For many people, the sheer size of their overall carbon footprint isn’t something that generally tends to cross their minds on a daily basis. In our single-use, planned obsolescence society, it’s far too easy to want to take the more wasteful route in favor of the little extra added convenience it gives us. However, with the average American’s consumption of fossil fuels currently hovering at around 79 percent, it’s more important than ever before to find ways to reduce our dependence upon these non-renewable resources and switch to greener ones.
Fortunately, making the change to a more sustainable alternative doesn’t necessarily need to be something that requires a dramatic lifestyle change or a major overhaul of your existing habits. Even smaller changes can start to add up, leading to much bigger results in the long run. If you’ve been thinking about going greener – but you’re not quite sure where to begin – don’t let that hold you back. To help make it easier for you, here are three surprisingly simple and actionable ways you can start reducing your excessive usage of these unsustainable fuel sources today.
Say Goodbye to Plastics
It’s amazing how plastic has become so commonplace these days. Even though it’s only been around for just a hair over a century, it still sneaks its way into nearly every facet of our lives. Plastic is in almost everything we use. From our food packaging to our dinnerware, and even to the bags that we use to haul our groceries home. While phasing out plastic altogether can definitely be difficult, and it won’t happen overnight, you can still find plastic-free alternatives out there. You just need to know where to look.
For instance, there’s really no need to use disposable plastic (or even paper!) bags at the grocery store. Instead, plan ahead and bring your own reusable totes with you when you go shopping. You’ll want to look for ones that are made of renewable materials, though, such as cotton or hemp. You should also take a hard look at other sources of plastic in your life, such as water bottles and drinking straws. Swapping them out for stainless steel is much more environmentally sound. Even buying your groceries in bulk can help remove an incredible 163 million tons of food packaging waste from landfills.
Skip the Joyride
It’s no secret that your automobile is arguably one of the biggest culprits when it comes to fossil fuels. As it stands, transportation accounts for greater than 70 percent of all of the oil consumption in the country. In addition, more than 65 percent of that is caused by personal vehicles. It’s not reasonable to expect you to ditch your car outright. However, there are still other ways you can get from Point A to Point B. More pleasant and beneficial options are taking a walk or riding your bike.
It’s a fantastic way to get a little bit of cardiovascular exercise while saving you a bit of money in the long run. With fuel prices steadily creeping upward, just a short jaunt across town is going to seriously ding you at the pump. If your destination is fairly close, why not choose to walk or ride your bike? This can be a great family activity, too, allowing you to connect with your loved ones while running errands. If you have to go more than just a mile or two, or the weather is inclement, taking public transit may be your next best option.
Rethink Your Home
Your home is likely a massive fuel glutton, even if you don’t think you’re being overly wasteful. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household used a staggering 893 kilowatt-hours per month, to the tune of nearly 11,000 kWh annually. To put that into perspective, it takes nearly 1.13 pounds of coal, 0.08 gallons of petroleum liquids (such as gasoline and oil), and 7.43 cubic feet of natural gas to produce just one kWh of electricity. Over the span of a year, it’s no small sum being used just to power your home.
Because of this, finding new ways to capture energy is critical. Solar energy is growing in popularity. However, wind energy is quickly proving to be the more affordable and sustainable option in the long run. Of course, remodeling your home to make it greener can be an investment. It’s going to take time to transform it into a more environmentally conscious residence. In the meantime, there are basic things you can do to reduce your usage of fossil fuels. Like turning off the lights when you’re not in a room, unplugging devices that aren’t in use, and even switching to Energy Star-approved appliances can still make a considerable impact.
As a society, it’s our collective duty to do what we can to help preserve the planet. That means reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Despite the incredible strides made in recent years, there is still more that needs to be done. At our current rate of consumption, it’s only a matter of time before we drain Mother Earth. Not only the fuels she offers to us, but also of a habitable place to live, too. But by making these changes today, we can continue to enjoy the blue marble we call our home. Not only tomorrow – but also in the many years ahead of us, as well.