Climate Crisis: What You Can Do to Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Climate Crisis
© Mark Weaver

There’s no doubt that stronger laws, putting pressure on corporations and voting for environment-friendly candidates will have the most substantial impact on slowing climate change. But individual households can also do their part — look at California’s embrace of alternative-fuel vehicles.

Here are a few suggestions for how to lower your carbon footprint, starting with one of the hardest ones.

Fly Economy

Business class creates almost three times the emissions of economy; first class causes nine times more emissions than economy. If you’re flying business or first class, then you can probably afford to purchase carbon offsets directly through airlines including Delta, JetBlue and Alaska, or buy your own through climateactionreserve.org.

Buy an Electric or a Hybrid Vehicle

If those options aren’t feasible, even though they are more cost competitive than ever, choose a vehicle with an eye to its fuel efficiency rating. Using less gas saves money and causes fewer greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. 

Switch to LED Bulbs 

LED lightbulbs are five times more efficient than incandescent lightbulbs and last 25 times longer.

Unplug Your Charger 

Remove it (and all cords for appliances not in use) from the wall socket. When you’re not charging a device, the cord is still drawing energy from the grid, whether it’s plugged into the device or not.

Reuse Bags and Bottles

Avoid single-use grocery bags and plastic water bottles. Plastic is being detected in the organisms that populate waterways. When you go to set or your office, bring a metal water bottle.

Go Meatless

If you eat meat seven days a week, try eating it six days a week with, perhaps, a meatless Monday. Industrial farming is among the biggest causes of GHG emissions. Eat organic, local and seasonal whenever possible — less travel time for food to the table means less fossil fuel in transporting it.

Turn Down the Water Heater Thermostat 

Keeping the temperature above your desired level for showering burns fossil fuels, needlessly creating GHG emissions.

Rip Out Your Lawn

Replace it with indigenous plants and grasses that frequently require less water. 

Buy Quality Clothing That Lasts 

Cheap, poorly made fast fashion often ends up in a landfill. Wash your clothes in cold water. Use 100% recycled or bamboo sourced toilet paper and tissue.

Invest in Solar Power 

Solar companies will even work out a lease or financing plan that still results in your electricity bill being less than you’re paying now.  

Actor and filmmaker Michael Zelniker serves as co-chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the Climate Reality Project, former Vice President Al Gore’s organization.