Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home—While Social Distancing

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home—While Social Distancing

Just because you are at home, cooking more and testing your boredom does not mean you should forget about your carbon footprint reduction checklist. Here are the New York Times’ best at-home, eco-friendly steps that are easy.

The New York Times Climate Fwd newsletter drops daily tips on being environmentally conscious right in your inbox. One from this week gave readers some accessible ways to reduce their carbon footprint and be environmentally friendly while at home, social distancing and waiting for this global pandemic to die down.

The Times’ broke the tips down into three categories: home, food and other. You might be surprised at what you can do with little to no effort—and how making these small changes could have a significant effect on the environment and your carbon footprint.


Program your thermostat: An estimated 41 percent of Americans have a programmable thermostat—but just 12 percent actually program them. You can set yours to automatically change with the time and seasons, said Brenda Ekwurzel—and doing so could reduce your “heating and cooling emissions by 15 percent.”

Get cleaner power: There are a number of options for power nowadays, and the greener options are more affordable than you think. Research solar panels (some companies are promoting contact-free installations) and community solar. Or, if you live in a deregulated energy state, look into switching to a green provider.

“Kill energy vampires:” Nearly five percent of our total residential electricity usage comes from devices that stay plugged in when they’re not being used. So, Dr. Ekwurzel suggested putting devices on a single power strip that you can easily switch on and off.

Adjust your water heater: According to the Department of Energy, lowering the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit from 140 degrees (or to about 50 Celsius from 60) could reduce its annual energy usage by nearly 22 percent.


Try climate-friendly recipes: Going vegetarian could reduce your food-related footprint by a third—and even if you eat less meat overall, it “makes a big difference in the long run.” While going vegan isn’t necessarily appealing to everyone, the vegan lifestyle has been proven to reduce a person’s food-related carbon footprint by up to 73 percent.

So try new recipes, stock up on fruits and veggies, and maybe try meatless Mondays. It will be healthy for you and the environment.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA): Another way to cut down on your food-related carbon footprint is “by buying agricultural products that have been flown around the world,” said Lauren Hanscom, chief executive officer of the Global Footprint Network. Community supported agriculture programs make getting your food easy, local and environmentally friendly.


Go paperless: Reducing the amount of paper products you use is hugely helpful for the environment. Spend 30 minutes registering for digital statements from all of your accounts. While you’re at it, reduce your unwanted junk mail, too.

Get educated: We’ve all been doing a lot of reading during our social distancing, stay-at-home boredom (hopefully). What better time to educate yourself on climate change books, documentaries and podcasts than during this crazy time at home?

It’s easy to get caught up in the world outside our homes: the pandemic, the unemployment rate and the wave of anxiety. But while we stay inside, avoiding driving our cars, suspend our travel plans and do more cooking, we can capitalize on this opportunity to focus on what we can control ourselves, like our own carbon footprints.

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