How Can You Help? Ways to Actively Limit Your Carbon Footprint

Written by Sarah Whiteside

Designed by Abbey Tan

“Living eco-friendly” is a phrase that is commonly thrown around. These environmentally friendly habits stem from learned behaviors that have been taught to us by our peer groups and society. Many people are crowd followers and seek approval from others. Oftentimes, conformity is essential in initiating change. For instance, reusable water bottles such as Hydro Flasks have gained tremendous popularity over the past few years and are a great alternative to plastic water bottles. Plastic water bottles are not biodegradable; they can harm marine life as toxins leach into the water. An estimated four to twelve million metric tons of plastic waste generated on land enters marine environments. Moreover, as of 2015, 9% of the plastic produced had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills and the environment.

Normative conformity encourages energy conservation because people are motivated to change their energy usage based on others. Raising awareness for an issue like this is important so people can lead by example. Fossil fuels exhibit a largely negative influence on our health, and this has stemmed from industrial practices. Interestingly, many believe that “fossil fuel combustion by-products are the world’s most significant threat to children’s health and future and are major contributors to global inequality and environmental injustice”. The International Energy Administration Agency projected that fossil fuels will account for approximately 79 percent of the world’s total energy supply in 2040. Furthermore, air pollution from fossil fuels stimulates cardio-pulmonary and neurologic health concerns. These risks can include lung cancer or cardiovascular disease. A growing body of evidence suggests that air pollution contributes to a range of serious neurological disorders, ranging from neurodevelopmental effects in children to neurodegenerative impacts in older generations.   

While these facts are alarming, there are a myriad of ways to embrace eco-friendly living, and it is important to understand the impact a single individual has on the world. Burning fossil fuels produces electricity; since these are nonrenewable sources, it is important to maximize efficiency. Start by using your energy wisely; unplug your computers and electronics when not in use. Turn off the lights in your room when it is not occupied. Also, try to limit hot water usage and use cold water for laundry and showers. This also includes not leaving the tap running unnecessarily. Furthermore, eat organic, local, plant-based food to help the environment. Consuming less meat will also reduce earth’s heat; meat production generates large amounts of greenhouse gas emission, consumes massive amounts of water, and causes a lot of pollution. It is also important to minimize the amount of food waste, as food waste contributes to increased carbon dioxide levels in landfills. Composting your food is a great option for expired food; this will reduce the amount of waste in the landfill and reduce methane gas buildup. Use LED lights, which are more efficient and last longer. Use a bike or carpool when you drive. These are just a few great tangible ways to begin setting the stage for others to follow. Making one small change is the start to enacting widespread change. 

Edited by Ria Parikh and Abbey Tan

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