What is carbon footprint reduction?

Lessons on carbon footprint reduction for a more eco-friendly lifestyle

Lessons on carbon footprint reduction for a more eco-friendly lifestyle

For the past few years, the movement of Going Green has been splashed across practically every media outlet in the country encouraging people to “reduce their carbon footprint” and help save the planet. Countless citizens however have no idea what a carbon footprint is, let alone how to reduce it.

For all those wanting to do their part to save the planet but don’t know where to begin, it is time to sit down and take some notes. Carbon footprint reduction 101–because every tree-hugging, Earth-loving environmental activist started out somewhere, right?

The basics

We Americans love our stuff–we buy endless amounts of it every year. Our cars, computers, phones, mp3 players, beauty products, shoes; they are all products that are purchased brand new.

The thing about newly produced items, is that primary resources are utilized to create them, and then more resources on top of that are required to put these items to use for the consumer. For example, there are the raw materials used to construct a new car, and then the fossil fuels that are needed to drive said vehicle.


It is this consumption of resources that begins to build a carbon footprint for businesses and individuals alike. All of the manufacturing in plants and factories in conjunction with usage of newly produced items emit carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. This is where having a big carbon footprint becomes a bad thing.

Literally tons of carbon dioxide are being sent up into the Earth’s atmosphere, building up, and correlating with the issues of climate change and global warming.

Defining “reduction”

Every person has a carbon footprint. The goal is to try and leave as little an impact (or mark, or footprint) on the planet as possible. To do so, one has to take steps towards reducing an already substantial footprint.

Citizens must begin to cut back on their energy consumption in an attempt to leave as little a mark as possible, so that future generations have an actual planet to inherit, not just a big ball of rubbish.

Three simple steps toward carbon footprint reduction

Step 1: Electricity usage produces CO2 emissions, so to save electricity, turn everything off! If no one is in that room, switch that light off. No one’s watching the television? Turn that off too. Better yet, unplug it if possible. Electrical appliances still take electricity when left plugged into an outlet.

To kick it up a notch, consider investing in solar panels for the house. Renewable resources like solar energy help lower the demand for precious fossil fuels.

Step 2: Lose the bottled water. Seriously. Creating the plastic bottles alone leaves a significant carbon footprint, but it gets worse when they have to be shipped all over just to be used once and then thrown away to spend years in trash mountains.

Buy a reusable canteen to fill with filtered tap water; it saves money as well as space in waste piles.

Step 3: Remember the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. People have lived by the three R’s because–number one, they work, and two–it is so easy to lose track of how much stuff we buy, do not use, and then throw away to waste. Try buying less, or buying items that are actually needed, and not just wanted.

Make a recycling bin for the house with one designated for paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass. And most importantly, make the effort to take it out!

Reuse items in the house. If something is broken, fixing it might actually be cheaper than immediately going out and buying a new product.

Consider other ways to to reduce your carbon footprint and impact on the environment by visiting www.EPA.gov to learn more.