How can I Reduce my Family's Carbon Footprint?
2021 is well underway and by now, most of us have come to recognize the rapid changes in our environment. While we all may have different opinions on matters relating to the environment, we can mutually agree that it is important to be conscious of our carbon footprint, especially if our families are actively growing and have little ones on the way!
What is a carbon footprint? According to The Nature Conservancy, a carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. Believe it or not, several of the actions we take every day generate two of the most common greenhouse gases in the world—carbon dioxide and methane.
Lowering your or your family’s carbon footprint doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s best to start by understanding what your current carbon footprint is and then take baby steps to lower it from there. The US Environmental Protection Agency has a Carbon Footprint Calculator that is easy to use in order to determine where your family currently stands. Try it below!
Now that you have determined your family’s carbon footprint, it’s important to communicate your environmental concerns with your children and/or partner. Helping the environment is a team effort and should be treated as such. Be sure to set aside time to dive into the importance of habits and attitudes that can better protect our planet. Take advantage of the resources below to explain these concepts with your little ones in an engaging way!
- How To Talk To Kids About Climate Change - NPR
- Meet the Greenhouse Gases - NASA Game
- The Climate Time Machine - NASA Game
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (Learn about recycling) - PBS Kids
Once the importance of climate change and our individual carbon footprints have been established in the household, your family can take these simple yet effective steps to reduce your carbon footprint!
1. Reduce your and your family's meat intake
According to the Center for Sustainable Systems of the University of Michigan, food makes up about 10-30% of our household’s carbon footprint. Meat particularly makes up the largest subset of carbon emissions in this 10-30% total. Meat products cause larger carbon footprints per calorie in comparison to vegetable, fruit, and grain products. In fact, the raising, maintaining, and transportation of animals that provide meat produced approximately 178 million tons of methane in the US alone in 2018!
While it is hard to completely change your and your family’s diet overnight, we suggest taking baby steps! Focus on cutting down your consumption of meat to only 5 days a week. As time moves on, continue to challenge yourselves by cutting that number down even more—perhaps 4 days a week. Any amount of change and effort will add up in the end.
Pro Tip: Start each week with “Meatless Mondays!” :)
2. Hang dry your family's clothes
Did you know that ditching you dryer and choosing to hang dry your clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400lbs per year?! According to the GreenAmerica.org, hang drying your family’s clothes will teach you to depend less on carbon dioxide-producing machines and help the environment. Read more about the positive effects when changing your cleaning methods in this article written by the Guardian.
Pro Tip: Start first by hang-drying your gentles and baby clothes/onesies. Slowly progress to hanging more pieces of clothing to eventually even towels and sheets!!
3. Wash your family's clothes in cold water
Speaking of laundry… Try limiting the use of hot water and switch to cold. Washing machines use up a lot of energy—90% going towards heating up water. You can eliminate approximately 1,600lbs of carbon dioxide emissions per year by stopping or limiting your use of hot water, according to The Cleaning Institute Organization.
4. Bike and walk!
Now this one is simple. Use your car less! As much as we all love efficiency, it’s important to consider the harmful toll it takes on the earth when we drive place to place. Considering most modern transportation relies heavily on petroleum, half of the carbon dioxide emissions stem from the US transportation sector. While a 2-mile car trip doesn’t seem so bad, it adds up! We suggest switching to a walk, nice bike ride, or even carpooling (while being COVID conscious) whenever possible. We do not suggest ditching your car entirely… but a few transportation changes will definitely help you and your family reduce your carbon footprint.
Pro Tip: Start a school carpool system for the kids and a carpool system with your partner to and from work. Can you bike or walk to the nearest coffee shop instead of drive? It’s good for the planet and for your body!
5. Join a community garden or start your own small garden at home
One of our favorite things ever is shopping and eating LOCAL! As said before, half of the carbon dioxide emissions stem from the US transportation sector. A huge chunk of that transportation sector is dedicated to moving food to our store shelves. Instead of relying on heavily transported produce, you can grow your own food or invest in local farmer’s markets! It will likely be an adjustment at first – anything new is – but it will quickly grow into your new routine.
Many towns and cities have also established community gardens. It wouldn’t hurt to check one out in your own neighborhood. If that isn’t the case for you, then simply planting a few herbs and favorite veggies outside your home (or inside!) can drastically improve your carbon footprint.
Pro Tip: Check out our blog post for clear steps on how to start your own simple and fun herb garden!
6. Repurpose whenever possible!
Think about it, everything we use will eventually be thrown away. The disposal of our material possessions requires a robust transportation system to make it happen. Unfortunately, this opens an opportunity for more greenhouse gases to invade our atmosphere. To help solve this devastating problem, we suggest extending the life of as many of your possessions as possible. Reuse, reuse, reuse! For example, start saving baby food containers and jars of all sizes and find new ways to re-purpose them! The less waste our homes produce, the more we’ll see our carbon footprint improve.
At Pura, we believe in smart and conscious buying. Our One Life… One Bottle™ system allows new parents to simply change the silicone top of their little one’s 5oz, 9oz, or 11oz bottle when he/she is ready for the next stage lid. Infant bottles are repurposed into sippy bottles, straw bottles, and sport bottles as kids mature. Instead of trashing handfuls of plastic bottles into the environment, choose Pura and repurpose your bottle for years to come; saving you money while also lowering your carbon footprint!