You can help defeat climate change by reducing your carbon footprint—the amount of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases, released as a result of the things you do. Even little things make a difference if we all do them. Many have no effect on our lives except to save money, like switching off the light when you leave a room or using public transportation instead of using a car. Your planet needs you.
Here are some things you can do:
Switch it off: huge amounts of greenhouse gas are created by people leaving electronic equipment switched on for no reason. Many gadgets have a “standby” mode which makes them look as if they are off when they are actually using power. The main adapters that power or charge small devices also use power if left plugged in. If you can switch off unused equipment at the wall without affecting the data stored in its memory, then do it.
Use your legs: cars are responsible for a lot of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, so try to avoid using them. Avoid asking to be taken on short car trips because they use a lot more fuel per mile than long ones. Walk or use a bike. It will get you in shape, and can be a lot of fun.
Think about what you eat: a meat-rich diet adds to greenhouse gas emissions because raising animals such as cattle adds a lot of methane to the atmosphere. And some of the meat we buy comes from far away, which uses fossil fuels and increases emissions. It has been calculated that every mouthful of beef that we eat represents the emission of 6,800 times its own weight in greenhouse gases.
Re-use and recycle: our habit of throwing things away contributes to climate change by adding to methane-generating landfill. Try to use things as long as possible, getting them repaired if necessary. If they cannot be repaired, try to get them recycled rather than dumping them.
Buy local: get your family to support your local stores and markets by making shopping expeditions on foot or by bus rather than the car. Avoid buying foods that have traveled halfway around the globe. There is nothing wrong with a few exotic treats, but there is no point in buying air-freighted fruit when the same crop is being grown locally.
Grow a tree: if you get the opportunity, plant a tree—preferably a native one that will provide a home for local wildlife. And let grow big enough to absorb a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If you cannot grow your own tree, support a forest charity that will grow one for you.
Share some of your own ideas or stories about things you’ve done to offset your carbon footprint and you could win a copy of DK’s Eyewitness: Climate Change. Post your comment in the comments field by Wednesday, April 28th. The winner will be announced in the comment thread.