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7 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Hey readers, it’s April 22, which means it’s Earth Day! Since it’s the one day that many people are genuinely interested in helping the environment, here’s a list of 7 simple things YOU can do to decrease your carbon footprint:

  1. Lower your meat and dairy consumption

Meat and dairy make up a sizable percentage of CO2 emissions. According to University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems, American household food consumption contributes to 8.1 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. These greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, gases heavily produced during meat and dairy production. In fact, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has found that emissions from meat and dairy production and consumption will become the majority source of greenhouse gas emissions. What this means for us, people who want to live on a habitable planet, is that we should ease up on our meat and dairy consumption. If there’s is less of a demand for these things, there will be less of a need for large scale production that is ultimately harming the environment. This doesn’t mean that everyone should go vegan, that could actually harm the environment too. Maybe pick a day out of each week, or even a meal out of each day, to avoid eating meat and dairy products.

2. Recycle — especially aluminum

This is a little cliche but still very valuable because there are a lot of products that should be recycled but aren’t. For example, old cosmetic products, like tubes of mascara or bottles of lotion, can easily be recycled after rinsing them out with water. Keep in mind that certain things, like papers and plastics, cannot be recycled together, so make sure to check the bottom of the thing you’re recycling for any instructions. You can also check with your local recycling center. Another important thing to mention is that aluminum is 100% recyclable, so it can be repurposed indefinitely as long as its clean. (shout out to Jason Momoa for this information— he shaved his iconic beard to promote environmental awareness)

3. Limit Your Waste

According to the EPA, on average, Americans produce around 5 pounds of trash per person each day. That’s quite a bit of trash considering there’s roughly 327 million people in America, and that’s only one country’s trash. Taking simple steps to limit your trash, like using reusable bags to carry your lunch or investing in reusable razors, would make a big difference. A big part of the problem is that many of us don’t take into account the little things that we do that contribute to a big portion of our waste. So maybe next time you go grocery shopping, bring some reusable bags and swap your usual purchases for reusable alternatives.

4. Ask for a strawless lid at Starbucks

In 2017, Starbucks introduced the Nitro Cold Brew, which came with a cool new feature— a strawless lid for cold drinks. This lid allows you to get your favorite iced drinks without having to use a straw, which pollutes the ocean and is dangerous to marine life. So next time you go to Starbucks, ask for a strawless lid, or a “nitro lid.” The turtles will thank you.

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5. Walk, bike, and take public transportation

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, cars contribute to about 20% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. If many of us chose to find alternative methods of transportation, that percentage would decrease by a lot.

6. Pick up trash you see in natural environments

Natural environments tend to inadvertently combat high carbon dioxide emissions by absorbing and converting the gases released. However, the surplus of trash that ends up in these environments works against them in that they harm both the plants and the animals in these areas. This keeps those plants and animals from effectively counteracting the effects of carbon emissions. Anything you can do to help nature work its magic would help prevent the deterioration of natural environments. For example, on your next vacation, pick up some pieces of trash on the beach or in the ocean. This helps preserve various marine organisms, like seaweed and plankton, that absorb quite a bit of carbon dioxide.

7. Talk to your parents!

While there are a lot of things that you, personally, can do, if you’re not of legal age to vote, it’s important to reach out to those in your life that can. The majority of carbon emissions, while from various types of pollutants, come from about 100 corporations. Those of us who can’t vote yet, can’t do a lot about that, but our parents can. It’s really important for all of us to talk to our parents about the worrying state of our environment before it’s too late. If we can convince our parents to elect legislators who will hold those producing the most emissions accountable, we can really make a change.

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