This weekend we had marches in 610 cities begging Trump (and the American government as a whole) to take heed of what science tells us about Global Warming (among other things). The dark side of this is that it is now abundantly clear that the United States cannot rely on its government for any action against climate change. However, the bright side of this is equally obvious; the people are ready to change. They want to rethink their lifestyles. And the whole point of Ecohax is to tell you how to do that. So, in light of recent events I have compiled a list of three giant fossil fuel emitters that you have the power to change. Cut down in these three areas and you can reduce your emissions by more than a third, today!
Animal agriculture is responsible for about 14% or greenhouse gas emissions, and a lot of this is methane, which is significantly more destructive to the atmosphere than Carbon Dioxide. It is also a huge water consumer and a driving force behind epidemics and antibiotic resistant bacteria, so think about that next time you bite into a steak.
What can you do?
It’s refreshingly simple, just stop eating meat! Believe me you won’t miss your steak that much once you start acquiring a taste for falafel, black beans, seitan and the other delicious meat alternatives that are hitting the shelves these days. If this seems extreme to you, you could also cut down to just chicken and fish, as these have a much lower carbon footprint than pork, lamb, and especially beef. Eggs can stay too if you’re attached, but try to cut out dairy (kinda comes from the same animal as beef does).
I’ll start with a disclaimer, I am substantially more guilty in this area than most. However, the facts are the facts, and if we want to keep global warming under three degrees, we’re going to have to take a good hard look at them.
Air travel accounts for around 5% of global emissions. However, as the majority of the world has never been in an airplane, it is mainly our socio-economic class that is responsible for this, meaning that the impact air travel has on your personal carbon footprint is likely to be somewhere between 10-20%, depending on how much you fly. While airplane technology is slowly becoming more efficient, air travel is quickly becoming more widespread, so this 5% is likely to grow in the next few years.
Not only do airplanes emit CO2, but they emit other warming agents, toxic chemicals and contrails which trap heat that would have otherwise escaped from the earth.
The government is unlikely to step in. An airplane is going to spent a lot of time in a lot of different countries as well as international waters, so they are notoriously difficult to regulate. It’s really up to us, the consumer. So…
What can you do?
Well the obvious answer is, stop flying. There are other ways to get around and almost all of them have a lower carbon footprint than airplanes. If you’re going to fly try to take direct routes, and avoid layovers. The bulk of the fuel used in air travel is (obviously) used during take-off.
You could also vote with your dollars and pick a greener airline. While I don’t have the data to find this out for you, CNN beat me to it. Apparently the greenest airlines in Europe are Air France, Lufthansa, and British Airways, and the greenest in the US are Virgin America, Alaska Airlines and United. Giving your money to these airlines will incentivize their competitors to use cleaner technology.
Household emissions are responsible for about 10% of global emissions, and about 25% of the average American’s carbon footprint. We’re going to focus on the two biggest culprits, heating and appliances.
Water heating and heating make up for about a third of your household emissions, or a half if you live in a cold climate. About a quarter of that is appliances. This refers to your computer, your TV, your toaster, your oven, and your Darth Vader Light Saber Handheld Immersion Blender (by the way this is not subliminal advertising; please don’t buy one of those). It is surprisingly easy to dramatically reduce your emissions on both these fronts, so let’s get started!
What can you do?
While heating homes has been an important part of keeping us, like, alive for centuries, there are certain precautions you can take to reduce the impact your heating system has on your carbon footprint. For one, insulate your home, and insulate your hot water heater! It will cost a couple hundred bucks at most and it will save you much more than that. If you would like a guide on some simple ways you can do this, WikiHow’s got you covered. Also, washing your clothes, washing your dishes and for the daring; washing yourself with cold water is a huge help.
As for the appliances, this one isn’t rocket science. Just unplug them when you’re done! I know, I know, it takes a precious 10 seconds out of your day, but it will reduce your carbon footprint and leave a prettier world for your grandchildren so there’s that! Also, when you are purchasing appliances look for the energy star. Nobody has the time to research every toaster they buy, but fortunately, energy star did it for you!
Finally, if you’re a homeowner; consider going solar. While they are quite expensive, some countries/states will subsidize them, driving the installation costs down significantly. And of course, you will save a lot of money as well, and they should pay for themselves within 6-15 years depending on how much you pay and how much sunlight you get.
So there you have it.
Three easy fixes that can cut your emissions down by a third. I know these things can be inconvenient, but we’ve got some hard years ahead of us and if you want to help the environment, sometimes it can mean making some sacrifices. Good luck everybody, and don’t forget to subscribe to our facebook page!