How to Reduce One’s Carbon Footprint


Matias Simionato , Staff Writer

The whole world is currently in a predicament known as Global Warming and since its discovery, humanity has been trying to stop it. As the world heats up some wonder, how can one help to slow it down? Well they should not wonder any longer, as there are many things one can do to shrink their carbon footprint, a record of their carbon usage and environmental effect.

“If we want to help the environment, then we need to recycle, eat local, do more walking and biking and utilize mass transport like trains and buses,” said Bryan Lindsey, the Environmental Systems teacher at Tompkins.

In order to help, one must change some things in their lives. One of these is the food that they consume. Eating a leafy diet is much more healthy to the environment than eating meat regularly. Farm animals, especially cattle, produce a lot of harmful greenhouse gasses such as methane, increasing the greenhouse effect on the atmosphere and trapping heat inside, warming the planet. This does not mean a meat lover should go full vegan though. Having a small steak once every month is alright, but for those who go to the gym and cannot continue to grow without protein, consider switching to nuts and beans. One can make a soup of beans and eat nuts right out of the package. If one were to eat their greens and eat their beans, then they have all the necessary nutrients for a healthy life.

Another way someone can reduce their footprint is by simply consuming less. This does not mean they should not consume at all, instead it means that they should try to only buy the necessities. For example, instead of buying a new trendy jacket, a person could save that money for buying something even more expensive down the line, in turn allowing them to feel more enjoyment later, and them consuming less. If someone just cannot buy nothing or just wants to buy something, then they should consider buying used things. Thrift stores like Goodwill or other stores like that give low prices and help save the environment.

“A double edged sword that society wields is plastic, as it is extremely useful for many comforts of modern life, it is extremely harmful to the environment and babies in their early years,” said Lindsey.

Plastic is used everywhere in the modern world, in the shopping bags stores give out, in the packaging that food uses, and most depressingly, in the ocean. Plastic is made by refining oil into these plastic molecules, not allowing it to break down naturally, so a plastic bottle that was dropped in the middle of the ocean will not break down and decompose naturally, it will turn into tiny plastic particles called microplastics and end up in the fish that eat them and the fish that eats that fish, and eventually inside the people that dropped the bottle themselves. So how can one minimize this process of plastic destroying the environment? By reusing and recycling.

“Recycling is something that we’re taught to do at an early age, but we never really think about how much it helps. It gives us the opportunity to help the environment a little every day, and with millions of people doing that, then it helps a lot,” said Lindsey.

By reusing and recycling, a person can not only shrink their carbon footprint, they can also decrease the amount of money one spends. Recycling is mostly about the carbon footprint, by taking an item that has recyclable materials, glass, paper, plastic, aluminum and the sort, and turning it into either a new version of itself or a different item all together. The first version is referred to as primary recycling and is only really viable to aluminum. The second version is referred to as secondary recycling, and is used to produce lesser quality goods, but benefits the environment. Now reusing is something that can save someone money, it also connects to the idea of not consuming much as was stated earlier. It is quite simple, just bring a tote bag when buying things instead of using the grocery bags, refill a water bottle instead of buying a new one or bring a coffee mug to Starbucks instead of getting their own ‘recyclable cup’, which is actually really difficult to recycle as it has a plastic layer inside the cup and recycling companies must waste time and energy removing the layer of plastic to even begin recycling it.

“Recycling helps the environment by keeping trash out of landfills and incinerators. We’re getting better and better at recycling but we still have a way to go to fully master it,” said Lindsey.

As the world continues to warm, using these tips might become the norm, so if one wants to get ahead of the curve and start using these methods to lower their environmental impact. For those who want to learn more about these environmentally healthy tips, then they should try to volunteer in communities that try to lower their own carbon footprints, such as the Environmental Justice Health Alliance, a non profit organization that tries to save the environment. Another option is to take the Environmental Systems class, which teaches their students about the environment and how to save it.

“Other classes students can take to raise their awareness of the problems facing the environment are Aquatic Science and Earth and Space Science,” said Lindsey.