Over the last 50 years or so, the eco-friendly movement has been growing at a rapid pace. And it has been an impressive multi-generational effort. The more time goes on, the more interested the public seems to be in reducing their carbon footprint.
As a company with roots in the eco-friendly, zero-waste, healthy planet movement, we’re thrilled to see this change! And we’re here to provide you with the best products for a reduced carbon footprint home.
But we’re also here to provide the information and tips you need to seamlessly transition into a lifestyle that’s better for the planet, and better for you, too. Whether you’re brand new to this journey or you’re looking for ways to further reduce your impact, you’re in the right place.
The Best Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint
Apply the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, Recycle
In our youths, many of us became familiar with the three Rs of reducing waste: reduce, reuse, and recycle. These are the ways to reduce carbon footprint that most of us have memorized.
But since then, this concept has been expanded to include a total of five Rs that promote sustainability:
The primary three may need no explanation, but let’s refresh the old ones and dig a bit into the newer rules. The refuse rule is simple and boils down to being more conscious of your purchases. Before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it or you just want it.
Use the refuse rule to cut down on the things that you don’t need. Impulse purchases are often regretted later. Cutting back not only helps the environment, but also helps you keep your house organized and clutter-free, so it’s a win-win!
And beyond cutting back on unnecessary purchases, it’s also important to say no to things like plastic single-use bags, water bottles, cups, and other single-use products. By following the refuse rule, you’re refusing to contribute more waste to landfills and oceans.
Reduce and Reuse
The reduce rule goes hand-in-hand with refuse. In every area of your life, ask yourself, can I use less? Fewer clothes? Less water? Less electricity? The list goes on. More often than you’d think, the answer is yes.
Reduce helps you cut out frivolous spending, saving both your bank account and the planet.
Reuse is an eco-friendly favorite. There are increasingly few reasons to choose single-use products, especially considering the long-term savings. Here are just a few examples of reusables we recommend:
- Swapping out flimsy disposable razors for a reusable and durable safety razor
- Swapping out plastic bottles for reusable water bottles
- Buying reusable shopping and grocery bags
- Buying reusable cotton rounds to use for your beauty routine instead of single-use make-up pads and balls.
- Swapping out your conventional shampoo and conditioner plastic bottle for our zero-waste conditioner and shampoo bars.
Beyond these eco-friendly swaps, finding ways to reuse or repurpose old products and objects instead of tossing them in the trash is something we highly recommend. And conscious consumers have gotten very creative in the ways that they repurpose products, too.
Repurposing is probably the most exciting of the 5 Rs because there are many different opportunities and ways to do it. Repurposing is also often called upcycling, DIY’ing, or transforming.
By any name, repurposing gives new life to things that would otherwise end up in a landfill or ocean. It can be simple or intricate, neutral or bold, practical or decorative, for your home or a gift. The choice is yours. You can find detailed instructions for repurposing (like these jars from our vegan candles) just about anything on Pinterest or with a quick Google search.
Rot and Recycle
That was a great start, but the list of ways to reduce carbon footprint does not end there!
Recycling is a concept that isn’t new, but you wouldn’t guess that based on how few people actually follow through with it.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable. This next stat makes that hard to believe or understand; they also estimate that we only recycle about 30% of it.
That makes for quite the gap between what can be recycled and what actually is recycled! We can help get this number where it should be. If something can’t be refused, reduced, reused, or repurposed, ask yourself if it can be recycled.
Recycling helps turn regular waste into useful objects. It saves money overall and keeps our landfills and oceans from overflowing with unwanted items. Along those lines, we add the rot rule to the list. This is where composting comes in.
Compost is organic materials that can be dropped into the soil to help plants grow. Primarily, it’s composed of food scraps and yard waste. We have a full guide on composting for sustainable living on the EcoRoots zero-waste blog, along with many other useful sustainable topics.
Cut Out Plastic Products and Packaging
If you’re looking for easy ways to reduce carbon footprint, the 5 Rs are a great place to start. But they’re not by any means the end of the line. And they lead right into two more answers to how to reduce carbon footprint: cut out plastic products and packaging.
As we mentioned earlier, there aren’t many reasons to buy plastic products anymore. Plastic razors can be swapped for safety razors. Plastic water bottles can be swapped for reusable ones. Many of these choices are clear and easy to find, but the packaging poses another problem.
Thankfully, while many major companies are still shipping in large, wasteful, and plastic-containing packaging, many others are working to eliminate this type of waste. At EcoRoots, our products are never shipped in plastic packaging.
All of our zero waste packaging is recyclable or compostable. By focusing on companies that provide plastic-free products and packaging, you can reduce your impact on the environment.
Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint with Your Meals
Food and food packaging are huge sources of waste in the United States. You can do a few things to reduce your carbon footprint in this aspect. Our favorite three and the three that tend to have the highest amount of impact:
- Eat seasonally appropriate meals
- Choose locally grown ingredients when you can
- Eat less meat
Eating in tune with the offerings of the season is better for the environment. Seasonal items have to travel shorter distances, cutting down on emissions, costs, and preservation measures.
And beyond that, seasonal food is often fresher, tastier, and more nutritious than food that has traveled long distances to be consumed out of season. Plus, there’s often less packaging involved if your meals don’t have to travel as great a distance.
Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables for fresh, budget-friendly, and eco-friendly eats. Check out local farmers’ markets, visit farms during pick-your-own seasons, and get to know and appreciate the natural growth process of the food you eat.
Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat less meat. This has become easier with the rise of alternative, vegetable-based, protein, and other non-meat meal options. Many fast-food chains even carry meatless burgers now, and for good reason.
The climate impact of producing meat and getting it ready for consumption is enormous. This industry contributes billions of tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and is actively accelerating global warming. Entire forests have been devastated to create space for facilities that process meat and contribute to the rise of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
If we each cut back on eating meat, these facilities will have no choice but to produce less of it. Supply and demand are one of the most basic components of economics. And cutting back on meat is easier than it has ever been before.
There are tons of easy and delicious recipes out there for vegetable-based and meat alternative meal options. If meat is a staple in your home, start by switching to meatless Mondays and work your way up from there.
Once you have a few non-meat favorite meals added to your rotation, it’ll be easier to build a more sustainable meal plan. And on top of being better for the planet, these types of meals are often better for us, too. More sustainable and healthier? Sign us up!
Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen
The kitchen is a room that a lot of our waste comes from.
Our tips for reducing your carbon footprint in the kitchen:
You can reduce your food waste by shopping with a list, planning out your meals ahead of time, and meal prepping. One easy way to start meal prepping is to wash and chop up your fresh fruits and vegetables after a trip to the grocery store.
We’ve noticed that at the end of a long workday, we’re way more likely to reach for something that doesn’t look like a lot of work. Doing the washing, chopping, and prepping right away saves us time, frustration, money, and waste later.
And when you’re done prepping, don’t toss the scraps in the trash. Start a compost pile instead! When you go shopping for groceries or any other items, bring reusable bags with you to avoid the single-use plastic ones they offer.
Lastly, choose eco-friendly product swaps in the kitchen wherever you can. Buy reusable containers to use instead of single-use Ziplocs. Use our vegan reusable food wrap instead of traditional plastic wraps or tin foils. There are countless home and kitchen swaps that you can make for a more sustainable and reduced carbon footprint lifestyle.
Shop Conscious and Sustainable
Shopping small businesses or online small businesses offers a more conscious and sustainable purchasing process. There are fewer or more planet-friendly packaging components, often a shorter distance traveled, and a higher quality in the products themselves.
Plus, shopping conscious and sustainable with small businesses is simply something that you can feel really good about. We’re all in this together. And we only have one planet to share.
Supporting small businesses is a great way to express kindness and gratitude, all while benefiting the planet. There’s really no downside to this one.
Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint in the Bedroom
The kitchen isn’t the only room that produces a lot of waste. Our closets are another source of waste that we can work on. Rather than regularly buying brand new clothing that we don’t really need, buying second-hand is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint. Repurposing, altering, or otherwise touching up clothes that we already own can make a big difference, too.
Research suggests that extending the average life of clothes by just three months per item can lead to a 5-10% reduction in our carbon, water, and waste footprints. And with the rise of apps and websites like Poshmark and Mercari, it’s easier than ever to find second-hand items that are just as good as brand new.
Plus, it’s generally cheaper to buy items second-hand, so it’s better for your wallet, too. And it’s not just clothes that can be thrifted. Stores like Goodwill and local tag sale sites often offer up other household goodies.
Sheets, towels, comforters, furniture, books, and so many other everyday items can be found at thrift stores and on local thrift sites. Buying second-hand items is one of the easiest ways to make more sustainable choices. And it can be really fun, too!
When you buy items that already exist, fewer resources are needed, and fewer things end up in a landfill or an ocean. The next time you go shopping for something, try to find it used first. Turn it into a game to see if you can find the hidden gem in the sea of forgotten products.
Cut Down on Emissions
As we all know, transportation is another major contributor to our already massive carbon footprint. You can reduce yours simply by driving less. And there are plenty of ways to do this, too. It’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. Of course, there are exceptions.
If you live far away from work, your preferred grocery store, and other locations you need access to, you may not have a choice. But many of us live in areas where we can drive less and walk or bike more.
If walking or biking to work isn’t an option, maybe carpooling is. Or maybe you need to drive to work but can walk or bike to the grocery store. Or maybe you can walk or bike to work and take the bus to the grocery store.
The point is that this category is personal and flexible. Choose whichever option is sustainable, safe, and not massively inconvenient. Start small by swapping out a trip or two and work your way up from there.
Some people choose to bike to work once to see how it feels and end up hooked right away. Others set up weekly carpools and others still might share a car with their spouse to reduce their environmental impact. Cut down on emissions in a way that makes sense for you and your lifestyle.
Conserve Water and Protect Our Waterways
Conserving water helps keep our water and waterways clean while also protecting the environment and reducing our carbon footprints. You can do this by simply using your water supply wisely and making responsible choices.
And keeping our water supply purse and safe will help us sustain resources for future generations, too. Reducing our water usage even just a little bit can help reduce the energy it takes to process and deliver it across the country.
Every drop counts. Use any or all of the following water conservation techniques to save money, preserve the future of our planet, and divert less water from our waterways:
- Check your toilet for leaks.
- Don’t flush single tissues or cigarettes; every flush expels up to seven gallons of water and these items can be placed in the trash instead.
- Take shorter showers.
- Use water-saving showerheads or pop on a flow restrictor.
- Take baths instead.
- Turn off the water while you brush your teeth.
- Turn off the water while you shave.
- Check all your faucets and pipes for leaks; even small drips can generate 50+ gallons daily.
- Only run your dishwasher when it’s full; each wash uses about 25 gallons of water.
- Apply the same rule to your washing machine, which uses about 30 to 35 gallons during each cycle.
- Use a full, clean sink or a big bowl of water to clean your fruits and veggies rather than letting the faucet run.
- Keep a big, filtered pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running the tap to get your drinking water to the right temperature.
- Don’t leave the water running while you’re scrubbing dishes in the sink.
- Only water your lawn when you see signs that it needs it, and deep soak it when you do so that it sinks to the roots where it’s needed.
- Choose drought-resistant trees and plants for sustainable landscaping.
- Add a layer of mulch around your trees and plants to slow the evaporation of moisture.
- Clean your driveway, sidewalk, porch, or front steps with a broom rather than a hose.
- Turn the hose off while you’re washing your car.
Water is a limited resource and shortages can be devasting. Conserving water can help alleviate shortages, keep our water sources safe and healthy, protect our planet, and keep future generations from suffering for the choices that we made.
Make the Switch to Clean Energy in Other Areas
When you’re ready to level up and take your sustainable lifestyle to a new level, making the switch to clean energy makes a huge difference. Get an inspection done by a local solar panel company to see if your home is eligible.
As time goes on, more and more options become available for powering your home with renewable energy. Rooftop solar panels might be the most obvious and common, but renewable energy is a growing market.
Wind turbines, solar-powered ovens, solar water heaters, and solar air conditioning options are all becoming more accessible to the general public. With rapidly advancing technology and government initiatives, it’s highly likely that these options will become even more accessible, and even more options will open up over the years.
And you can choose clean energy outside of your home, too. Many car manufacturers are shifting gears to offer more sustainable vehicle options. Electric vehicles are propelled by electric motors, using energy stored in their rechargeable batteries to get you where you need to go each day.
When it’s time to upgrade your car, look into electric options. Electric options are becoming much more popular, which means that they’re also becoming more affordable, and some dealerships offer special leasing, financing, or trade-in incentives for clean energy vehicles.
There’s no doubt in our minds that electric vehicles are the future. Each year, we see more automakers add more electric options to their lineups. And these options can help accelerate our transition to sustainable energy.
Shop EcoRoots for Easy Eco-Friendly Swaps at Home
So, there you have a detailed breakdown of how to reduce carbon footprint. Follow the 5 Rs, cut out plastic products and packaging, watch what you eat, make sustainable swaps in your home, shop consciously, conserve water, cut down on emissions, and pursue clean energy.
If this list feels overwhelming right now, don’t worry. You don’t have to make all of these changes all at once. Start with some simple, sustainable swaps in your home with the EcoRoots lineup of eco-friendly, zero-waste products.
We offer a wide range of options for your eco-friendly kitchen, bathroom, and other areas of your home, too. Plus, our zero-waste bath and beauty products like our shampoo bars and our vegan moisturizer will help you create a daily routine you can feel good about.