7 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint This Summer

Between the beautiful sunny weather and the calm of vacation, summer is the ideal time to start working on personal goals. If one of those goals is leading a more sustainable lifestyle, these tips can help you get started.

1. Go Paperless

According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American uses more than 700 pounds of paper each year — and although production has become more efficient over time, the pulp and paper sector still emitted a whopping 31.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2022.

Here are some simple ways you can reduce your paper consumption this summer:

  • Print smarter: Only print something when you absolutely need to. And when you do need to print something, make sure to use the double-sided feature to cut down on the number of sheets you use.
  • Take paperless notes: If you take notes during meetings, lectures or any other similar places, try swapping your pen and paper for digital note taking tools like Evernote, Microsoft OneNote or a good old-fashioned Google Doc.
  • Use the library: Check books out of the library instead of buying new copies. And if a physical copy of the book isn’t available, you might be ab2le to check out a digital copy using e-reading apps like Libby, Overdrive and Hoopla.

2. Eat Less Meat

Did you know livestock production makes up about 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions? Opting to skip meat dishes in favor of plant-based alternatives can help you reduce the amount of emissions you contribute by

We’re not saying you should become a vegan overnight, of course. But just one to two meatless days a week can make a big difference for the environment.

Summer is the perfect time to try cutting back on meat. Light, summery foods like salads and smoothies can easily be made vegan or vegetarian, and you’ll get more fruits and veggies in.

It’s also healthier for your body — cutting back on red meat, for example, can reduce your risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

3. Turn Off the Lights

We’ve all forgotten to turn the lights off after leaving a room, but leaving them on uses up extra energy — and even if your home is electric, any energy use is still producing emissions.

Energy-efficient bulbs like LEDs and CFLs use less energy than incandescent and halogen bulbs, but it’s a good habit to get into regardless of the specific lightbulbs you’re using. You’ll be saving the planet and your wallet.

As a general rule of thumb, always remember to turn off the lights:

  • When the natural light is bright enough.
  • When you’re leaving a room.
  • When you plan to come back, but you’ll be out for a while.

4. Make Your Own Personal Care Products

The beauty industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, with cosmetics packaging producing approximately 120 billion tons of solid waste annually. Most of that waste goes to landfills, though a small portion does get recycled.

While you could invest in refillable products, where you purchase individual refills as needed for the same container, this cycle still produces packaging waste in the plastic and glass used to hold the product. Instead, why not make your own products and place them in containers you already own?

You can use many natural ingredients to create eco-friendly versions of your favorite personal care products, like shampoo, moisturizer or even homemade toothpaste.

5. Clean Greener

You might not expect it, but the products we use in our homes and businesses play a big role in carbon emissions. Most household cleaning products contain harsh chemicals.

What’s more, these products leave behind plastic waste that can’t be recycled — which means  they leach toxins into the environment after ending up in a landfill. And all that wasted plastic came from a process that contributes to 3.4% of the world’s GHG emissions.

What’s more, traditional cleaning products might also pose a health risk to you and your family. Traditional cleaners have been known to trigger asthma attacks in children, as well as other health problems. While not all green products are alike or without their dangers, many brands align health and environmental safety as a top priority.

Using eco-friendly products to clean your home is a great start — just be sure to do your research first! Different chemicals tend to produce different results based on the materials you use in your home.

6. Get Moving

We all know it’s important to move around, but did you know physical activity can also be eco-friendly? In addition to its long list of health benefits, certain types of exercise can also help you shrink your carbon footprint.

Here are some easy ways you can cut back on your energy use and get the heart pumping:

  • Use the stairs: While elevator use makes up anywhere from 2% to 10% of a building’s total energy usage, taking the stairs only uses your legs.
  • Walk: If you live close enough, try walking to and from work, school, the gym or any other place you visit often.
  • Ride your bike: Too far to walk but too close to drive? Biking is a great alternative! Cycling is a fun, low-impact activity that can also help you get around a little easier.

7. Unplug Electronics When Not In Use

Electronic devices continue to use power as long as they’re plugged in — even after you turn them off! This is called phantom power use, and it’s a sneaky cause of excess energy consumption.

Using a smart power strip or unplugging everything manually as soon as you’re done with it are some of the easiest ways to prevent phantom power drainage.

You Can Make a Difference This Summer

Even the smallest steps you take add up. So whether you’re giving up meat for the summer or you just plan to walk a little more often, you can make a big difference in your carbon footprint.

All you need to get started is a solid plan and a positive attitude.

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