Some people believe that it’s impossible for individuals to have any real impact on global levels of carbon dioxide and other harmful fossil fuel emissions. Yet, individual actions can help significantly reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to abnormal global warming and climate change. Your actions today can even improve air quality overall, which is incredibly important since particles from burning fossil fuels can damage the body, especially the lungs and blood vessels.


You can obviously reduce your carbon footprint by sharing a ride, using mass transportation or riding a bicycle for daily commutes, errands and long-distance travel. That said, local, state and worldwide transportation, manufacturing, utility and other systems also rely on the consumption of fossil fuels. To reduce your carbon footprint in an effective fashion, make the following lifestyle changes today:


Green Your Property

Every plant that you add to your landscape and indoor and outdoor areas removes toxins from the air and creates oxygen. Of course, certain types of greenery can actually increase your carbon footprint. For example, live grass lawns require a lot of fresh water, which makes them a poor landscape solution because you must use extra electricity to pump the water from underground sources. Also, people often use gas-powered equipment to maintain their lawns. Succulent, moss and rock gardens that require little or no water are a better landscaping solution. Vegetable and herb gardens are another great option. Although they use water, they eventually produce enough food to reduce the number of trips you must make to go to a supermarket. If you live in an area that permits trash barrel and brush burning, pick green disposal processes instead: Donate unused or old items to thrift stores and set up a compost bin for biodegradable waste.


Make Local Purchases

It might seem like common sense that you should buy locally to reduce the amount of time that you contribute to carbon emissions while traveling in a personal vehicle or public transportation. The fact is that you need to look at the broader consumer cycle to understand just how much you add to global carbon emissions when you buy from non-local sources. Shoppers promote unnecessary fossil fuel usage every time they purchase non-local, out-of-season, out-of-state or out-of-country items. If you absolutely must have a non seasonal fruit or vegetable, for example, purchase the items locally in greenhouses before buying those grown in other regions. Since many fertilizers have a fossil fuel base, you should also purchase organic fruits and vegetables. Lastly, always purchase items that you use regularly in bulk so that you only add to your carbon footprint once or twice a year instead of every few days, week or month when you run out of something.


Use Reusable Bags

Plastic doesn’t break down into a non-harmful form when thrown in landfills or after it finds its way into water systems like streams, rivers and seas. Researchers have actually found microplastic particles and fibers in fresh and salt water environments. One of the easiest ways you can reduce your daily impact is by investing in reusable bags that only contribute to carbon emissions during manufacturing, while in transit to retail locations and during recycling or waste disposal after repeated consumer usage. You can find low-cost, folding tote, insulated cooler and other types of wholesale bags made of recycled plastics or natural fibers for grocery and other types of errands easily at supermarkets, pharmacies, dollar stores, thrift stores, natural- and organic-focused outlets and local charities and fundraisers. Silver foil and other insulated bags that protect cold items like prescriptions and fruit that you receive in shipments are another option that reduces the amount of gasoline used in certain situations. For example, reusable insulated bags provide a lightweight alternative to an ice-filled cooler that protects cold groceries during transport on a hot day.


Pick Efficient Products

Electric companies still rely heavily on coal and natural gas to generate power. Many manufacturers also continue to design products without energy efficiency in mind. As a result, you should always look for the Energy Star label since products with it have been certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as extremely efficient. When investing in personal electronics, take care that they use the least amount of energy overall. For example, pick a tablet, e-reader or laptop instead of a desktop computer. It’s also important that you pick electronics designed to prevent or limit energy drain from electric outlets when in sleep or standby mode. Other efficient products include LED light bulbs and smart home systems that provide remote and scheduled control of indoor and outdoor systems that use energy, such as lighting, irrigation, heating and cooling systems. To limit your use of public power, supplement it with alternative power sources like solar panels and backup batteries.


As you can see, it’s not difficult to lower your carbon footprint starting today. You and your loved ones merely need to rethink how you interact with consumer products and the environment and then change some bad habits. Although some of these solutions might require an expensive investment of time and money, you will eventually recoup the costs and save over time while making the world a better place to live.