Reducing Emissions - Individuals

As individuals, it is possible and necessary to take action to tackle climate change. You can start it by implementing some of the tips below. Small changes in our daily lives make a difference and contribute to reduce greenhouse gases emissions released in the atmosphere. Many of them can also benefit your wallet by reducing costs!

Don't forget to share your emission reduction experiences with your neighbours, relatives, children and friends. Spread the word! Communicating about it is the best way to raise awareness and encourage actual climate action.

Transport

  • Avoid driving whenever possible. Prefer public transportation, biking or walking. If you do need a car, search for other alternatives such as car sharing or carpooling to minimize the climate impact of your driving.
  • Avoid short airplanes trips and take bus or train instead. For instance, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Emission Calculator  and the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, a round-trip from New York City to Boston for one person in economy class is equivalent to 62 hectares of carbon captured by U.S. forests in one year!
  • If you own a car, you can check on governmental subsidies to switch to an electrical vehicle, if possible.

Energy

  • Turn off the lights in empty rooms. Nice and creative memory aids may help you to not forget to switch it off. 
  • Use power-strips and extension cords with an interruptor, to switch appliances on and off as needed, and get rid of the default on-mode. 
  • Alternatively, unplug electronic equipment when not in use, such as your computer, microwave or sound system.
  • Turn off the heating and air-conditioning in unused rooms. Also consider put carpets on the floor to keep the house warmer during the winter.
  • Replace light bulbs with LED ones. It may be a bit of an investment to operate the change, but LED bulbs last longer and consume less energy - which is beneficial on the long run.
  • Invest in energy efficient appliances, if possible. This includes low flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets, in addition to the regular electrical ones.
  • Dry your clothes naturally whenever possible rather than using drying machine.
  • Defrost your refrigerator and freezer regularly.

Household

  • Switch fluorescent light bulbs to more energy efficient bulbs.
  • Avoid to take long and burning showers. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), letting your faucet run for five minutes to heat the water uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.  
  • Put a lid on the pan when you are cooking. This will consume less energy and will cook your meal faster.
  • Let your clothes dry naturally whenever possible. In case you need to use the drying machine, make sure the load is full.
  • Adjust your thermostat. Keep it lower during winter and higher in the summer.
  • Try to do your laundry setting a lower temperature. Hot water may shrink and damage your clothes. Check your clothing labels to know the washing conditions.
  • Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.

Lifestyle

  • Eat less red meat, poultry, and fish to increase vegetarian options. According to the Meat Atlas 2014, one kilogram of beef consumed in the United States emits 27 kg of CO2 equivalent. This is equivalent to 106 km driven by an average vehicle.
  • Try to buy local products as much as possible. By doing this, you not only reduce the carbon footprint associated to the journey of your food from the field to your plate, but you also support and strengthen the local economy.
  • Second-hand products are a good alternative to reuse resources - may it be about appliances, furniture, clothing or more. 
  • Minimize food waste by trying to prepare only what you will consume. If there are leftovers and depending on what they are, you freeze them or give them away. You can also check some initiatives in your city about food sharing.
  • Use a refillable water bottle or coffee/tea cup.
  • Bring your own reusable bag(s) when you go shopping.
  • Put a timer in your shower to minimize your water use.
  • Consider not ironing your clothes anymore: start a new fashion! 

Workplace

  • Turn off the lights in unused rooms.
  • Shut down your computer and monitor when you leave the office.
  • Avoid printing as much as possible. 
  • Bring your own cup, water bottle and reusable cutlery.
  • Prefer using public transportation or biking to work. If it is not possible, try to check if you can carpool.
  • Encourage your co-workers to do the same.
  • Find out if your company has a sustainability management plan, and if not, why not propose one? 

Want more ideas?

Country-specific initiatives that you can support