Over the past 150 years, humanity has seen a dramatic increase in the exploitation of fossil fuels. While these resources have been used extensively to improve the lives of humans around the world, doing so is taking a toll on the health of Mother Earth. Although many scientists have been working to develop new sustainable technologies to help reduce the amount of carbon emissions, fossil fuels are still the main source for the production of clothing, electricity, food processing, energy production, and transportation. Plus, the alternative technologies are often out of the price range for a number of global citizens, making it seemingly difficult for the masses to make a difference.
Fortunately, there is hope – all it takes is some mindfulness in our daily routines to make a positive impact on our environment!
Here is a list of free and/or low-cost lifestyle changes I’ve made to personally reduce my carbon footprint.
Take shorter showers.
We all know the feeling when the warm water hits our skin on a cold morning. It’s our time to awaken, refresh, and cleanse ourselves for the day ahead. However, did you know that the average shower uses up to 5 gallons (19 litres) of water PER MINUTE? So reality check: if you take a 15-minute shower, you are using approximately 75 gallons (284 litres) of water!
Now, if you’re used to taking long and luxurious showers, cutting it down to 6 or 7 minutes may not be easy – especially if you have long locks that need some extra TLC. So to start, try setting a 15 minute timer and decrease the time by 1 minute each day. Eventually, you’ll be so speedy you won’t even need a timer any more! It’ll also put some extra cash in your wallet by significantly reducing the amount of water used per month.
Make use of natural light.
This one is pretty simple and self-explanatory. While the sun is shining, why not make use of the natural energy it provides for us? Not only will this reduce the amount of electricity needed to power your house in a day (keeping more money in your pocket – yay!), the sun is also an excellent source of Vitamin D – a keystone vitamin for boosting immune and neuromuscular function, as well as maintaining healthy bone structure. Some of you may need to rearrange your rooms or offices to maximize this opportunity, but I assure you it is worth it!
Buy clothing from second hand stores.
I get it – retail therapy can do wonders when you’re having a bad day, week, or month. We all need to treat ourselves to a little something special every once in a while. But instead of supporting corporate-owned stores at the shopping mall, why not make the conscious decision to check out your local thrift shops? In doing so, you will be supporting local business, reduce the need for increased production of new clothing, AND… chances are you will build a wardrobe that is completely unique to you. Some of my favourite articles of clothing are from my thrifting adventures, and I never cease to get a compliment. The vintage look is back in style anyways, so why not embrace it!
A great solution to reducing the amount of plastics used on a daily basis is to purchase a glass water bottle and containers for your lunches. Not only do these products last longer, but they are free of harmful toxins typically found in disposable water bottles (BPA, polystyrene, PVC, phthalates, etc.). One brand of glassware I recommend is Lifefactory – I purchased my water bottle (see below) at the health food store, Goodness Me! and haven’t looked back since!
If you’re an essential oil lover, like myself, glass bottles are also much safer when adding oils to your water. Since they are highly volatile compounds, EOs often chew away at the plastic, releasing the nasty chemicals you were hoping to avoid in the first place. Some of my favourite oils to put in my water are Lemon EO, a natural internal cleanser and detoxifier, and Peppermint, a natural digestive aid. Tea tree oil is another amazing addition to your water with several different antimicrobial benefits. However, do so sparingly (for example, during cold and fly season) because it is known to be an antibacterial agent, and thus can cause mild gastrointestinal discomfort.
Incorporate vegetarian / vegan meals into your diet.
It should be no surprise that it costs more money to raise livestock than to grow fruits and vegetables. However, did you know that according to the USGS, livestock farms in the United States on average withdrew 2,140 million gallons PER DAY. In metric terms, that is a whopping 8.1 billion litres PER DAY! Now let’s take a step back and compare the stats of agricultural water usage. Though the USGS states that 128,000 million gallons per day is used on irrigation of crops, we must take into account the amount of crops that are produced for the sole purpose of animal feed. In fact, it as been reported that of all the soy and corn crops produced in the US, 47% of soy and 60% of corn crops are consumed by livestock.
Feedlots also significantly contribute to the amount of pollution and toxins in our atmosphere, due to the large amounts of flatulent-produced methane, and the massive cesspools of toxic waste from excrement. For more information on this issue, check out this eye-opening video by Mark Devries exposing the horrific truth of feedlots. With these facts in mind, we can only imagine the significant positive impacts that would occur if the larger population switched to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
My last piece of advice to reduce your carbon footprint is to support your local grocer and farmers market. In doing so, you will support the local economy of the farmers in your area. Your food will always be fresh and in season – yum! It decreases the amount of gas needed for transportation. Plus, with a little bit of research you can find a local farm that uses ethical and organic farming methods, helping you to clear your conscious sleep better at night.
Well friends, there you have it – my top six tips to reducing your carbon footprint and being an advocate for a sustainable future!
Have any more tips and tricks? Feel free to comment below - I would love to hear from you!
In love & light,