Carbon Footprint Reduction Challenge
by Enid Chiu
With 2014 in full swing, many New Year’s resolutions are nothing more than a distant memory. We are approaching the time of year when people take renewed vows of self improvement for several weeks, recognizing it as limited but important time to challenge themselves in some way. People often give up personal vices, such as snacking or social media, while others add habits like daily exercise.
During this time, I’m not giving up sugar or television. Instead, I have decided to embark on a carbon fast. This entails taking steps to reduce my carbon footprint while striving to build a more sustainable environment. I realized that my decisions in previous years revolved solely around short-lived attempts at personal improvement. This year I wanted to approach something that would benefit more than just myself and potentially have longer-lasting impacts on my behavior. If this is something that interests you, here are some specific practices that could be taken to make your carbon footprint smaller:
- Power off/unplug appliances not in use
- Install EnergyStar rated energy efficient appliances
- Choose water-efficient appliances, in particular WaterSense labeled fixtures (they save energy, too!)
- “Shower smarter” by taking shorter showers or using buckets to capture water while the shower is warming up (use the captured water for watering plants or even flushing toilets)
- Reduce thermostat by at least two degrees
- Limit car trips by relying on biking, walking, public transportation, and carpooling
- Make Meatless Monday a habit, or change to a meat-free/plant-based diet
- Purchase locally grown produce
- Increase the amount of material that you recycle
- Talk about your decision to reduce your carbon footprint – a little conversation can inspire many!
Making these types of lifestyle changes will be a challenge, especially with our culture of consumption and convenience. Some people may choose to take all these actions at once while others may focus on a few actions at a time. Try using your calendar to help you tackle a couple of changes each week, or maybe there’s an app that can help. However you choose to approach it, take this time to reflect on your relationship with the environment and how we can be good stewards of the resources we have available.
Are you inspired to reduce your carbon footprint? Tell us in the comments!
About the Author: Enid Chiu is an environmental engineer in the Office of Drinking Water and Source Water Protection. Outside of the office, Enid enjoys helping others through music, pleasing others through food and dreaming.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.
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