Why Do I Have A Carbon Footprint And Why Does It Matter?

With all of the discussion around the climate crisis and environmental health, you may have heard the term Carbon Footprint. Your personal carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases, that you produce through your actions.

The release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from human activity is a measurable impact of our effect on the environment. As mentioned in the satirical movie Don’t Look Up, all of the data is there in front of our face. We cannot ignore it. Now is the time for action.

All of us can do our part for our future and the preservation of our gorgeous world. Small actions put together make huge progress.

Be Aware Of Your Environmental Impact

Often there is an indirect environmental impact when you are buying particular clothing or a more direct impact like choosing to travel by plane or train.

Transportation:

This one might be the most obvious but every time we fly a plane it produces massive amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that are released into the atmosphere. Choosing to take a train or carpool for shorter distances is a better option for the environment.

Ditch the car for a walk up to the shops if they’re only a few blocks away. Enjoy your walk outside and make it part of your self-care routine. Instead of setting aside time to exercise or go to the gym, you’ll find this incidental exercise much more enjoyable and it doesn’t cost money to put on your walking shoes and a backpack with your shopping bags. Don’t forget your reusable drink bottle!

Clothing:

This one is surprising… the clothing industry accounts for 10% of all global carbon emissions annually. That is more than the flying and shipping industries emit each year. When you purchase an item of clothing you are accepting all of the steps involved in producing that t-shirt or pair of socks. Some companies may offset their carbon emissions by purchasing “Carbon Credits” however, there is a lot of controversy around carbon credits as this can be seen as an excuse to continue with less environmentally-friendly practices. This is also sometimes referred to as “Greenwashing” or making something seem better for the environment than it really is.

To reduce your environmental impact when purchasing clothing, you can choose to support companies that are transparent with their business practices and environmental considerations. Purchasing less clothing is also very important. If you select higher quality items that last longer, then you will spend less money in the long run because you won’t be buying more items to replace your torn t-shirt or jeans. In-turn, you reduce the amount of resources used around the world, many of which are in limited supply.

Additional Environmental Note: A massive amount of water is used in the production of denim jeans. The best place to purchase denim (and other clothing) is at a second-hand shop.

Purchasing Power:

Where you spend your money is one of the most important decisions you can make when considering your impact on the world. Many of the banks and superannuation funds that hold your money are using the money to invest in particular companies and projects, including those that pollute the environment, such as coal mines and oil companies. You can research the investments of each of the companies and make your decision to put your money where you would like it to be used best.

The main place where you’d put your money, other than the bank, is at the shops! Buying lower quality items from companies that use unsustainable practices to produce their products means that you support the actions of these companies. The cheap knock offs might seem okay but look behind the price and cheap materials to see the real priorities of the people who are taking your money and using it to continue their unethical practices.

Food Waste:

When you compost food properly then the right bacteria breaks the food down and it is converted into a nutrient-rich fertilizer containing the forms of nitrogen and carbon necessary for plants to grow. When food waste is sent to landfill the lack of oxygen and the right types of bacteria prevent the composting process from occurring as normal. Huge amounts of greenhouse gases are produced when food rots in the rubbish dump instead of being composted under the correct conditions.

The best way to reduce food waste going to landfill is to be more conscious of your purchasing, take stock of the food you already have and use it up before it goes bad and is thrown in the bin. Use a shopping list when doing the grocery shop for the household. Don’t buy more than you will use up before it expires. Freeze extra food before it goes bad. Use up leftovers! Share your food saving tips in the comments.

Repair, Reduce and Reuse before you Recycle:

When recycling materials such as plastic bottles there are a lot of resources used up in the recycling process, such as water and electricity. The recycled plastic then loses its integrity and can only be used for certain applications. Recycled plastic can’t be recycled back into the same strong plastic it was before. Even with plastic recycling programs available, only a small percentage of all plastic is recycled. The best option for the environment is to refuse plastic and other types of low quality items, rather than trying to recycle all of the plastic that is produced.

When you purchase clothing and footwear of good quality you will find that they not only last longer but you can often repair them to extend the life and prevent more waste going to landfill. This is also true for some larger items like furniture and appliances.

Thank you so much for joining me today in learning more about our carbon footprint and why it matters.

Have a read of my previous post on reducing the waste you produce in your home and some simple swaps you can make to help the environment. Visit my online store for some handmade environmentally friendly, low carbon-footprint products.

Comment below with your tips on reducing your environmental impact!

Featured Image credit: Shutterstock

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