Spring is here! Flowers, sunshine, melting snow and green grass have arrived (or are on their way depending on where you live). It's the perfect time to embrace this beautiful planet. To do your part to protect nature and embrace this season of rebirth, here are 5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint this spring.
Ride your bike
If you drive a lot, or rely heavily on public transportation, riding your bike is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. It's also a great, low impact exercise so it's really a win-win. If you're a driver, switching to cycling just once a day can cut your emissions by 67%. Cycling isn't doable year round in many Canadian cities, but it's quite plausible in the spring, summer and fall seasons. It may not be feasible for you to commute to work by bike, but you can definitely rely on your bike for errands in your neighbourhood and beyond.
Change your diet
What we eat can make a tremendous impact on the environment and our carbon footprint. If you eat a standard North American diet, a few key changes can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health. Start by shifting towards a plant based diet. That means consuming mostly food from plants. The University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent. Not sure how to go about it? When you build a plate or plan a meal, put your emphasis on vegetables, whole grains and starches. When it comes to protein, prioritize plant based sources such as legumes, nuts and seeds. If you intend to continue to eat meat, try to eat less of it less often. Your health will thank you as eating this way can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and even help you lose weight.
Shopping from local producers in your area can make a positive impact on your carbon footprint and your community. This includes everything from food to clothing and even furniture. The reason buying local makes a difference is there is less long haul transportation involved, meaning less pollution. That apple produced by a local farmer didn't have to travel halfway around the world to get to you -- unlike that pineapple from the supermarket. It might just taste better too as it's way more fresh and in season. You don't have to shop exclusively at your local farmers market to shop locally. Many major grocery stores now support local producers and dedicate sections of their stores to local produce and products. Ask a staff member at your local supermarket if they can point you in the right direction. When it comes to things like locally made clothing and furniture, you'll need to do a little digging. A simple Google search of "shop local [your city name]" can show you a ton of helpful resources and businesses in your area that sell locally produced products. When it comes to dining out, look for farm-to-table restaurants.
Buy second hand
Another way to support the planet with your purchases is to buy second hand -- especially when it comes to things like clothing and furniture. Producing just about anything from scratch has an environmental toll, so buying preloved items instead of new can help reduce your carbon footprint and prevent those items from winding up in a landfill. The global fashion industry emits about 1.7 billion tons of CO2 each year! According to the American Apparel Association, if you buy second hand clothing you can personally prevent more than 500 pounds of carbon emissions every year, reducing your carbon footprint by more than 80%. So, the next time you go shopping, consider paying a visit to some local thrift stores and vintage boutiques before you head to the mall.
Reduce your plastic consumption
Plastic can take hundreds of years to break down and is rapidly filling the world's landfills and polluting our waterways. It’s estimated that more than 10 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. It's even harming wildlife! And you might be surprised to learn that micro plastic particles wind up in your food. Over 380 million tons of plastic is produced every year, and up to 50% of that is for single-use. We can all do our part to use less of it in our daily lives. A great place to start is to stop buying and using single-use plastic items like plastic water bottles and straws. Instead, opt for reusable water bottles and straws made out of metal or glass. If you use plastic wrap at home, switch to beeswax food wraps. If you use plastic food storage bags, try switching to reusable silicone bags.
We hope these tips inspire you to reduce your carbon footprint this spring!