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Four ways to reduce your carbon footprint

There is currently a historically high level of CO2 in the atmosphere, but, all hope is not lost because there are easy ways for us all to reduce our carbon footprints, and help mother earth. There are many simple steps that we can take today to produce less carbon - whether it be in our homes, from our wallets, or through our travels. Certain steps can be adopted immediately, others will happen overnight, and others will take shape over time. Some of them are changes in behaviour, while others are changes to our purchasing patterns. In each case, these can be one of the small changes that we need to see in the world.

At home: Reduce energy use

  • Unplug unused appliances.

  • Use power bars: Put items in one place (on a desk, nighstand, etc) on a power bar. When you’re leaving for the day or not using them at night - turn off the entire bar.

  • Wash clothes in cold water and hang them dry.

  • Just a note that I have some items I still put in the dryer, but for a reduced amount of time, then hang them to dry for a smaller amount of time.

  • Use LED lightbulbs.

  • When buying new electronics, opt for energy-efficient.

On your plate: Reduce the travel time of your food

  • Buy local and eat seasonally. These can go hand in hand, and can be fulfilled at most grocery stores. Buying fruits & veggies that were grown nearby minimizes the distance between where your food is grown and your plate, and minimizes the carbon cost of transportation from the source to the point of sale.

  • Consume less carbon intensive products. Not all fruits, veggies, meats, grains or legumes were created equal. Sure, meats are (for the most part) more carbon intensive than legumes, nuts, fruits & vegetables, but some of the latter are more intensive than their other counterparts too. Not sure where to start? The top three most carbon intensive foods are lamb, beef and cheese - cut down on those, or cut them altogether, and your carbon footprint has already gotten smaller.

With your purchases: Eliminate demand for new products

  • Buy clothes second-hand! There are so many thrift, charity, consignment and vintage stores that have a panoply of clothes that are like-new. Reducing the demand for new items reduces carbon emissions from production, which might be invisible to us, but have a serious impact on the planet

  • Borrow tools from friends or family instead of buying items that you'll probably use once.

  • If your friends and family don't have something - try out borrowing groups & forums in your local area! These can be found on Facebook, or through local services like the Ottawa Tool Library, that is a godsend in Ottawa!​​

Going places: Walk, bike or opt for public transportation

  • This one is tried and true! If it is accessible, try to walk or bike anywhere within a 5 km radius of your starting point. Beyond that, opt for public transportation before driving, then busses or trains before planes, and finally, carbon offsets for unavoidable carbon intensive transportation.

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