Our environment is ambushed by a constant threat of increase in the emission of greenhouse gases, particularly the CO2. We may not realize but all of us are contributing to the increasing CO2 emissions. Appliances like microwave oven, electric kettle, gas oven, washing machine, dish washer, fridge-freezer, and light bulbs emit CO2 gas on large-scale. To reduce this we need to follow practices that will reduce these carbon dioxide emissions. Let's look at them one by one.
Carbon footprints generated by us can be categorized into two parts, 'primary footprint' and 'secondary footprint'.
1. Primary Footprint
Primary footprints can be defined as "emissions of CO2 directly generated from burning of fossil fuels, which includes emission of CO2 from domestic consumption as well as transportation". These carbon footprints can be directly controlled and monitored by us.
- Fuel Used at Home: 33%
- Electricity Used at Home: 26%
- Pvt. Transport: 22%
- Pub. Transport: 7%
- Holiday Flights:13%
The data above depicts our contribution to CO2 emissions from common sources like, coal, oil, gas, electricity, transportation and leisure travel.
2. Secondary Footprint
Secondary footprints are indirect emissions of CO2 from the lifestyle products we use. This means that everything we buy emits some amount of CO2 in the environment.
- Pub. Services: 22%
- Financial Services: 6%
- Recreation: 26%
- Furnishings: 17%
- Car Manufacture: 13%
- Clothes: 7%
- Food & Drinks: 9%
The above data depicts CO2 emissions from indirect sources like bottled water, meat, recreational activities like go-karting, and various services. Indirect emissions can be reduced by decreasing the demand of such goods, and instead using alternatives.
Reducing Primary Carbon Footprint
We have the power to reduce the Primary footprints, easily. Let's see what all can be done.
Switch off Electrical Devices When Not in Use
Devices like lights, fans, TV, heaters, PCs, etc., should be switched off when not in use. Also, we should not keep our devices like DVD player and music system on standby, because even that consumes a lot of power. Always switch off the appliances by pressing down the power button.
Reduce the Use of Electrical Appliances
The use of the electrical appliances should at least be reduced, as one cannot completely curtail its use. While cleaning utensils and dishes in a dishwasher, or washing clothes in a washing machine, try loading them fully. This will reduce the electricity and water consumed in it. While using a kettle, care should be taken to fill the kettle only with the amount of water actually required. Also, instead of using a dryer for drying clothes, use the option of drying them in sun. It is a good practice to reduce the temperature of the water heater and the central heater by 1 or 2 degrees. Even such a minuscule reduction in the temperature can save about 8% of the electricity used by us.
Install Energy Saving Devices
Installing devices like energy-saving light bulbs, thermostatic valves on your radiators, and solar heaters can save up a lot of power. Besides, you can also insulate your hot water tank, walls and loft. Installing new devices altogether may seem difficult. So, what you can do is, replace the worn out appliances with the energy-saving devices. It not only reduces the carbon footprint but also saves up your bill.
Save Fuel While Traveling
A lot of CO2 emission is released from the vehicles we use for commuting. We cannot stop using them, but at least we can use them efficiently. Let's see how.
- Don't use your vehicle for short distances; instead choose to walk or go by cycling.
- Use the public transport for daily purpose, instead of driving down daily.
- Share your car with colleagues and others who are going the same way.
Replacement and Maintenance
It is important to replace all sort of worn out electrical devices. Be it your car, refrigerator, AC, etc. This is because all worn out gadgets consume more power. Their replacement will not only save power but will also reduce your running costs. If your apartment is old, check the state of the concealed wires. If the wires have worn out it will pull about 30% more power. Lately, if you have been wondering about the whooping high electricity bills, realize it's time to check the concealed wires. This way you will end up reducing your carbon footprint and also save money.
Reducing Secondary Carbon Footprint
It is easier to control and reduce the primary carbon footprint than secondary carbon footprint. However, reducing the secondary footprint is a matter of efforts you take, and realizing how are we contributing to the CO2 emissions while purchasing goods.
"We are not to throw away those things which can benefit our neighbor. Goods are called good because they can be used for good: they are instruments for good, in the hands of those who use them properly." -- Clement of Alexandria
Today, recycling has become a responsibility of all the world citizens. We must recycle everything possible and as much as we can. Recycling can reproduce goods with creating less pollution, consuming less energy and time. We can recycle paper, plastic, metal cans, cell phones, fridges, computers, AC, batteries, various containers and different packing material (almost everything). We only need to take an effort to do so.
A Few Facts
- 315 kg of CO2 is saved per ton of glass recycled after taking into account the transportation and processing.
- Making Aluminum cans from old ones uses 1/12th of the energy to make them from raw materials.
- Each recycled beer can, can save enough electricity to run a television for three hours.
Conventional farming practices which use a lot of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, emit a lot of carbon dioxide. Therefore, we must promote organic farming by only buying produce that is organic. Organic farming sustains the fertility of the soil, maintains the ecological system; it basically envisages a good quality of life. We might be able to survive without industrialization but we cannot survive without agriculture. It is a source of our survival.
Curtail the Use of Bottled Water
Bottled water largely contributes to the environment footprint. As per thePacific Institute in 2006, 31.2 billion liters of water was bought by the American Consumers and it required more than 17 million barrels of oil (without the energy consumed in transportation) to produce them. In turn, it produced 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. Therefore, to reduce the CO2 emission, we need to reduce the usage of bottled water. Instead you could consume filtered water which is equally purified.
"1/4 liter oil + 1 liter water + 1 liter water + 1 liter water = 1 liter Bottled drinking water." You think it's really worth it?
Saving our environment is not the duty of an individual or an organization, but a responsibility of each of us living on our planet earth. To reduce carbon footprints, you not only have to save energy from home or work but everywhere you go. Going green is not just a habit, but a lifestyle. We can calculate our carbon footprint and take measure to reduce it.
Like John Sawhill said, "A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy."