Sustainable choices create a better future for everyone.
As climate change continues to be a hot topic of discussion, it’s important to consider how our actions contribute to the emission of greenhouse gasses. In the United States, we have fallen into patterns of choosing what is easier instead of what is sustainable. The average American outputs 27 tons of carbon dioxide every year and that number is only continuing to grow.
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses, which are made up of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and trace gases, that are produced by our various actions and decisions. In going about our daily lives, we often fail to consider the larger impact that our seemingly minor decisions have. Transportation, housing, food, goods, and services all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Yes, this includes everything from the gas that fuels our cars to the food we eat and the clothes we wear.
Every product we consume goes through a life cycle. It starts out as raw materials and must be manufactured and transported, then it’s used or stored away, and finally, it gets disposed of. Every step along the product lifecycle contributes to our ever-growing carbon footprint. We are not conditioned to think about all of the in-between steps that go into the creation of goods, services, foods, etc. As a society, we rarely take sustainability into consideration when making decisions about the things we buy or the goods we use.
The largest source of carbon emissions is the burning of fossil fuels. This includes coal, natural gas, oil, kerosene, and propane. Fossil fuels are a non-renewable energy source meaning once they’re gone, they’re gone. So, not only should we work to reduce fossil fuel emissions in order to better the environment, but we should also consider the time we have left with these resources. Unless we make some serious changes, it is expected that we will be out of these resources by 2052.
Although some categories of fossil fuel emissions have a bigger impact on the environment than others, creating lasting change starts with making small lifestyle changes. Since not everyone can afford an electric car or sustain a vegan diet, it’s important to look at the smaller decisions and how one simple choice can make a big difference. Continuously making a conscious effort to choose more sustainable options is a huge step towards reducing our carbon footprint.
In addition to the much-reported impact of fossil fuels in vehicles and food production, our daily lives are repeatedly touched by the use of paper products. In 2018, paper and paperboard (cardboard) materials comprised the largest component of municipal solid waste (MSW) which accounts for 23% of what is dumped into landfills. With this, businesses have multiple different opportunities to reduce their spending on superfluous print materials. Associated with the use of paper there are file folders, cabinets, printers, and most importantly, ink that can also be reduced. Another cost directly reflected in the use of paper was documented in an 8-year study that showed hospitals suffered more paper-based breaches than cyberattacks because files were constantly left out in the open and improperly disposed of. Additionally, the lost time and productivity of searching for documents, brochures, and print-outs show the greatest monetary loss to companies.
Knowing where your greenhouse gas emissions come from is the first step in the right direction of reducing your carbon footprint. There is a multitude of resources including carbonfootprint.com and the EPA carbon footprint calculator that calculate your carbon emissions based on your lifestyle and provide you with resources on how to reduce that number. Knowing where you are contributing to the overall carbon footprint will help to gauge where in your life you should look into making changes.
Here are 9 easy lifestyle adaptations everyone can make to reduce our carbon footprint:
- Choosing to buy local produce. Since fossil fuels are the leading producer of greenhouse gasses, choosing local produce reduces the amount of shipping and transporting necessary to get your food from farm to table.
- Bring your own reusable bags and opt for foods with less packaging. These are simple things that everyone can do, it just requires a little planning and preparation. Plastic produces a huge carbon footprint because it takes a lot of energy to produce. Avoiding plastic as much as possible is a proactive way to reduce carbon emissions.
- Avoid buying fast fashion. The lifecycle of clothes that are trendy is extremely short-lived. Instead, opt for higher-quality clothing items that will last longer and withstand the ebb and flow of trends. Most lower-quality products come from overseas countries like China and Bangladesh so there is a significant amount of fossil fuels required to transport the items into the US. By making this switch, we can significantly reduce the number of clothes that end up in landfills and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions that result from international shipping.
- Turn your water heater down and install a low-flow showerhead. These two changes can reduce your carbon emissions by almost 900 pounds every year. It’s a small price to pay for a major improvement to the environment. Even at 120 degrees, you’ll still be getting a hot shower, but the carbon emissions will be significantly reduced.
- Switch to LED lightbulbs and remember to turn them off when not in use. Initially, an LED light bulb may cost more, but LED bulbs have a much longer lifespan and produce less heat. It’s a win-win situation because your bulbs will last longer and they are less damaging to the environment.
- Be conscious of the way you drive your car. Avoid quick acceleration and unnecessary braking. Find shorter routes and avoid traffic jams. Use cruise control on longer trips. Roll the windows down instead of turning on the air conditioning. All of these are simple things that we often don’t realize can have an impact on the environment.
- Drive less, walk more. Or carpool if you have to. The number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is fossil fuel use. Every opportunity we take to cut back on fossil fuel emissions is a step in the right direction. Plus, walking is a great way to get in a little extra exercise.
- Avoid connecting flights. Takeoffs and landings use the most fuel, so cutting back on the number can significantly reduce emissions. Even before buying the ticket, consider driving if the distance is short.
- Choose paperless wherever possible. Opting for email receipts, eBills, and online documents helps to cut back on the printing, shipping, and production costs associated with the paper product industry. Plus, the more trees still standing, the more carbon dioxide that is removed from the air.
If everyone in the United States made just a few small lifestyle changes, the environmental impact would be extremely momentous. Creating habits does not happen overnight. It takes time to fall into patterns, so the most important thing is to get started. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the feeling of having to make drastic changes in order to see a difference. The best results come from small and consistent changes.
At Command.App we strive to provide a tool that promotes sustainability. From reducing the printing and shipping costs of using paper to the minimization of travel required to make a presentation. By implementing a digital platform to house marketing materials, you’re left with freedom and peace of mind that you are actively working towards a better world.
There is an abundance of opportunities in the world of digital selling. This cutting-edge approach of taking sales interactions and moving them virtual has a multitude of environmental benefits. Not only can you reach a broader audience of clients, but the time and resources it takes to meet with those clients are significantly cut back. With virtual sales, you no longer have to spend time in the car or on a plane traveling to your client which reduces fossil fuel emissions and saves you time for more important tasks. Additionally, presentation materials are more readily available because you can access them digitally instead of sifting through stacks of papers.
Remember when the world shut down and everyone was forced to work from home? Yes, I’m talking about COVID-19. Beginning in March 2020, we saw significant dips in worldwide carbon emissions. Here in the United States, we reached a 13% decrease in carbon emissions due to the reduction of transportation and a difference in how we use our resources. Everyone was virtual and mother nature reaped the benefits. Worldwide, we saw a 6.4% reduction in carbon emissions which may not sound like a lot, but that is equivalent to 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide.
Without implementing these changes into our post-pandemic life, this carbon reduction will not last long. As the world returns to normal, we are beginning to see those numbers rise back to the levels they were at before March 2020. We know taking action can make a difference because we’ve seen it work before. Moving forward, it will be important to reflect on the decisions made during the pandemic in order to implement those changes into a post-pandemic world.
So what can you do right now to help reduce your carbon footprint?
- Begin by implementing small changes into your everyday life. Evaluate what you know you can do right now and start to make those changes. The transformation doesn’t start until you take that first leap.
- Know what you are capable of doing in the future. Take some time to research what better practices you can implement later on and set a timeline for yourself. By establishing realistic goals and putting a deadline on them, you are more likely to achieve them.
- Tell the world about what you’re doing. The more people that know about the difference these small changes can make, the more inclined they will be to implement them into their own lives.
The concept of environmental sustainability is not one to be taken lightly. The fate of our planet is dependent on the decisions we make today. Choosing to make environmentally conscious decisions in our lives is the key to a better future.
If you’re ready to take the next step towards a better tomorrow, click here to learn more about going digital with Command.App.