By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
Our carbon footprint over the last decade or so has increased exponentially. This is because of two main reasons. First, industrial production has increased to fulfill capitalistic approaches. Second, individuals have also amplified their consumption of resources – natural and artificial – to satisfy their wants and needs.
According to an article published in the digital edition of the New York Times, “A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production, use and end-of-life of a product or service. It includes carbon dioxide — the gas most commonly emitted by humans — and others, including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming. Usually, the bulk of an individual’s carbon footprint will come from transportation, housing and food.”
This article will look at how we, as individuals, can reduce our carbon footprint to keep our planet greener and healthier. We all must reflect on our daily actions and scrutinize our activities. Whether we are traveling, eating or taking everyday actions to sustain our lives, we are – at some point or the other – creating and increasing our carbon footprint. Here are some ways through which we can decrease our footprint.
We must calculate the number of times we use a car on one normal day. If you are going to your office then using the car is a necessity. However, you should walk to places that are close to your office or home. This will help you reduce your car’s fuel consumption and will let you walk, which is good for your health. Moreover, carpooling is another way you can reduce your carbon footprint. For instance, if two or more than two persons carpool to college, university or office, then they will collectively save driving two extra cars. Commuting through public buses is a case in point. A public bus on average can transport thirty to fifty passengers and at times more. This means that fifty cars and equivalent motorcycles will not be used when these persons use a mode of public transport.
Driving efficiently also helps you reduce your carbon footprint. If you accelerate faster and reach a higher speed in a lesser amount of time, you will emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, driving slow, pressing your accelerator lightly and driving as if you have a glass ornament placed on top of your hood will help you emit a lesser amount of carbon emission.
It is a norm at home that when your overhead water tank is full, it spills water out of its pipes. This water is often wasted. Put a rubber pipe on the exit area of the overhead tank. This rubber pipe should be long enough to reach into a bucket. When the overhead tank is full and it spills water, it will not be wasted but it will be collected in a bucket which you can reuse later.
Plant A Garden
People often complain they cannot plant a garden because they are short of space in their homes. This happens when one lives in an apartment. You can always create your own garden whether you are living in an apartment or in a home. All you need is a container to put in mud and small saplings. In case you are residing in an apartment, you can keep this plant container in your balcony or can hang it at a place that receives ample sunlight and fresh air. You can do the same at your office. You can place small flowerpots with plants that can grow in a domestic environment.
We must also try to grow food at our homes. When fruits and vegetables are grown organically and in a smaller case they take the burden off the environment. The environmental costs are reduced to a greater extent.
Drying Your Clothes
Once you have used a washing machine to wash your clothes, prevent using its dryer. Research suggests that a drying machine of a washing machine consumes nearly five times more electricity than drying. Studies also claim that you reduce your carbon footprint by nearly 1/3 times when you dry your clothes on a clothesline.
Unplug Your Devices
It is necessary to recharge your devices. However, overcharging your devices not only affects the battery life of your device but it also consumes electricity. Make a rule at your home or at the office to unplug your devices (cell phones, tablets, rechargeable torch lights) the moment their batteries are fully charged.
Air travel is perhaps one of the biggest contributors to increasing human’s carbon footprint. Governments of developed and developing countries must ensure that people use alternate means of transportation when traveling within a country. For instance, the bullet train system in Japan connects its various cities and people do not opt for using airplanes. Similarly, trains across Europe are well-equipped with all necessities, are comfortable and can take passengers from one city to the other in a few hours.
You must regularly check the performance of your air-conditioners (at home and at the office), your car and refrigerator. When these electronic gadgets are working at optimum efficiency they tend to release a lesser amount of emissions that damage the environment.
Try turning off all lights, bulbs and fans that you are not using. Conserve as much energy as possible. You must also teach your children to do the same.
Changing trends require you to change how you use energy. We can install solar panels on the roof of our homes. This way we can consume solar energy as an alternate source to electricity at homes after sunset.