Carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions have built up in the atmosphere, leading to global warming, and we’re starting to see the effects. Instances of unusual weather patterns, natural disasters, and even the extinction of numerous species worldwide have become more prevalent. This has people wondering how to become carbon neutral.
As people grow increasingly aware of humans’ environmental impact, the conversation surrounding climate change has become louder. We’re seeing more people take action to reduce their carbon footprints, and Power Wizard is here to help. We make it easy to find great energy plans that allow you to reduce your environmental impact and save money.
Part of fighting climate change involves cutting your carbon emissions. While you won’t be able to stop producing them altogether, you can drastically reduce them and become carbon neutral.
What it really means to be carbon neutral
The growing movement to stop global warming has come with many new (and often unfamiliar) terms. You may have heard a few of them before — net-zero emissions, carbon zero, and carbon neutral. While they’re related, these terms have slightly different meanings.
Carbon neutrality doesn’t mean you produce no CO2 emissions. Instead, it refers to balancing what you do create with an equal amount being removed from the atmosphere. One of the most common ways to do that is with carbon offsets.
Carbon offsets are programs that reduce CO2 emissions. One way they do this is by producing no carbon dioxide (zero carbon). Another is by removing CO2 gas already in the atmosphere with carbon sinks, such as forests or carbon capture technology.
Net zero is similar to carbon neutrality. However, it goes beyond carbon dioxide and refers to balancing the production and removal of all greenhouse gases, including nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon. In essence, carbon neutrality is one component of achieving net-zero emissions.
Simple carbon reduction tactics to achieve your goal of carbon neutrality
Are you looking for ways to reduce your carbon emissions? Below are five tips that can help.
1. Be a smarter and more environmentally conscious shopper
Believe it or not, your shopping choices contribute to your overall carbon footprint. While you might not be creating carbon emissions directly, the companies you support could be producing a lot. Their transportation methods, packaging, and other decisions affect your environmental impact when you buy what they sell.
Research the brands you typically buy to learn what, if any, eco-friendly efforts they’re making. You can usually find this information on a company’s website. Brands like Patagonia, Seventh Generation, and TOMS feature an array of eco-friendly products and are taking steps to improve the world around us.
Other eco-friendly shopping choices you can make include:
- Selecting products with recycled or recyclable packaging (or minimal packaging)
- Opting for reusable products instead of single-use
- Buying second-hand items
- Bringing your own bags when you shop in-store
- Combining your online purchases to cut down on shipping materials
- Supporting local businesses
2. Choose organic food and limit food waste
The word “organic” often conjures images of expensive produce, meat, and dairy products. It actually refers to food systems that meet a strict set of guidelines. While these items may sometimes come at a slightly higher cost, studies show that organic farming can help reduce pollution, conserve water, and improve soil health. In other words, they can help fight climate change. When possible and practical, choose organic over conventional.
Consider your overall food buying habits, too. Do you often buy more than you need and end up throwing some of it out? That food ends up in a landfill, decomposes, and produces methane. Some landfills employ methods to capture this potent greenhouse gas, but not all of them.
Help achieve your carbon neutrality goals by limiting food waste. Here are some suggestions to help:
- Don’t buy more than you need, especially if you think there’s a chance you might not use it.
- Create a meal plan and stick to a shopping list.
- Don’t shop hungry.
What about food scraps? You may be able to limit those by finding creative ways to use them. For example, peels and ends of carrots, zucchini, onions, and potatoes can make a great vegetable broth. Combine citrus peels and vinegar into a gentle, eco-friendly cleaning spray. Consider composting; if you can’t compost at home, find out if your area has a food waste composting program.
3. Stop choosing fast fashion for your clothes
“Fast fashion” is a term for clothing that’s produced quickly and cheaply. These clothes usually sell for lower prices. People may only wear them a handful of times before discarding them. Moreover, high volume production and rapidly changing trends mean the unpurchased clothing gets thrown away, too.
Along with creating significant waste, fast fashion often involves the use of toxic chemicals, harmful dyes, and unsustainable synthetic fabrics. Rather than breaking down after being thrown away, the clothes release toxins into the air and ground. They can also harm the people making and wearing them.
While the prices can be tempting, avoid fast fashion items. Invest in fewer, higher-quality articles of clothing. Research brands that use sustainable materials and ethical practices. Try shopping at a local or online second-hand store. You may be surprised at the number of high-quality items below retail prices, some with their original tags attached.
4. Go green in your transportation habits
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average passenger car generates approximately 4.6 metric tons of CO2 emissions a year. Your exact contribution depends on several factors, including your vehicle’s fuel economy, how far you drive, your driving habits, and more. And if you use other fuel-powered modes of transportation, such as planes, your contribution grows.
Fortunately, there are many eco-friendly transportation choices you can make:
- Take care of your car so that it runs more efficiently.
- Carpool to work or use public transportation.
- Walk or bike instead of driving.
- Consider trading in your current vehicle for a hybrid or full-electric vehicle.
- Don’t fly if you don’t have to.
- If you do need to fly, balance your impact with carbon offsets.
5. Invest in clean energy for your home, like solar power
There’s a good chance that the electricity you rely on at home comes from the grid. Power plants generate that electricity using various fuel sources, including coal, natural gas, and petroleum, all producing significant greenhouse gas emissions.
You have a few solutions if you’re wondering how to go carbon neutral when you need electricity to live comfortably. Investing in solar power is an increasingly popular option. With these panels, you generate your power. You may also be able to sell back the solar energy you don’t use or store it in a battery to reduce your reliance on grid-supplied electricity after the sun goes down.
Another option is enrolling in a green energy plan. While these plans don’t necessarily supply your home with electricity from renewable energy sources, they still allow you to reduce your impact and become carbon neutral. Energy providers that offer these plans purchase renewable energy credits to match your power usage, and that money goes toward funding renewable energy projects in Texas.
If you’re looking for more impactful energy plans, partner with Power Wizard. With a subscription to our carbon offsets plans, it’s easy — and affordable — to work toward achieving carbon neutrality at home.
Calculate your personal carbon footprint and set a carbon neutral goal
Learning how to be carbon neutral doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple changes in your daily decisions can help you drastically reduce your personal carbon emissions and do your part to fight climate change.
Get started with Power Wizard’s carbon footprint calculator and choose a carbon offset plan. You can feel confident your choice supports renewable energy projects that help you reduce your CO2 emissions. You’ll even get regular updates on your impact on the world. Visit Power Wizard today to learn more!