Top 10 don’ts to reduce your carbon footprint

  • Post Written by Jai Kai on September 4, 2009
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Why are many successful people today taking part in green activities and reducing their carbon footprint? They understand the concept of abundance and respect our planet that constantly gives us valuable resources.

What is a carbon footprint?

The often used term focuses on global warming. Simply put, a carbon footprint represents the overall amount of CO2 an individual contributes to the atmosphere. A carbon footprint is made up of both a primary and secondary footprint.

Primary footprint – includes how much electricity, gas, oil and coal we use for our energy and transportation needs. For example, a lifestyle that includes frequent driving and air travel would significantly increase a footprint’s size.

Secondary footprint – includes how much energy or CO2 is used to manufacture, transport and breakdown the products and services we use.

How is a carbon footprint measured?

It is usually measured in tons of carbon used per year. The average North American generates about 20 tons of CO2 each year. The global average carbon footprint is about 4 tons of CO2 per year. Yes, quite a difference. And, this article’s purpose is not to compare and analyze but rather illustrate ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

There are many online calculators that will determine the size of our carbon footprint. No measurement will be 100% accurate but it will highlight areas of our lifestyle that we can change.

Here are a few places to calculate your carbon footprint:

In order to provide a sustainable future for our children and generations to come it is essential that we drastically reduce our carbon footprints. Here are my Top 10 don’ts to help reduce your carbon footprint.

1. Don’t wash your clothes…as often. It may sound gross but see if you can wear your clothes a few times before you throw them in the washing machine. You don’t want to display your mustard stained shirt at work but ask yourself, “Is this shirt really dirty or can I wear it one more time.” Give it the old sniff test.

2. Don’t leave the water running. Remember to turn of your taps when you are not using them. Try shortening your shower by 5 minutes. Water your lawn less. Did you know 95 litres of water can be saved each month by simply turning off the tap while you brush your teeth? In addition to water conservation, it is important to note that water companies use millions of units of energy to treat our water and to pump it to and from our homes. So, less water equals less energy used.

3. Don’t keep your thermostat up – Very simple, if you are not cold and you don’t need the heat, turn it down. Use a programmable thermostat to have your home temperature lower at certain times of the day, especially when you are not home. In the winter, I often keep the temperature lower and wear a nice warm cozy sweater. You can apply the same concept to air conditioning. In the summer, I use an energy efficient fan to stay cool.

4. Don’t drive to work – Try riding a bike, jogging or rollerblading to work. Of course this may not be practical for everyone for various reasons, so why not take a bus or ride share with 2 or more people? Better yet ask your boss if you can work a few days from home.

5. Don’t go to business meetings – If you have to drive or fly somewhere to have a meeting, why not do it over the phone or the web. Our technology just keeps getting better and better. I use skype – a free online service to conduct meetings, video conferences and webinars.

6. Don’t buy books – Visit your local library and sign out a book for free. Most of the latest best sellers are available in libraries within a couple of months being released. You can also get access to popular newspapers and magazines without paying for subscriptions.

7. Don’t Recycle …Freecycle – Just because you can’t sell your old couch on Craigslist doesn’t mean you need to make a trip to the dump. Join the world-wide movement known as the freecycle network and give it away. Visit to join the community and donate a gift in your area.

8. Don’t buy products in packages – All the cardboard and plastic waste ends up in landfills or requires enormous amounts of energy to recycle. Although it may be hard to find certain things without packaging use these tips and shop at stores that will accommodate your greener purchasing habits.

• Buy loose goods in bulk such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee and tea

• Buy concentrated good such as juice, soups and baby formula

• Buy Refills such as laundry detergent and liquid soap.

• Buy smart – I use a bar of soap to shave rather than a can of shaving cream

9. Don’t use disposable items – disposable items create excess waste. Use a coffee mug instead of paper cups, use cloth napkins instead of paper ones and use re-usable diapers if possible.

10. Don’t give into impulse buying – How may things do you end up buying and only using once or twice, then finding it in your closet collecting dust a few months later. Next time you are at the mall, resist the urge to buy that toy, those shoes or latest gadget. Ask yourself “do I really need this”?

The key to success here is to start of gradual, be aware of your habits ad do your best to live a more green lifestyle.

If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate it if you shared it on, StumbleUpon or Twitter. Thank you

6 Comments on “Top 10 don’ts to reduce your carbon footprint”

  • aman rai said:

    Hi Jai,
    Thanks for this post… these are nice easy steps to follow. I will start incorporating these gradually into my life. I usually use lamps for light to be more energy efficient.

  • Anastasiya said:

    I try my best to be as green as possible and your tips are really useful. I need to show my husband tip #1:-) Sometimes I get tired of washing his clothes a few times a week because he liked to wear all his shirts and shorts just once.
    I wanted to add one tip about plastic bags. I know that most grocery stores collect these bags and then recycle them. The most important thing is not to forget to take your bags to the store the next time that you are going there.
    Also if you buy a new TV or any other appliances you should ask the store about recycling your old ones. Most stores will do it for you at absolutely no cost.

  • Jai Kai - said:

    @ Aman – glad you enjoyed. I use halogen lights in my lamps because they are more energy effecient,
    @ Anastasiya thanks for the added tips re: plastic bags. A lot of stores are now banning plastic bags and only using paper bags. We shop at Whole Foods and Planet Organic where they only use paper or canvas bags.

  • Krishna said:

    Very powerful post and very powerful tips.

    Showering less is a tip I can immediately apply. Out where I live in Melbourne, there is water shortage and conserving water in anyway will help the environment in more ways than one.

    Also great links, esp I searched and found half a dozen groups near where I live in Melbourne, I wasn’t expecting that !

    A question, though, what do you think about the commercial aspects of “green”. Sometimes I feel so many companies are jumping into the “green” bandwagon and labeling their products eco-friendly that we need more sites like “goodguide” to find out the real impact of our habits on the environment…

  • Madeleine said:

    Hi Jai, Thanks for the good tips and the useful references about calculating your carbon footprint. I live in Seattle which has an aggressive program of recycling for glass, paper, plastic bags, and such. It also picks up yard and food waste and paper from paper-shredders which go to a composting facility. There’s not much left that needs to go to a landfill.

    One thing to think about besides your carbon footprint is your utility bill. When you use water, you get charged twice: once for the cost of providing the clean water and once for the cost of treating the wastewater. Even if you water your lawn and there is no wastewater, you get charged anyway.
    So there are several good reasons to not use too much water. Great job.

  • Jai Kai - said:

    @ Krishna – Yeah I agree a lot of companies use the green label as a marketing tool to enhance their image and sales. I think we need to take due diligence and research some of these companies and assess if they are really green. Then make informed decisions.

    @Madeline – That’s Great I didn’t know Seattle was so environmental friendly. Maybe it’s a west coast thing. Vancouver is the same. Hopefully other states can follow suit.

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