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I love challenges, what about you?
One that I set for myself about a year ago was to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible. You know, my blog is about my sustainable journey. I like to tell you about the things I try and give you my little input: what worked, what didn’t, what I enjoyed, what sucked,… Like that.
To be honest, I enjoyed my little challenge. Having a goal, and a set of steps to complete each day is something that motivates me.
The hardest part? Finding the parts of my lifestyle where I could make changes realistically.
Look, I live on rent, so I cannot put solar panels on my roof just like that. And I can’t walk 10 km to school in the snow during the winter, I need my bus or metro.
And I’m a student, so spending my little $$$ is not an option.
So yeah, finding that sweet spot between my needs and the perfect lifestyle was tricky.
But once I found my ways and stuck to them. OH BOY.
Last year, my carbon footprint was this:
And now this is it:
Not perfect, I know, I still have a long way to go. But much better than before! Good for me!
So come, let me show you how I reduced my carbon footprint and how you can do it too.
These tips are easy, free, and they help you save the planet. It can’t get better than this.
1. Don’t go crazy on the thermostat
National Geographic and NASA have agreed that my apartment is the 3rd coldest place on earth.
In case you don’t know, I live in Bulgaria. Where winters are HARD for a Mediterranean soul like mine.
But whoever built my apartment didn’t quite understand what isolation is. So yeah, I don’t live in the most eco-friendly home. BUT I found ways to save energy by not going crazy with the heating during the winter.
Because turning your heating down by 1°C can reduce your energy consumption by 8%, reduce your CO2 emissions by 148 kg and your bill by 55 $– we love a good saving.
My tricks include closing all the doors in the house, using draft stoppers to keep cold from sneaking in and heat from sneaking out, and making the most of the sunlight. Oh, and dressing for the weather – a nice pair of socks always does the trick.
2. Take colder and shorter showers
I’ve been doing it for the past year – and still, I don’t know how I feel about it, it’s some sort of love-hate relationship.
We cannot deny that colder showers do wonders:
- Speeding up your circulation YEY
- Improving your immune system YEY
- Making your skin and hair look healthier YEY
- Waking you up YEY
About 40% of the energy used during the shower is to heat the water. Over a year, you can save up to 86$ showering with cold water. I’m so in for that.
Pro tip: If you want to give this a try but you hate cold showers – I feel your pain -, try spending less time in the shower than you usually would. Which is also an eco-friendly move.
Spending 1 minute less in the shower can save 23kg CO2 and 10$ a year per person.
3. Pay attention to the stand by light in your electronics
This one is the easiest tip that I can give you. Don’t let your electronic stuff on STAND BY, turn it off completely.
Fully turning off just one TV for 18 hours a day – let’s say, overnight and when you’re at work – will save about 5kg CO2 a year – saving 2.50$ a year for each device.
Now, do the math counting all your electronics at home
4. Become a flexitarian
I come from a culture very fond of animal products.
But once I made some research and saw the statistics about health and environmental issues…there was no way I was gonna sit here doing nothing.
I am not fully a vegetarian, although I’m not closed to that option in the future. I still consume dairy and eggs from time to time.
Completely cutting off from everything is not an option for every human in this planet, but what if we all did as much as we could?
It’s true that a vegan diet is the one that creates less carbon emissions(29 kg of carbon dioxide per day) ), while a diet based on large amounts of meat is the one that creates the most (71 kg per day).
Just find the perfect balance between a sustainable diet, and a diet that we will be happy and healthy having.
A nice place to start is with a nice vegan cookbook. I personally can recommend you this one: Forks Over Knives. Have you watched the documentary with the same title? If not, you totally should. And then rush and get the book!
5. Buy local and seasonal
I’m a farmers market junkie, and proud of it.
I LOVE walking around. Ah, the people, the smells, the colors.
But for real, eating locally sourced foods and in season can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 10%. Some reasons are:
- No need for transportation
- No need to store food
- No need of hothouses to grow the food
- No need to use extra fertilizer when cultivating food in a non-native climate
So buy as much fresh produce as possible – that means no processed food! Your health will also thank you.
Do you know what fast fashion is? Long story short, it’s a bad thing for the planet.
And having so many alternatives to fast fashion available at the reach of your hand, why would you settle with something you know is bad?
I have an entire post on this telling you my experience detoxing from fast fashion – spoiler alert, I get dramatic.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is: before running to your go-to fast fashion shop, think twice, and then think again.
Do I really need this? Is there a more sustainable way to get it?
Most times you’ll realize that you just want something on a whim and that you really don’t need it.
And if you feel like going on a shopping spree, consider sustainable fashion instead.
Do you need help quitting fast fashion? Check out this post with my top 8 tips.
7. Wash your clothes in cold water
We’re only two people at home, but at the end of the week, we have to put more loads of laundry that I’d like to admit.
Then one day I found out you can generally wash your clothes with cold water without messing them up. And it was a game changer.
That simple change can reduce your washer’s carbon emissions by 75 percent and save you 60 $ for every 300 loads of laundry you clean. Also, cold water works as a sanitizer, equal to warm water.
And it’s supposed to be better to keep the quality of your clothes.
8. Take flights less often and when you do, offset them.
Look, we live in the 21st century and thank god we can travel all we do and everything. But air travel is an environmental problemo.
But I live abroad and have to visit mom and dad from time to time, so…
Sometimes taking a plane is unavoidable, so when I really REALLY have to, I buy a carbon offset along with my flight.
9. Vote for someone who believes in climate change
As if our future depended on it. Because it does.
And doing our best as individuals is AMAZING, but we need someone up there, in the political sphere defending what we stand for.
So vote, and do it in an informed way.
These are the easiest tips I can give you.
What about you? Do you have more ideas?
Have you already tried any of these?
Let me know!