consider using a water bottle or thermos rather than plastic, disposable bottles and paper cups.  Likewise, when entertaining, consider washable plates and utensils rather than using paper and plastic products.  Using the dishwasher multiple times saves more energy than lessons our carbon footprints than disposing of plastic utensils and paper plates.

It is imperative for us to consider what we can do to decrease our carbon footprints and assure future generations have a healthy, clean environment in which to live.

Lily Stopford is a eco-friendly living advocate and avid blogger. You can find her articles on energy and home living websites.

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