A guide on various lifestyle changes to reduce carbon footprint
Consider these actions: It’s warm in your home and you switch on the air-conditioner. You decide to commute by car instead of public transport. You book a long-haul flight for your next international holiday. All your actions leave a carbon footprint – some actions leave a bigger footprint than others. Carbon footprint is the volume of greenhouse gases our actions emit and is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent. Greenhouse gases are harmful to the environment and so it is important to reduce the carbon footprint in your daily activities.
You can buy energy-efficient refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, and ceiling fans to help conserve energy and make your home an eco-friendly space. Each appliance is ranked with one to five stars, with the former indicating low efficiency and the latter indicating high efficiency. By choosing devices with higher star ratings, you can reduce your carbon footprint significantly.
For instance, you can replace your ordinary tube lights and bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps, which can reduce your electricity usage by a whopping 75%. A study by Energy Star, USA, found that energy-conserving appliances helped consumers save over 230 billion kilowatt electricity hours with total savings of $23 billion in electricity costs and greenhouse gas reductions of over 170 million metric tonnes.
Most energy providers worldwide have started offering greener tariffs. For instance, in many parts of India, consumers can choose to get partial energy supply from sources such as solar panels, windmills, and hydroelectric energy. By opting for renewable energy sources, you can accomplish three goals. You can reduce your carbon emissions completely, and by extension, your carbon footprint. Furthermore, renewable energy sources lead to tremendous savings in the form of lower energy bills.
Your refrigerator is an appliance that you cannot turn off. It keeps food fresh and hence, needs to run 24x7. However, there are ways you can reduce your refrigerator’s carbon footprint. First, replace your old fridge with a newer model. The compressors used in older refrigerators consume a large amount of electricity compared to the latest technologies. Opt for the Bureau Of Energy Efficiency (BEE) rated appliances to save power consumption over the long term. The higher the rating, the lower is the consumption.
On average, a 3-star 250-litre fridge uses 52 KWh, and a 5-star one uses 33 KWh. The lower the power consumption, the lower is your carbon footprint.
Two more tips: Avoid placing your fridge in direct sunlight and allow sufficient air to circulate around the appliance.
Did you know that cleaning utensils and doing your household laundry leaves a large carbon footprint? This is due to the power required to run appliances like washing machines and the energy needed in heating water.
While using water is inevitable, you can do a few things to control its usage and reduce carbon footprints in the process. For instance, you can turn off taps and showerheads while brushing and bathing, reduce the number of days you do laundry, install shower heads that use less water, and so on.
Did you know that a 1.5-ton AC consumes over 1.8 KWh of electricity, emitting 1.62 kg of carbon? Reduce carbon emissions by reducing your AC usage. Alternatively, you can opt for an inverter AC which is more energy-efficient. Per unit consumption for an average 1.5-ton inverter AC would be in the range of 0.8 to 1.1 Kwh depending on the energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating. In this case, your CO2 emission would be around 0.72 kg to 0.99 kg.
Your food choices also affect your carbon footprint. A vegan meal is more energy-efficient than a meat-based meal. An easy way to reduce your food-based carbon footprint is to buy locally grown food. Food transported from distant locations leaves a large carbon footprint during transportation, and more so if they are perishable and require a cold chain.
Here are some ways companies and their personnel can reduce carbon footprint at work.
Instead of spending on parking spots and encouraging the use of personal vehicles, companies can provide carpooling services to their employees. By offering carpooling facilities, companies can reduce GHG emissions significantly. A research report by UC Berkeley states that carpoolers in the USA can reduce GHG emissions from personal commute by approximately 4% to 5%. The same report mentions yet another study that estimates savings of about 7.2 million tonnes of GHG emissions by adding 1 more passenger to every 100 cars. Through app-based carpooling facilities, companies can help reduce traffic traffic-related pollution and reduce 70 to 190 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions per month.
Even though we are living in a digital world, many companies still insist on physical documentation while maintaining employee records. They also print documents at-will when it is incredibly easy to maintain digital documentation. Even meetings can now easily be conducted online through video conferencing instead of travelling to client locations to reduce carbon footprint.
Besides reducing carbon emissions in your homes and offices, you also be mindful of your carbon footprint and reduce it while you are in public areas. Here are some things you can do.
One of the most common complaints about India is the traffic, especially in metros and Tier I cities. The roads are jam-packed with petrol and diesel cars, cabs, taxis and autos. These vehicles emit a lot of pollutants, leading to a low air quality index and subsequent breathing difficulties. If you wish to reduce your carbon footprint, you should consider mass public transportation facilities like buses, trains, coaches, etc., which carry several people in one trip, making them a sustainable form of travel.
A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimates that public transportation can reduce CO2 emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. By utilising the available public transportation facilities instead of driving a car, each person can save 4,800 pounds of CO2 per year. In India, many state transport corporations have started introducing energy-efficient public buses, which can further help reduce CO2 emissions.
There are several ways to offset your carbon footprint while travelling by air. You should consider reducing the number of stops on your travel route and opt for direct flights whenever possible. Some airlines also provide facilities for you to pay a little more than your ticket cost to fund projects devoted to reducing carbon emissions, including forest restoration and efficient energy resources development projects.
A simple and effective way to reduce your carbon footprint in the public space is to ensure you always carry a reusable water bottle. This tip is especially useful while utilising public transportation services like trains and flights. You can refill your bottles at train stations, airports and public parks, and simultaneously cut down on the use of single-use plastic bottles, thereby reducing carbon footprint.
Composting is yet another excellent means to reduce carbon footprint in the outdoor space. It is also ideal for the environment. In our country, where food waste is such a huge issue, setting up a composting pit in your society can aid in reducing landfill methane emissions. Furthermore, composting is typically free, does not use any energy for production and is good for the green cover in your locality.
If you wish to find out how green you are, you can now do so with help of the digibank carbon footprint calculator. An online simulation, this calculator comprises various sections – home, travel, public and private transportation, etc. Once you feed in the data, it computes your carbon footprint. Using the calculator, you can assess your daily habits and determine what more you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.
Now that you know how to reduce carbon footprint, you can implement the tips in your everyday life. Besides these methods mentioned above, a unique way to reduce carbon footprint is to sign up for an online digital account with digibank by DBS. At digibank, we believe in doing what it takes to reduce our carbon footprint in the services we offer – from online transactions to a variety of services. You can access the account 24x7 on your mobile phone or computer browser or even download the digibank app.
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*Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only. We recommend you get in touch with your income tax advisor or CA for expert advice.