Before you begin to reduce your carbon footprint, you need to first learn what a carbon footprint is, and how to calculate it. The carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases you produce through daily activities of living, either directly or indirectly. There are many carbon footprint calculators online to help you determine how much pollution you produce; these calculators ask simple questions such as how much do you drive a car, how much water and electricity do you use, and do you recycle. Even small, simple steps can have a large impact, and reducing your carbon footprint can be as simple as turning down the thermostat, or altering your driving habits.
Once you've calculated the carbon footprint, you can begin to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint. Though it may at first seem like you are making some inconvenient compromises, the importance of reducing your carbon footprint cannot be overstated. The first way in which many people can help the environment is to drive less. Find out if anyone can carpool to work with you, or if it would be possible to ride a bicycle, take mass transit, or walk to some places you might otherwise have driven. If possible, trading in an older, less fuel-efficient car for a newer car is another great way to reduce emissions.
Another important way to reduce your carbon footprint is to pay close attention to the utilities you are using at home. Turning off the lights when you leave a room, and unplugging electronics when they are not in use doesn't just help the environment, it also saves you money on your electric bills. Turning the heat down and line-drying clothes also helps. Using less water by taking shorter showers, doing larger loads of laundry instead of many small loads, and turning the water off when you brush your teeth are other ways to help the environment and save money. On a larger scale, installing energy efficient appliances or solar panels to make use of renewable resources also makes a measurable difference.
Recycling as much as you can is another effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. Even if your community does not offer curbside recycling services, chances are there is a recycling center nearby that you can visit. In addition, instead of throwing out old items like clothing, furniture, old toys, or kitchen tools that will just end up in a landfill, give them new life by donating them to charity, having a yard sale, or trading with other people. Purchasing locally grown foods or starting your own garden, even a container garden on a patio, is another way to reduce your carbon footprint. By simply living with awareness, and making more considerate, creative choices, you will find that helping the environment becomes simple.