Today is Earth Day. A special day for environmentalists the world over. But it should be special to all of us. After all, this planet is our home. And when your home is under attack, you don’t just ignore the bad guys. You act. You do everything you can. This year, Earth Day is especially important because of the signing of the Paris Agreement – which contains within it many of the commitments that experts hope can fight some of the damage of climate change.
What is a carbon footprint?
The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
So basically – when you drive a car, the engine burns fuel which creates a certain amount of CO2. When you heat/cool your house, when you buy food and goods, and when you a do a lot of everyday things, CO2 is emitted. Your carbon footprint is the sum of all these CO2 emissions – usually a carbon footprint is calculated for the time period of a year.
We now live in an always-connected world. So it’s nearly impossible to get stuff done without consuming energy. But by being a little more aware of our individual impact, we could make small changes to reduce our carbon footprint.
So how can you, a mere human, help save an entire planet?
Little things. Do the little things. It’s a lot of little things put together that make the big things happen.
Turn it OFF
This is one of the simplest, yet most neglected, things we could do to reduce CO2 emissions – by turning off the lights when you leave a room and unplugging appliances when not in use. Also, don’t leave the water running for longer than you need to.
We cannot stress this enough — please don’t use paper unless you absolutely have to. I recently came across an advertisement where a child is spending her free time taking a whole bunch of random prints because “it’s fun and costs less than a toffee” – really made our blood boil. This is not something we should teach the next generation, they need to be better educated about the little things they should or shouldn’t do which will go a long way to help our planet.
Make use of technology
Wanna check your bank account or look at some pretty shoes? Avoid constantly driving to the bank or shopping mall. Make use of the internet. Invest in a solar powered charger, if you can afford it. There’s even apps that can help you track your carbon footprint – Johnnie Walker have made the Earth Mode Chrome extension, which tracks your internet use and shows you how much energy you’ve consumed. And if you feel guilty, they’ll plant trees to offset the impact.
Bring Your Own Bag, silly! Most small shops still freely provide single-use plastic bags. Many of these bags become litter or end up in landfill sites where they take centuries to break down. Also, buy a reusable plastic bottle and fill it at home – in addition to saving the environment, this will save you a bunch of money.
Walk more, get a bike or at least carpool
Motor vehicles are some of the biggest contributors of CO2. Set up a carpool system with your friends and family. Use public transport. Make a habit of walking or cycling to nearby places – the fresh air will only do you good.
Production and transportation of food produce a whole lot of greenhouse gases. As do the meat and dairy industry. So buy locally produced organic food, cut down on the meat and eat lots of veggies – they’re good for you.
Reuse and recycle
By buying used products and reselling or recycling items you no longer use, you dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. Donate what you can, make someone less fortunate a little happier.
Plant a tree
It’s not rocket-science. Trees are wonderful. They love this planet. And you need to love them. This planet deserves a future. Your children deserve clean air. Plant a tree – in fact, plant as many as you can. You’ll never regret it.