In this day and age, going green simply makes sense. With pollution on the rise, global warming on the horizon, and our rainforests being devastated, we must do everything we can to compensate for the damage we are doing to the planet. Besides, offsetting your carbon footprint can save you money.
A carbon footprint is simply the “measure of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a person, organization or state in a given time”.¹ In other words, your carbon footprint is the amount of pollution you produce – even if you are the greenest person on the planet. However, there are many ways you can offset your carbon footprint, many for free.
Offsetting Your Carbon Footprint
Offsetting your carbon footprint is defined as “an investment in a project or activity used to compensate for the emissions caused by your own activity.”² Examples of projects or activities to offset your carbon footprint include donating to conservation groups (such as the World Wildlife Fund or the Rainforest Alliance), planting trees, or buying Carbon Free products. The goal is to buy enough carbon offsets to give you a zero carbon footprint.
There are many ways you can offset your carbon footprint for free. First, though, you need to calculate exactly what your carbon footprint is. You can do that by going here. It may even surprise and startle you just how much pollution you do produce. Your carbon footprint is broken down into the emissions and pollution you are responsible in the categories of your home, various kinds of transportation, what kind of food you eat, what types of things you buy, and other ways you impact the earth.
Ways to Offset Your Carbon Footprint: Energy & Fuel Consumption
You may not be able to afford solar panels or a hybrid car, but there are many free or inexpensive ways to offset your carbon footprint. A few simple things you can do to offset your energy carbon footprint are:
• Turn off lights, TV’s, computers, cell phone chargers, and other electrical devices when they are not in use. Also, unplug electrical devices when they are off, as they do drain some electricity when plugged in, even if they are off.
• Use energy-saving light bulbs. While they may be a bit more expensive to purchase, they make up for it by using less energy. Effectively, they pay for themselves in the long run and contribute significantly to offsetting your carbon footprint.
• Turn down the heating and air conditioner. Even 2 degrees makes a difference. In the winter, put on a sweatshirt around the house to make yourself more likely to turn the heat down.
• Turn down your water heater. Again, just 2 degrees will make a difference in offsetting your energy carbon footprint. Make sure your water heater is insulated.
• When you leave the house, turn the heat or air conditioning off or way down. If you will be gone for days, turn it off or to the point that pets and pipes won’t freeze.
• Boil only as much water as you need.
• Run your dishwasher and washing machine with full loads only.
• If your refrigerator is over 15 years old, replace it with one with an “A” energy efficiency rating.
• Shop for groceries and other items just once a week.
• Hang your clothes out to dry if you have a place to do it.
• Search for green energy suppliers online in your area, and sign up with one. This could reduce your energy carbon footprint to zero.
Ways to Offset Your Carbon Footprint: What You Eat
Believe it or not, what you eat has an impact on the environment. Things like how much transportation is used to put food on your table, what goes into producing that food, how the food is packaged, and how the food is prepared impacts the environment. Simple choices in your daily life will help to offset your food carbon footprint.
• Buy organic or “fair trade”. Food that is grown in an eco-friendly manner impacts the environment less. Also, organic food does not require pesticides, industrial fertilizers – both of which require enormous amounts of fossil fuels which often end up in our soil and water. Buying organic or “fair trade” food goes a long ways in offsetting your carbon footprint.
• Buy local produce, meat, and eggs. Locally grown food uses less fuel to transport it to your local grocery store. Shopping at your local farmers’ market is a great way to buy local, which also keeps your dollars in your own community.
• Less packaging will help to offset your food carbon footprint. Buy the loose tomatoes instead of the neatly wrapped and boxed tomatoes, for example. Buying larger quantities of food also saves on packaging as well as saves you money. Always remember use a reusable cloth tote bag when you shop for groceries.
• Buy only fruit and vegetables that are in season. Out-of-season produce must travel thousands of miles and use tons of fossil fuels in order to get to your local grocery store.
• Bottled water has a huge impact on the environment. It not only requires massive amounts of fuel and chemicals to produce the plastic bottles, it also requires fossil fuels to transport the bottles to your store. Forget the fancy imported water. Instead, purchase water bottles in your local sporting goods or variety store.
Buy #7 bottles, which are fully recyclable. Usually the #7 is located on the bottom of the bottle. Also, buy stainless steel bottles or BPA-free polycarbonate bottles to make sure nothing harmful leaches into your drinking water. Not buying bottled water will contribute a lot to offsetting your carbon footprint.
Although organic and “fair trade” food may be a bit more expensive, consider the cost to the environment of buying cheaper, mass-produced, highly processed, and imported food. Also, consider the cost to your health.
The cheaper, mass-produced food in this country contributes greatly to our current obesity epidemic and can cause cancer and other diseases. Thus what we eat can cause hospitals and doctors to impact the environment in an effort to cure the diseases and conditions we might have avoided by choosing better things to eat.
Ways to Offset Your Carbon Footprint: To Sum It Up
There is so much we can do with relatively so little effort – these ideas are just some of the things we can do to offset our carbon footprints. The key is to be conscious enough of our actions that we make better decisions for the environment. Simply being aware of what we do and how it affects the Earth is a step in the right direction.
To read more articles from this author, click here