I bet my carbon footprint is smaller than yours. The lower your footprint, the less you contribute to climate change. According to the EPA’s Individual Household Emissions Calculator, the average American’s footprint is estimated at 20,750 pounds of CO2, while mine is a mere 5141. That’s pretty good and pretty green, even if I say so myself.
Of course online calculators like the EPA’s are geared toward the homeowner, not an apartment dweller like me. For a more accurate figure I had to guesstimate my share of the CO2 generated by the heat in my building. Without a consideration for heat, my number is 828. Very low indeed.
No matter how I add it up, my contribution to climate change is minimal. It’s all about how I live.
My green-ness happened gradually, beginning with little changes I made before I even realized they were green. When I got divorced, quit my corporate job and my children left the nest, I began downsizing. I changed my eating, buying and shopping habits. I later learned a few new things from my really green daughter and son in law.
These days I live alone and live very frugally. Here are a few other things I do to reduce my carbon footprint.
1. I Take Public transportation
I don’t have a car and that puts me way ahead on the carbon footprint scale. My car was totaled in an accident and I never bought another one. I’ve been taking public transportation for nearly 10 years now.
2. I buy only what I need
It takes labor and energy to produce and transport everything we buy. I have taken myself out of that chain of consumerism for the most part. I don’t buy newspapers or magazines. I rarely buy household items and clothing. I create jewelry but I only buy what I need to make and market my creations.
When I write, I do it online; so I rarely use paper. I buy personal care items, food and an occasional used book.
3. I Buy local wherever possible
I usually make most of the gifts I give. If I buy a gift, it’s likely to have been produced by a local artist or crafter. I shop at a national chain grocer based in Cincinnati. They buy some produce from local farmers and their distribution center is here. I also buy in-season fruits and veggies from Findlay Market.
That way I get to meet the farmers who produce the food I eat. I carry away my purchases in a reusable bag.
4. I Don’t Cook Every Day
When I cook I usually make a large one dish casserole, stew, soup or stir-fry for several days of easy meals. I can heat a single serving easily and quickly. By not cooking every day, I save energy.
5. I rarely eat beef.
Cows release methane into the air. If you eat beef, you contribute to that emission. I haven’t given up beef completely, but I eat it very rarely.
6. I Recycle
My apartment building doesn’t have recycling bins, but I use neighborhood bins when available. Sometimes I turn recyclables over to my daughter and she takes them to recycling centers.
Read also: How You Can Winterize Your Home on the Cheap
7. I Reuse
- I store tools and beads in plastic coffee containers.
- I use plastic food trays to hold materials while I’m working.
- I buy copper sheet metal from salvage yards and have developed techniques for turning plastic shampoo, lotion and pharmacy bottles into jewelry.
- When I sold lots of eBay items a few customers would collect used boxes and bubble envelopes and send them back to me to reuse.
- I donate my reusable items to Goodwill.