What Can I Do?

What can I do to reduce my carbon footprint? There has been much talk and public debate about taxes, trading schemes, emission cuts and jobs lost or gained. Putting all that aside, what role can each individual play in reducing one’s carbon footprint?

Here are some surprising facts provided by the Government of Queensland: Apparently your microwave uses more energy to power its little digital clock 24/7 than to actually heat food—so switch it off at the wall. If that’s too hard, use a remote switch in a convenient location that controls all powerpoints in your kitchen. Most of us happily operate a TV by remote, so why not our wall sockets too?

When choosing between driving your car and public transport bear in mind that an average car produces 330 g CO2/km. With a hybrid you can get that down to 140g, catching a bus reduces it to 8g per person, a train weighs in at 3g per person, and walking or riding your bicycle produces exactly zero CO2. Now, driving is often inevitable and no one is suggesting you need to walk everywhere—but just bear those numbers in mind in situations where you do have a choice.

When you buy stuff, remember that pretty much anything you buy requires energy for production and transportation. And until we have converted to a low-carbon economy, most energy is generated by emitting CO2. Be mindful of each purchase. Do you really need it? (Think ‘declutter’ as well as climate change here.) Could you find the same item of better quality so it lasts longer? If you choose between two products, the one with less packaging probably has a lower carbon footprint. (Using your own mug rather than paper cups for coffee will save a lot of packaging.) Buy local to reduce transport.

Here is one with a bit of entertainment value: reduce your consumption of dairy and meat products. Why? Well, it’s good for your cholesterol … and cow’s flatulence is a source of greenhouse gas emissions. To paraphrase Monty Python, every little fart and burp is sacred in the battle to save the planet.

Consider moving your investments, including superannuation, to funds that invest sustainably. Use your latent financial power to direct businesses to more responsible practices.

Engage the media and politicians. Make them aware of your priorities. Write letters and emails. Ring talkback shows. Make sure action on climate change is viewed as an imperative by those who are responsible for the public discussion and the action.

So, to sum up, what can you do right now? Whatcanidorightnow.com.au has the answers.

If worrying about all of this is too hard, here is one simple thing that you can do to help the planet while saving money without any loss to your quality of life: Do not buy bottled water—instead, refill your filter bottle out of the tap.

And if you want to be terribly serious and try something totally innovative, have a look at The Cube.

Finally, here are some NGO’s in Australia that accept donations to help their efforts to decarbonize our economies and to reduce our carbon footprint:

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