Sustainable living isn’t just a buzzword or a trend anymore—it’s a way of life. One that we should all practise. Doing our parts for the environment (zero waste or low impact) can begin at home; without massive investments or effort. Understanding your carbon footprint is also a brilliant method to get started. According to Time For Change, “a carbon footprint is defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)”.
We spend so much of our time at home so it is only natural that we reduce our carbon footprint at home first—before moving on to school or the workplace. The suggestions given below are easy yet effective ways to get started:
1. Line-dry your clothes
One of the easiest and most instant ways to reduce carbon footprint at home is line-drying your clothes. Opting out from using a machine—choosing traditional over new—can result in reducing one-third of carbon footprint. It is said that: the more heat an appliance produces, the more energy it needs to work. Approximately three-quarters of carbon footprint comes from using the dryer (compared to the washing machine with a typical 40º Celsius wash).
By switching to a clothes rack or washing line, you could save up to 500 kilogrammes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). This statistic is calculated based on a load of five kilogrammes. In addition to that, the tumble dryer is said to be the second largest energy-consuming appliance; utilising natural gas or electricity to heat air.
In Malaysia, the all year abundance of sun means that line-drying our clothes shouldn’t be too difficult. Of course, we need to take various factors into consideration—such as space and time. If you’re using a dryer at home, you don’t need to toss it. Make small changes along the way and think of ways to minimise usage of the appliance. For example, why not go the old school way when you don’t have too many clothes to dry?
2. Eat less meat
Meat consumption is, in fact, a Malaysian way of life. Many of us grew up with meat in our staples—whether it’s nasi lemak, beef rendang, kolo mee, mutton curry, or chicken rice. While going completely meat-free can be daunting or even off-putting to some, it’s good to know that it is one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon footprint. It does make a huge difference when meat consumption is decreased.
This is true, especially when it comes to red meat—which “consumes 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions than chicken or pork”. To help the environment, you don’t have to go vegan. Start small; go from consuming meat every day to four times a week. Gauge yourself and see how things go. After all, it’s all about adapting.
A good way to make the switch is to look for alternatives at home. If you don’t have chicken, why not substitute with potatoes instead? One fun method to plan with the family includes setting days for meat and days without meat. For example, Meatless Wednesdays.
3. Grow a garden (or add some plants)
This is applicable whether you’re in an apartment or a house. You don’t even have to plant a massive garden. In fact, you can reduce carbon footprint with just a few greens. The greenhouse effect of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide can be decreased by growing some plants. When plants absorb carbon dioxide, we as humans benefit.
Some indoor plant suggestions are the snake plant, polka dot plant, jade plant, cast-iron plant, asparagus fern, and aloe vera. Tropical vegetables that are easy to grow from seeds in Malaysia include cucumbers, sweet corn, pak choi, and amaranth. Of course, you need to consider sunlight, soil, and other factors when deciding on what you’d like to plant.
There are many places to get your seeds and plants. Find out what you want by checking online or take some time to browse the plant nurseries around you. In addition to adding style and flair to your home, you will also be reducing carbon footprint.
4. Unplug electronic devices when not in use
Do you usually leave your phone charger plugged in even when you’re not charging your phone? Here’s the thing: electronics that are not powered can still absorb energy. You will still be contributing to more carbon footprint as long as the chord is in the socket. Hence, to prevent the constant drawing of energy, you are encouraged to always unplug your electronics.
This phenomenon of energy bleeding is called standby electricity loss or vampire electricity. This applies to your laptops, your washing machines, the microwave, and more. Of course, some appliances need to remain powered throughout such as the refrigerator and wine cooler. It is completely up to you to decide what’s required.
There are a plethora of ways to do your part and these are just some suggestions for you to start with. They are also rather easy to enforce. When it comes to helping the environment and fighting the climate crisis, we are all responsible. Therefore, we should always do everything we can to make a difference—and there’s no better place to start than home. Let’s continue to strive towards reducing carbon footprint!
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