There are many voices out there that claim to help you reduce your carbon footprint. Project Neutral is one of the only practical tools that tells you your personal carbon footprint based on local data AND offers you actions you can take to reduce it. Our personal carbon footprint comes primarily from transportation, homes, and food. Decarbonizing our lifestyle is actually quite simple!
For transportation, shrinking your carbon footprint is a two step process. The first stage involves reconsidering your travel needs. Some trips may be possible by active transportation such as biking. Public transit may work for trips within your city. Have you tried carpooling or car-sharing for some journeys?
You’re out of office meetings can be offset by using teleconferencing tools. If a personal vehicle is still necessary, choosing the smallest electric vehicle that meets your requirements can help you achieve zero emissions for transportation. Here in Ontario, our electricity comes largely from a clean electricity grid which does not produce significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. As a consequence, emissions associated with driving an electric vehicle are negligible, especially if it is recharged during off-peak hours.
The major source of carbon emissions for homes is from heating the home and water. Start by improving the energy efficiency of the home through draft-proofing; adding insulation; upgrading lighting and appliances. Heat pumps with electric resistance heating backup can provide all our heating and cooling needs, even in our colder climate.
Not all food is created equal. A plant-based diet has a smaller carbon footprint than an omnivore diet. One also can’t generally go wrong by choosing seasonal, local produce. Choose to eat less meat and choose plant-based proteins more often. Reducing food waste and using green bins or compost can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions set off when food is placed in landfills. We are lucky here in Southern Ontario to have access to tasty local food all year-round!
Bonus: Put your money and your voice where your values are
It may be surprising but your financial investments may in fact contribute significantly to your carbon footprint. Divesting from fossil fuels can provide a double whammy by reducing your personal climate impact while simultaneously defunding the fossil fuel industry. Money re-invested in renewable energy projects can provide competitive returns while leading to further decarbonisation.
Simple, isn’t it? Reduce your demand for energy in transportation and home heating, and switch as much as you can to electric. Eat a plant-based diet with local, seasonal produce. Divest from fossil fuels. That is all it takes to lead a near zero carbon lifestyle. Achievable? Absolutely. Easy? Maybe not without some government policy changes and incentives. So here is the last ingredient: let your political leaders know that climate change is a concern and that you would like to see more climate action. We CAN do it!
By: Heather McDiarmid
Photo Credit: Evie Shaffer, Unsplash