How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Without Going Vegan, Traveling by Foot, or Living Off-Grid

When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, common advice includes avoiding travel by planes, cycling instead of driving, and taking up a vegan diet. While these changes will undoubtedly have a hugely positive impact on reducing your carbon footprint, you may not be inspired to implement them.

Instead, here’s a list of 5 ways you can cut your carbon footprint today without making major changes to your current lifestyle.

Make Socially Conscious Fashion Choices 

Our addiction to fast fashion is destroying the planet. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the fashion industry generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

An average pair of jeans will emit over 33 kilograms of carbon dioxide during its lifecycle. This is the equivalent of operating your computer for more than 1000 hours.

Take a personal pledge to rethink your shopping decisions. Buying vintage clothes and thrift shopping is one option. Alternatively, look at labels when shopping and avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester, opting for clothes made of linen, hemp, bamboo, lyocell, organic wool, or vegan silk.

You can also invest in clothing that is meant to last more than just a few washes. Head over to this subreddit to learn about clothes you can “buy for life.” You can also consider adopting a capsule wardrobe to reduce your clothing consumption, while maximizing outfit options.

Unplug Your Devices 

This is an easy, but often overlooked way to reduce your carbon footprint. Studies show that idle electronics can consume anywhere from 5 to 10 per cent of your electricity bill.

Be sure to unplug your devices when you’re not using them. This means powering down your laptop when it’s not in use and unplugging all electronic devices before going on vacation. For a simple solution, plug your devices into a power strip which you can quickly turn on and off.

Make Your Home Energy Efficient 

Making a home energy efficient will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but will help you save money too. Start off with smaller do-it-yourself tasks like switching to LED lightbulbs, sealing your heating and cooling ducts, and buying low flow shower and faucet heads. Look at your appliances and consider upgrading to modern, energy-efficient ones if what you currently own is outdated. When buying new appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR symbol. The average energy efficient appliance uses 10 to 50 per cent less energy than one which isn’t energy efficient.

When you’re ready to do more, consider hiring a professional energy auditor to come to your property to assess energy efficiency. You’ll get custom advice for your situation and budget. You can also look into adding insulation and weatherstripping, and installing a cool roof or solar panels. Be sure to look into incentives like rebates and tax credits to help offset costs.

Make the Switch to a Socially Responsible Investing Portfolio 

Whether you realize it or not, if you currently have investments and you haven’t set up a socially responsible portfolio, chances are your money is being invested in companies that are contributing to environmental destruction. For most Canadians, this means having investments in fossil fuels. Experts say that if you hold stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and GICs, and other accounts, you’re likely investing in companies with questionable, or downright irresponsible environmental policies.

As an investor, you can make the choice to convert your investment portfolio to a socially responsible one, in order to divest from companies with harmful social and environmental practices.

Research shows that making the decision to invest responsibly may have the biggest impact on your carbon footprint. According to Copower, the annual carbon footprint of a $100,000 investment portfolio is larger than the combined carbon footprint of a round-trip flight, driving a car and eating an omnivorous diet.

Get Political 

Studies show that environmentally-friendly policies are successful in reducing carbon output. In British Columbia, a tax increase from $10 to $30 per ton of carbon dioxide was found to have reduced emissions by 5 to 15 per cent.

Familiarize yourself with your local politicians’ records and stance when it comes to environmental issues. When voting, prioritize candidates who are most likely to support environmentally-friendly policies, and let other candidates know that this issue is an important consideration as you cast your ballot.

However, you don’t have to wait until election time to be politically alive. The David Suzuki Foundation outlines a number of ways you can advocate for environmental issues. You can also look into supporting environmental groups in Canada, who do important work year-round.

Finally, consider purchasing carbon offsets to offset the environmental impact of your lifestyle. Start with calculating your carbon footprint and then buy carbon offsets from a certified provider.

From rethinking your involvement in fast fashion to divesting from companies with poor environmental track records, there are several ways to reduce your carbon footprint without making major changes to your lifestyle. As long as you’re willing to make a few minor tweaks, you can help conserve our planet.