Five simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint

In a week where carbon tax, emissions trading and sustainability have dominated the political discourse, it has become clear that the green discussion is one which will not go away. Now is the time to embrace change and seek out ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Thankfully, enough research has been done so that those brave enough to embrace the change can become carbon neutral. YOURLifeChoices shows you how to reduce your personal emissions in five easy steps.

Step One – Seek alternative transport

Cars, trucks and motorbikes are huge emitters of carbon. Everytime you sit on the freeway, idling in a slow crawl traffic jam or pop around the corner to pick up some milk when you could have walked, right there is carbon emission which could have been saved.

For short journeys either walk or cycle, and make sure to carpool when going into work. Try and convince your employer to allow you to work from home once a week.

Use public transport where possible and travel with friends when heading in the same direction.

Step Two – Turn out the lights.

It’s as easy as flicking a switch, but many people seem to neglect this relatively simple option. Whether at home, at work, in a hotel or passing through, make sure whenever you leave a room to switch off the lights or any non-essential electrical appliances.

The same goes for so many appliances people endlessly leave ‘on standby’. Just because it is not ‘turned on’ does not mean there is not power going into it. This means that even on standby your television, DVD player or microwave is emitting carbon. It may take a little longer, but switching them off at the powerpoint will not only save the environment but save your electricity bill as well.

Step Three – Make your home energy efficient

Many people are irritated at this point, as they claim they do not have the money to turn their home green. However what more people are finding is that a few dollars spent on energy efficiency will save thousands on electricity bills over the years, not to mention the environmental benefits.

Some things you can do to make your home energy efficient are:
• Insulation in walls and ceilings
• Secondary glaze windows
• Draft excluders on doors
• Underlay under carpets
• Switch to LED power
• Recycle grey water

Step Four – Reduce energy usage wherever possible

It is amazing how much just a slight change in your lifestyle can reduce your carbon footprint. These include:

• Turn down the heating slightly (just one or two degrees). Even turning down the heating one degree will save 8% off your heating bill
• Speak up if the air conditioner is too cold or heater is too hot. Dress appropriately for the weather…indoors and out. Clothes are 100% carbon neutral
(especially those bought second-hand)
• When replacing energy appliances, try to purchase those with a high energy rating. It will save money and energy in the long run for a little more initial
• Check the heating timer setting; ensure not to heat the house when you have left for work
• Turn down the water heating setting; again even two degrees will make a significant saving
• Only turn on the dishwasher when you have a full load
• Hang out the washing whenever possible – don’t automatically tumble dry
• Be creative! There are hundreds of ways you can save power around the house if you really think about it.

Step Five – Educate others

Form a green watch committee in your neighbourhood and keep an eye out. Make sure that everyone has the best interests of the planet at heart.