Why Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Is A Lot Like Losing Weight
A footprint – an impression left by a foot or shoe on the sand, ground or any other surface. When walking on the beach our footprints are washed away as the waves rise to meet the shoreline. But what happens when I step on freshly laid cement? My footprint is imprinted on that piece of earth forever as a reminder that I was there. Our carbon footprints are very much like the cement analogy; it leaves an eternal impact on our earth.
What is Your Carbon Footprint?
I often heard people refer to this phrase, but I never completely understood what it really was. Can I literally see my carbon footprint? Can it be reversed, like footprints in the sand are washed away?
After some research, I have learnt that your carbon footprint refers to the total of all carbon dioxide emissions you produce. So every time you drive to work or school, when you heat your home during those cold winter months, or even when you buy a burger, your carbon footprint increases.
[Tweet “Adelie penguin breeding pairs have decreased by 30%”]
This means that you are producing more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas and one of the main culprits causing global warming.
Have a look at these carbon footprint facts and the major effects of global warming according to National Geographic:
• The Earth’s poles, which are covered in ice, are melting.
• Antarctica’s Adélie penguin breeding pairs have decreased from 32 000 pairs to 11 000 over the last 30 years.
• Some fauna and flora are moving to higher, cooler areas in order to survive.
• Sea levels are rising at an increased tempo.
• Worldwide, the average rain and snowfall have increased.
The Future of Global Warming
Photo: Patrick Emerson/Flickr
If global warming continues in this downward spiral, we can expect:
• The extinction of wildlife due to changing ecosystems and habitat loss.
• The increased occurrence of destructive hurricanes and cyclones.
• Drought or floods are predicted to increase.
Certain areas in my home country, South Africa, have already experienced the extreme struggles of drought over the past few months.
[Tweet “The agriculture industry is responsible for 91% rainforest destruction.”]
Cowspiracy, a document on meat and dairy farming, states that the agriculture industry:
• Is the number one cause of climate change.
• Uses ⅓ of the Earth’s fresh water.
• Has contributed to 91% of rainforest destruction.
• Uses 45% of the Earth’s total land.
Tracking your steps
From these statistics, it is obvious why we should try to reduce our carbon footprint. But how can I keep track of my carbon footprint?
• A carbon footprint calculator is a great way of tracking the amount of carbon dioxide emissions you produce.
• WWF has an impressive and user-friendly carbon footprint calculator available; calculate your carbon footprint today!
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
As soon as I had calculated my carbon footprint, I was rather embarrassed but fired up to make a positive change. The question on my lips was, ‘How can I reduce my carbon footprint?’
This is what I’ve learnt: the task of reducing your carbon footprint can be compared to a weight loss or fitness journey; nothing is going to happen over night.
You can’t expect to see any lasting results if you start a fad diet and gym like crazy for a week or three and then drop the whole routine. Like weight loss, reducing your carbon footprint should be an on-going lifestyle change.
[Tweet “Like weight loss, reducing your carbon footprint requires a lifestyle change.”]
So let’s look at some practical ways on how to reduce your carbon footprint:
• Make use of energy saving light bulbs in your home.
• A plant-based diet cuts your carbon footprint by up to 50%.
• Refrain from wasting food – dinner leftovers make great lunches!
• If a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is not your thing, at least try to moderate your meat intake.
• Support marine and wildlife conservation projects and contribute to efforts to protect our planet.
• Knowledge is power; do your homework on climate change and its effects.
• Support Earth Hour.
• Instead of leaving appliances and lights on standby, rather switch them off as soon as you’re done using them.
• Dust off your bicycle and cycle to work. If that’s not possible, walk or start a lift club.
• Consider using renewable energy instead of energy generated by coal or gas.
• Reduce, reuse, recycle.
These ideas have proven to be useful in successfully reducing my carbon footprint. Instead of putting your feet up in ignorance, rather hit the road running by making some changes in your lifestyle. Instead of showing “I was here”, rather let your sole rest, knowing you made a difference to reduce your carbon footprint and help save planet Earth.
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