Five Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Five Ways To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Sponsored Post – from Fourth&

This post was written by Priyunka Maheshwari, Marketing Coordinator at Capsa Ventures, the developer of a new sustainability-focused condo building that is currently under construction in east Austin. 

Picture this – you have a friend from abroad coming to visit you. They know nothing about Austin, other than the fact that it’s in Texas. Two weeks before they’re scheduled to depart, you’re prepping them on the culture of Austin. And then they ask you an odd question…

“Is Austin eco-friendly?”

“Of course it is!” you exclaim. You can barely believe what you’re hearing. Austin, not eco-friendly? The five-section waste bins at Whole Foods (you know, the ones that to this day make you wonder what belongs in compost) and car2go ads flash through your mind. Before you know it, you’ve launched into a spiel about how Austin has hundreds of LEED-certified buildings, miles of bike lanes, a farmer’s market for every day of the week, and even dedicated electric car charging spots.

You wouldn’t be the only person to do this. In fact, Architectural Digest noted these exact features as reasons why Austin was named the number one environmentally friendly city in America in 2017. That’s right, we’ve topped a list that isn’t about the fastest-growing cities. Time to celebrate, right?

Not quite yet.

While it’s true that the city has refined its infrastructure to become a model for cleaner cities, Austin’s carbon footprint extends beyond public spaces. The average person living in Travis County emits about 15 tons of CO2 annually. Your friend visiting from London? Your buddy crashing with you from Seoul? They emit a lot less.

Clearly, we Austinites need to reduce our personal carbon footprints if we want to make the global list of greenest cities in a couple of years. Want to help? Here are five ways to reduce your own emissions:

 

1.Monitor your electronics

Hate opening up your electric bill? Make it a little less painful by unplugging your appliances. Even when off, these devices could be responsible for about one-fourth of your total energy usage. Idle power mode is responsible for about $19 billion annually in electricity bills in the U.S.

Take your MacBook, for example. When it’s charging, it uses 48 watts. When it’s fully charged but you keep it plugged in? 27 watts. The same principle applies for your cable box, television, DVD player, and game console. The solution? Unplug when not in use.

2.Consider downsizing to a smaller home

That four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Lakeway sure is beautiful. It is. But if some of those bedrooms are vacant, it’s also a huge energy drain. Most greenhouse gas emissions from homes stem from generating electricity and heat. Smaller homes are often cheaper than those with a larger square footage, and they’ll save you money on your utilities. Most families only use about 40 percent of available living space anyway (check out this heat map by The Minimalists), so a smaller space doesn’t translate to a cramped box. If you don’t have a family, you’re already working in a dense area of the city, or you hate the upkeep of a large home, consider investing in a smaller property.

Minimalist Heat Map

photo via The Minimalists

3.Walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit

It’s hot in Austin, I know. Walking seems like a form of cruel and unusual punishment. But it’s also a great form of exercise and allows you to notice hidden gems you might have missed while driving (especially at night, when the sweat isn’t running into your eyes). Going somewhere further that has a nightmarish parking situation? Take advantage of the all the bike lanes in Austin. Meeting a group of friends? Pick them up on the way and share your emissions across a car full of people.

If you don’t feel comfortable biking all across the city, hop on one of the city’s buses. Austin isn’t famed for its public transit, but improvements have been made in recent years. I recently took the rail line from Lakeline Station (near Cedar Park) to the Austin Convention Center and it took a measly 40 minutes (the same trip driving with no traffic takes 30 minutes). The buses are going to run anyway, so you might as well fill them up!

MetroRail

via Creative Commons

4.Use energy-efficient lighting

Most new homes and apartments are already designed to include Energy Star LED bulbs. But if you’ve had your place for a while, go ahead and check to see what kind of bulbs you use. Not only do LEDs cut down your power usage by up to 80 percent compared to incandescent bulbs, but they last longer and contain no toxic chemicals.

5.Eat locally-produced food

Not only do you get to feel good about supporting your fellow neighbors, but eating locally-grown food can significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and many of these miles are the result of getting food across the country. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that most domestically grown produce travels 1,500 miles before being sold. If your eggs come straight from a farm in Georgetown, they have to travel a lot less than those coming from Mississippi, cutting fuel emissions. Plus, you have a higher chance of receiving fresh and nutritious fare.

Looking for more ways to reduce your carbon footprint? Check out these 14 suggestions from National Geographic, or visit the City of Austin’s climate portal.

 


Please note – editorials and sponsored posts are written by guest writers to inform and educate the community on a variety of different viewpoints, as well as to share information about local eco-friendly businesses and organizations. However, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Austin EcoNetwork. Sponsored posts are paid for by advertisers.

 

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