Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

by Megan Hill

Apr 1, 2018
April 2018

WITHOUT SWIFT, EXPANSIVE CHANGES to the way humans currently tread on planet Earth, we will be dealing with the effects of climate change on a grand scale. Greenhouse gases — naturally occurring but increasing significantly due to human activity — from the burning of fossil fuels contribute to a warming climate that is wreaking havoc worldwide. Driving a car, heating your home and turning on the lights can all increase your carbon footprint, which has direct ties to climate change.

There are a slew of ways to reduce your carbon output, both at home and while traveling. Overall, reducing the energy you use can make a big difference, and steps like decreasing the amount of meat you eat, changing the type of light bulbs you use and choosing public transportation over driving a personal vehicle can all help lower your impact.

Let’s start with some home remedies. First, switch your light bulbs to LEDs, up to 80 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs. You’ll reap the benefit of a lower electricity bill, and the bulbs last longer. Compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, the spiral-shaped bulbs, have a similarly positive effect but are falling out of favor with consumers and becoming harder to find compared to LEDs.

The next time you buy a new appliance, whether it’s a refrigerator, washing machine, hot water heater or microwave, opt for new models that come with an Energy Star rating, awarded to products that prioritize energy efficiency.

Get smart with your thermostats. Consider lowering them by a degree or two in cold months and raising them slightly in warm months to cut back on energy use. Shut them off when you leave the house. Smart home devices, including thermostats, can help you monitor electricity usage via smartphone and help automate this process.

Wash your clothes in cold water, and line-dry them — both considerably lower your energy use.

recycle

© PHOTKA | DREAMSTIME.COM

Recycle and compost, whether through municipal programs or otherwise. The Environmental Protection Agency reports keeping products like glass, aluminum, plastic and paper out of the landfill can keep 582 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere a year, equivalent to driving 600 fewer miles per year.

Installing solar panels at your home will not only lower your energy bills but, depending on where you live, trade nonrenewable energy for renewables. You may even be able to make some money by selling your excess electricity back to your local power company.

When you’re shopping for your next vehicle, consider buying a hybrid, electric or fuel-efficient car. Again, depending on where you live and what energy sources your grid taps into, you may be able to significantly lower your carbon footprint by forgoing your use of gas or lowering the amount you need to run your car. You can also maximize your fuel efficiency by keeping your tires properly inflated; ditching the extra stuff you keep in your trunk or backseat; and trading driving for walking, biking, carpooling and using public transit.

At the grocery store, buy less meat and opt for local, sustainably grown items wherever you can. Raising meat is significantly more carbon-intensive than growing vegetables; some estimates show eating a pound of beef holds the same carbon intensity as burning a gallon of gasoline. Buying local goods can also help lower your carbon footprint as they don’t have to be transported as far to the store from where they are grown or harvested. Ditch packaged drinks for tap water, buy from the bulk section to reduce packaging, and bring your own reusable shopping bags rather than take the store’s plastic and paper.

Get an energy audit. Find a local company to assess your home, finding areas where you can make efficiency improvements. Chances are you’ll decrease your carbon footprint while also saving money on energy costs.

Traveling, particularly if you’re clocking in a long distance via airplane — and even more so via private jet — can be a carbon-heavy endeavor. But there are ways to reduce that footprint. If you can’t avoid flying altogether, consider reducing your footprint by opting for more efficient airlines when you can. Among the most reputable international airlines when it comes to efficiency are Norwegian Air and Aer Lingus. Domestically, Alaska Airlines, Spirit and Frontier rank highly.

Though it’s not as effective as cutting back on carbonheavy activities, you can buy carbon offsets, which involves donating money to projects that can help compensate for the carbon emitted during certain activities, like flying. Several companies offer this service, but they’re not all created equal, so you’ll have to do some legwork to determine their authenticity. Projects you can pay into may include tree planting, methane capture at farms and hydro and wind power facilities. The organization Green-e.org has a solid set of guidelines if you’re looking to go this route.

hybrid car

© IAN FRANCIS | DREAMSTIME.COM

When traveling, check out carbon-neutral or less impactful activities like kayaking, hiking and exploring on foot rather than renting a powerboat or going skydiving.

Reduce the amount of stuff you pack, thereby lowering the amount of fuel it takes to transport you and your belongings. More weight means more fuel in transport, whether you fly or drive, so packing light will help lower your carbon output.

If you’re really willing to make a sacrifice, don’t book a business- or first-class seat and opt instead for economy. A study by the World Bank showed the carbon footprint of flying business class can be three times that of flying in economy. For first class, that gap jumps up to nine times.

When booking a hotel, pick an ecologically minded company with sustainability programs that help lower the impact across the board, from the kitchen to housekeeping to the construction of the building. Hotel websites may feature sections on environment or corporate responsibility, which can clue you in to what the company is doing to reduce its impact. And be sure to take advantage of programs that allow you to save water by opting not to have your linens changed daily. Even better, use the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door so housekeeping will skip the cleaning altogether, reducing energy use. And be sure to turn off your lights and adjust your thermostat when you leave the room.

If you’re taking a tour, pick a company that highlights environmental responsibility. Some may opt for green practices, like using hybrid vehicles, while others tout certain ethical practices that help lower the overall impact of touring. Doing some research can help you uncover these aspects.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Daily
Oct 14, 2019

A New Generation of Sea Life Takes Up Residence in Las Vegas

The Mirage in Las Vegas welcomed a new addition to its Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. A baby bottlenose dolphin, born Aug. 16, represents the fourth generation of dolphins living in the habitat.

Your Home Away From Home

Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.

Feature
Oct 13, 2019

How to Prevent Your Miles and Points from Expiring

Keeping up with expiration dates for various miles and points programs is not typically something high on anyone’s to-do list. Here are a few ways to keep track of your points across programs and get ahead of any impending expiration dates.

Feature
Oct 13, 2019

Cathay Pacific Drops Dublin–Hong Kong Route

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific is suspending its Dublin (DUB) route this November. The move means Ireland will lose all direct links to Asia, as Hainan Airlines canceled flights to Beijing (PEK) and Shenzen (SZX).

The Island of the Knights

Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.

News
Oct 13, 2019

United Unveils New Livery

United unveiled a unique new livery at its Newark (EWR) hub last month. A Boeing 757 aircraft features livery designed by a New Jersey artist and the design prominently focuses on imagery from both New York City and New Jersey. The artist, Corinne Antonelli, won United’s Her Art Here contest, a competition that invited women around the country to submit their livery designs.

Feature
Oct 11, 2019

New Baggage Rules for Virgin Australia

Travelers flying with Virgin Australia will soon get an extra baggage option, but there’s one catch: The owner of the extra bag must be under 23 months old.

To New Heights

United Airlines announces a number of new routes.

Feature
Oct 11, 2019

Ethiopian Airlines Adds WiFi to A350 Planes

Ethiopian Airlines helps passengers stay connected thanks to new in-flight WiFi service available across most of its Airbus A350 fleet.