Good, Better, Best: Cutting Your Consumer Carbon Footprint

Good, Better, Best: Cutting Your Consumer Carbon Footprint

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This is the second in a sequence of 5 articles that enable you discover methods to cut back your carbon footprint. We think about the principle carbon culprits within the common American’s life-style.

America is legendary — or maybe notorious — for inventing and exporting shopper tradition. The burst of post-war spending wherein Americans overcompensated for the shortages of WWII noticed residents transformed to shoppers.

By the early 21st century, few individuals even questioned George Bush’s declaration that spending was a patriotic response to 9/11. But the impulse spending and planned obsolescence of a shopper economic system have horrible penalties for the atmosphere. If you wish to scale back the affect of your purchasing, listed below are some good concepts, higher selections, and finest practices.

Carbon Footprints

Because carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are a number one reason for climate change, measuring the quantity of CO2 launched by a selected exercise can function a helpful shorthand for environmental affect. This measurement of the quantity of CO2 launched into the ambiance by specific human actions is called its carbon footprint. Every product and repair, in addition to lots of the actions we select to do with out spending, has a carbon footprint.

There are many ways to calculate your loved ones’s total carbon footprint, which could be larger or decrease relying on the variety of individuals in your family, the scale of your own home, how a lot and the way you journey, and myriad different main and minor choices you make all year long.

On average, every American generates 18.55 tons of CO2 emissions every year. This is 3.5 instances the worldwide common of 5.3 tons.

Shopping Footprints

Whether you employ EPA estimates of whole emissions or the Union of Concerned Scientists’ household averages, transportation is the most important supply of greenhouse gases within the U.S. — producing 28% of the nationwide whole.

Yet for many households, the stuff you purchase is available in a detailed second at 26%. This is considerably of an amorphous class that features the whole lot from furnishings to haircuts, which might make it arduous to pinpoint efficient adjustments. But it’s clear that American shopper tradition is a crucial part of our environmental affect. Our consumption habits clarify how the United States, with solely 4.3% of the world’s population, generates 15% of worldwide greenhouse gases.

How can we alter our purchasing habits to cut back our shopper carbon footprint?


One of the only steps could also be one of the efficient: suppose earlier than you store. Precycling is greener than recycling, so take a second to rethink your purchase earlier than pulling out your pockets.

Have you been influenced by advertising to need one thing you don’t want? Are you partaking in “purchasing remedy”? If you do want the merchandise, may you discover it second hand or make repairs to one thing you already personal as a substitute? Will this buy really fill your want or is it a band-aid resolution that may want changing straight away?

You don’t have to attend for the day after Thanksgiving to take part in Buy Nothing Day. Challenge your self to reside for at some point with solely what you have already got. It could also be tougher than you suppose, nevertheless it will also be surprisingly satisfying.


Once you’ve began making fewer informal purchases, you’ll have extra time to dedicate extra vitality to shopping your values. Take the time to analysis merchandise earlier than buying. The effort will enable you make greener buying choices, and prepare your thoughts to suppose earlier than spending. And as soon as you understand how a lot environmental injury numerous merchandise trigger, you might be satisfied to purchase even much less stuff.

It doesn’t take loads of shopper analysis to understand that inexperienced merchandise typically come at a worth premium. Once you’ve lower out pointless purchases, you could possibly afford extra of those costly, eco-friendly merchandise. But you’ll be able to’t spend your solution to sustainability. Put your self on a funds, and follow it. Living cheaply is normally greener by default, and it forces you to seek out inventive, low-impact solutions to on a regular basis selections. Healthier private funds are an necessary facet profit.

As an extension of budgeting, put your self on a spending food plan. Schedule common private Buy Nothing Days; delay purchases till after the following payday; or look forward to different milestones earlier than making necessary purchases.

Playing with the stability between delayed gratification and hedonic adaptation helps us maximize our pleasure from the purchases we do make. And generally we discover that after the assigned ready interval has handed, we not wish to make the acquisition.


Most individuals consider minimalism as a visible model marked by white backgrounds and ideal Instagram pictures. But minimalism is a mindset unrelated to aesthetics that Americans have to undertake to chop their environmental affect.

Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle is a serious change that utterly eliminates wasteful purchasing. Learn from those that have already gone earlier than you, and embark on a Buy Nothing Year. Even if you happen to don’t succeed within the problem, it’s positive to reset your relationship to stuff.

Read half three of this sequence: Good, Better, Best: Cutting Carbon From Home Heating and Cooling

Feature picture by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay. This article was initially revealed on May 14, 2020.