Want to reduce your carbon footprint and wondering what you can do to make it happen? Then you've come to the right place! Eating, traveling, heating or shopping - the daily behavior of each and every person on this planet consumes natural resources and pollutes the environment. For one more, for the other less.
In order to preserve the planet for ourselves and future generations and to make the environmental impact of personal actions measurable and comparable, the ecological footprint an important sustainability indicator has been developed. It determines the biologically productive area on our planet (given limited ecological capacity) that is necessary to sustain one's lifestyle in the long term.₁
In this article, I would like to introduce you to valuable tips on what you can do right now to improve your personal ecological footprint. Let's go!
Here is an overview for you:
- Reduce consumption of animal products
- Prefer regional and seasonal food
- Pay attention to organic quality in food
- Avoid food waste
- Only use living space that you really need
- Switch to green power provider and save energy
- Reduce your direct water consumption
- Prefer train, bicycle and walking
- Limit consumer behavior to necessities
- Reduce waste generated
10 tips: How can I reduce my ecological footprint?
Before we move on to the tips, you should first check your current, Determine ecological footprint with this calculator. Please be absolutely honest in your answersin order not to falsify the test result.
Your result will be displayed in "Global hectare" (short: "gha") is given. The value makes the footprint of people at different locations in this world with different, biological productivity comparable. You'll also learn, how many planets we would need if all of the world's citizens had your ecological footprint.
When testing, you will quickly notice that especially the areas of Nutrition, housing, mobility and Consumption are crucial for your personal footprint on our planet.
Now that you've determined your value, you can reduce your carbon footprint by implementing the following tips.
Tip: Have you already heard about Earth Overload Day heard? It is the day of the year when we humans have consumed more renewable resources than the earth can reproduce in the entire year. In Germany, the day was already May 4 in 2023.₂ This fact should give you even more motivation to reduce your own share of it.
1. reduce your consumption of animal products
The "animal detour" is extremely resource-intensive. Animal feed, water, energy, animal suffering... all this is necessary to end up consuming meat, eggs, fish and cow's milk. Even the Deforestation of the rainforests is largely due to the cultivation of animal feed and the production of pasture land.
Who Environmental sins in everyday life should therefore eliminate animal-based foods from their own menus. The less animal products you consume, the smaller your environmental footprint. There are not only ecological, but also health and ethical reasons for this.
- Why live vegan? The most important reasons
- Stop factory farming - What everyone can do
- Vegan for people - Why veganism also promotes human rights
You already eat vegan? Then you can help other people do the same, Prejudices against the vegan lifestyle file.
2. prefer regional & seasonal foods
If you consciously pay attention to regionality and seasonality in your food purchases, you support the economy in your area. At the same time, your purchases become increasingly climate-friendly, as no long transport routes, energy-consuming cold chains or heated greenhouses necessary are.
Your virtual water consumption (indirect water consumption, e.g. for watering your food) is also significantly lower as a result. Just pay attention to regional seals and use a seasonal calendarto have an overview of which foods are in season at any given time.
3. make sure your food is of organic quality
Organic certified food is generally more environmentally friendly than products from conventional production. Especially because no or less pesticides used become the essential cause of the Species extinction are.
"Organic" may be a bit more pricey in some circumstances, but it also makes up for it with healthier and more sustainable. If you want to reduce your ecological footprint, you should definitely follow the reliable Organic Seals orient
Keep in mind, however, that organic meat is still meat and is also produced in a very resource-intensive way. A Organic product is therefore not automatically environmentally friendly - but it is generally more environmentally friendly than its conventionally produced counterpart.
- Buy organic food at a low price - this is how it works
- Organic farming - what is it actually?
- Sustainable pest control - This is how it works naturally
Good to know: Something also needs to change in terms of economic policy. Because at the current time, the healthier and environmentally better option in the supermarket is often the most expensive and available in lower numbers. However, it should be the cheaper option and available in large numbers in order to Protect the environment in our everyday lives.
4. avoid food waste
The global food waste Causes about 8 percent of total man-made greenhouse gas emissions₃ and thus contributes significantly to the climate change at. This is a value that would not have to arise at all. Especially in our western Abundance Society it is far too easy for us to throw away food because most of the Always (and at any time of the year) available are.
Growing, producing, processing, transporting and storing food are extremely resource-intensive and costly. For a better ecological footprint, it is essential, to value this effort as if you had done it yourself.
5. use and heat only the living space you really need
Heating your home not only costs a lot of money - the excessive energy consumption, as well as the use of limited raw materials such as oil and gas, also harms the environment. A smaller living space could be heated accordingly cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
So pay attention to it the next time you move, that the apartment of your choice is not bigger than it needs to be. Of course, this also applies to the construction of houses. It is also advisable to rely on modern technologies such as a Geothermal heating to switch if you have the opportunity.
Besides, you don't always have to turn the heating up "full blast". Sometimes it's enough to just put on a sweater! Basically, try everything to keep the to keep spent thermal energy in the house during the cold season. In the hot summer months, among other things, it is again necessary to darken the windows to avoid the use of energy-intensive air conditioning.
6. switch to a green power provider and save energy
If you want to reduce your environmental footprint, you should definitely switch to green power. Whether it's coal or solar power, your smartphone may charge just as fast. The main difference between electricity from fossil fuels and regenerative energy sources, however, is found in its consequences for the planet.
A Switch to a green and independent green power supplier*. lasts only five minutes and can easily save 1.9 tons of CO2 per year for a three- to four-person household.₄ Few tips are more convenient to implement to improve your own ecological footprint.
Also you should in the household consciously Save electricity. For example, by buying energy-efficient household appliances, turning off your PC, TV and unnecessary artificial lights completely, cooking with a lid on or air-drying your laundry.
7. also reduce your direct water consumption
Every German uses around 120 liters of water a day directly from his or her own faucet₅ - excluding virtual water consumption for food production. (already addressed above)
How much water (especially hot water) you use for Body care, the Toilet flush, the Cooking or the Watering the garden is a decisive factor for your ecological footprint.
For example, turn off the water when you soap up, use only the small button for small business on the toilet - and catch rainwater to water your plants in the garden.
- Reduce water consumption - It's that easy
- Water scarcity - definition, causes, consequences and solutions
8. prefer train, bike & walk
Around 4.9 percent of global warming can be attributed to CO2 emissions from air traffic.₆ No wonder, then, that flying to the other end of the world - and of course the many Short-haul flights - have an extremely negative impact on your environmental and carbon footprint.
Also Car trips do not cut a good figure. If you have the opportunity, you should therefore use public transport, the train, the bicycle and ideally the Walk on foot prefer. The more you move yourself, the healthier and more environmentally friendly your life will be.
Of course, flights and car trips can't always be avoided. I also have a few tips for you: If you're flying at least compensate your greenhouse gas emissions. Experience preferred Destinations in Germany and Europe, exchange diesel or gasoline engine for a Electric car and form Carpools with other people to reduce the ecological footprint of you and, for example, your work colleagues at the same time.
- Driving sustainably - Here's how
- Is it possible to fly environmentally friendly?
- Good reasons to get on your bike more often
9. optimize your consumption behavior to what is necessary
How often do you buy a new smartphone or new shoes? And do you ever buy something used? Think and live minimalist in any caseto reduce your environmental footprint. Don't buy every new thing and don't run after every new trend, but rather maintain and appreciate the things you have. And reduce your possessions as much as possible to the items you really - I mean REALLY(!!) - need.
Use instead of own (Sharing) is a good alternative for not having to do without anything. Swapping, sharing, borrowing, repairing and doing it yourself are further important basic rules for a more ecological consumer behavior.
- Why you save money through sustainability
- Store sustainably online - here's how
- Durable fashion - making clothes last longer
- Slow Fashion - How to treat clothes sustainably
Notice: Also remember that pets worsen your environmental footprint. The more pet food and water they need, the less sustainable your own daily life will be. For example, how you can reduce Reduce your dog's carbon footprintI explain in the linked blog article.
10. reduce the amount of waste you produce
Plastic waste in the environment is one of the biggest environmental problems of our time. The waste we produce (whether plastic, waste paper or electronic waste) also makes for a worse ecological footprint. So if you want to improve it, you should think in terms of the Zero Waste Lifestyle make as little trash as possible. Not only because the garbage causes great damage to the environment, but also because it has to be recycled or incinerated at great expense.
If you want to reduce your environmental footprint, you should increase unpacked and plastic free shopping. Borrow magazines instead or read them digitally. There are endless ways to avoid waste. Evaluate your trash can after a week to see your savings potential at a glance.
- Zero Waste Tips - Avoid waste in a targeted manner
- Living plastic-free - The most important tips
- Zero Waste for Beginners
It's really easy to reduce your carbon footprint!
Now you have learned many useful tips for a more environmentally friendly everyday life. Just put them into practice bit by bit - and then simply do the test again. I can guarantee you - also from my own experience - that your ecological footprint will improve.
"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."Edmund Burke (more at Environmental protection quotes)
Please be aware that your gha value does not have to be zero. You don't have to do anything perfectly - Constant improvement will also get you to the goal. Every step in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all. I, too, have plenty of room for improvement, even though I deal with environmental protection and sustainability every day.
And one more thing: it's just great that you're doing everything possible to make your Making life more sustainable! That is half the battle for an ever more environmentally friendly society. The other half is your "political handprint" dar. Use this time at school, work or in your community to make even more people aware of how easily they can protect our planet every day.
Do you have any questions, suggestions or further tips and ideas for a better ecological footprint? Then feel free to write me a comment.
₁ Wikimedia Foundation Inc: Ecological Footprint, available at https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ökologischer_Fußabdruck. [16.06.2023].
₂ Germanwatch e.V.: Earth Overload Day (as of 04.05.2023), available at https://www.germanwatch.org/de/overshoot. [16.06.2023].
₃ European Parliament: Food waste in the EU: millions of tons of food end up in the garbage (infographic, as of 15.05.2017), available at https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/de/headlines/society/20170505STO73528/lebensmittelverschwendung-in-der-eu-infografik. [16.06.2023].
₄ Kathrin Fromm: 5 Tips on How to Reduce Your Ecological Footprint (as of Jan. 17, 2018), available at https://www.nationalgeographic.de/umwelt/2018/01/5-tipps-wie-sich-der-oekologische-fussabdruck-verkleinern-laesst. [16.06.2023].
₅ BMU (2017): Drinking water (as of 23.08.2017), available at https://www.bmuv.de/themen/wasser-ressourcen-abfall/binnengewaesser/trinkwasser. [16.06.2023].
₆ Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e. V. (BUND): The true cost of flying: climate killers. https://www.bund.net/themen/mobilitaet/infrastruktur/luftverkehr. [16.06.2023].