Last week, Casper Magazine opened our month of talking about the carbon crisis by chatting with Dave Rouse, CEO of carbon off-setting start-up Carbon Click. This week, we’re bringing the mission to reduce the environmental damage done by greenhouse gas emissions a little closer to home by going over some of the things we as individuals can do to lessen humanity’s wider impact on the planet.
Although it can feel like your actions aren’t making a difference when big companies are responsible for far more carbon emissions than individuals, our smaller choices can come together to make a bigger change than we realise.
They say knowledge is power, but what about knowledge of power? Getting information about the environmental impact of different stores and brands will help you minimise the emissions caused by your shopping choices. Spending your money with businesses that are doing better by the planet will also encourage industries on the whole to follow the market and create widescale change – though make sure you keep an eye out for businesses that are cheating by greenwashing!
There are more resources than ever that compile information about how businesses are approaching the climate crisis, making it easier to compare similar products and services. For example, Good On You is an app that shows you the environmental practices of different fashion brands, while Greenpeace’s REenergise campaign ranks banks, retailers, and other major Australian organisations based on their plans for renewable energy. Even something as simple as considering energy star ratings when on the hunt for a new appliance will help you make more informed decisions about your long-term environmental impact.
One person going carless for a year could prevent around 2.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from polluting the atmosphere, according to a 2017 study by Lund University and the University of British Columbia. Walking or cycling for short journeys and using public transport for longer ones can save the environment from a lot of damage.
Some journeys make it impossible to avoid using a car (whether it’s your own vehicle or a rideshare), but there are still things you can do to minimise your emissions. If you can, it’s a good idea to drive only as close to your destination as you need to before continuing on foot or on public transport, and avoiding high traffic areas like the city allows you to limit the emissions caused by idling. If using your own car, it’s also important to get it serviced regularly and keep your tires at the right pressure – not only is it safer, but it also helps your vehicle run more efficiently.
Regular Casper Magazine readers will know that fast fashion – the fashion industry’s cycle of quickly generating new trends and producing cheaply made, non-durable clothes – is terrible for the environment in so many ways. Excessive carbon emissions are one of the consequences of this business model, with the industry responsible for ten percent of worldwide carbon emissions each year.
Buying fewer, more durable clothing items from labels with sustainable practices is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. Fortunately, Casper Magazine is full of ideas about how you can make greener clothing choices, from curated brand recommendations to tips for making the most out of your existing wardrobe.
An article in the environmental science journal Environmental Research Letters found that red meat can have up to 100 times the environmental impact of a plant-based diet because it requires more land, water, and energy for farming and production processes. Although many of us find it difficult to cut meat out of our diet altogether, you can still moderate your impact by eating less than you did before. Consider making certain days of the week meat-free or swapping out some servings of red meat like beef and lamb for less carbon-intensive options like chicken.
Avoiding out-of-season food and eating more local produce can also help reduce your carbon footprint by minimising the energy used in storage and transport. There are a few complicating factors to weigh up here – such as whether your extended drive to the farmer’s market is worth exchanging for truckloads of produce being brought to your local supermarket – but it’s worth putting some thought into.
Let’s face it – there are lots of activities that produce carbon emissions that we’re never going to avoid completely. As it stands, useful technologies like electric cars aren’t widely available and large-scale industrial change needs more time. However, the target of ‘net zero’ emissions doesn’t mean releasing no carbon at all; instead, we need to make sure that for every bit we’re putting out, we’re taking just as much back in.
Carbon offsetting is the process of funding projects that remove equivalent amounts of carbon emissions from the air as your lifestyle or work unavoidably releases. This is most commonly seen in landscape restoration projects that plant carbon-dioxide-absorbing trees, but Australia’s Climate Council highlights that you can also provide funds to help community projects afford more sustainable technology to reduce their emissions.
Tech start-ups like Carbon Click are providing convenient ways for consumers to offset emissions for individual purchases at the checkout, but you can also fund projects directly to pay off your carbon footprint more holistically (though be careful to choose offsets that are legitimate!).
Carbon emissions are a global problem that won’t be solved by individual decisions. But as more people make conscious choices to intervene in the crisis, our individual efforts can form together to make a world of difference.
To learn about Made of Air’s innovative carbon-storing plastic (which keeps it out of the atmosphere for centuries!), click here.
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