Carbon Footprints and a Circular Economy: How You Can Contribute

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Picture of the earth from satellite view

Humans have thrived on Earth for millennia; from the beginning, we have always been a part of nature. However, since the Industrial Revolution, we have increasingly polluted the precious planet we call home. During this time, machinery was introduced such as the power loom and cotton gin to increase quality and efficiency over human labor. Reliance on fossil fuels for energy overshadowed the use of renewable energy sources like wood, water, and wind. These changes have caused domino effects that are now becoming crippling to our planet and our health.

Awareness of our global environmental crisis has sparked the urgent call to move away from a linear economy toward a circular economy. In contrast to the linear economic model, where we take, make, use, and waste, the principle of a circular economic model is regenerative, not extractive. It is where we take, make, use, recycle, reuse, repair, return, and strive to minimize waste as much as possible.

Diagram comparing a linear economy to a recycling economy to a circular economy

To reduce our carbon footprints, we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, minimize our urge to buy brand new items, and reuse/repair/recycle with rigorous habit.

Why are Carbon Footprints Important?

On average, each American citizen has a carbon footprint of 16 tons, which is the highest in the world.1  In other countries, the per capita average is around 4 tons.2  According to various studies, the ideal carbon footprint is closer to 2 tons.

If our carbon footprints continue to skyrocket due to fossil fuel extraction, pollution and waste, climate impact will become even more dangerous in the form of global temperature risings, severe weather, higher ocean temperatures, a decline in Arctic sea life, and decreased snow cover. These occurrences are all linked; warming oceans fuel horrific hurricanes. Higher, drier temperatures lead to melting ice caps and increases in wildfires. Our consumptive behavior has a long-term effect on our entire planet.

If you’re interested in calculating your own carbon footprint, you can do so here. It’s a free evaluation that will indicate the areas of your life that you can alter to achieve a smaller carbon footprint.

A Circular Economy Will Greatly Impact the World’s Carbon Footprint

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is a way for us to imitate the cycles of nature: make something, use it, and reintroduce it to nature as a nutrient, or reuse it for something else. The loop entails the elimination of waste, regeneration of natural systems, and keeping products and materials in use. Today, we have the technology to change manufacturing processes to support a circular economy, but systemic change is never easy. To make the global impact necessary for the health and longevity of our planet, major changes will be needed from most of the world’s businesses, governments, and consumers.

We will all need to do our part to preserve Earth’s resources and dramatically minimize pollution. There are small changes that you can make to help propel the transition to a circular economy while shrinking your own carbon footprint. Here are a few ideas:

Your Transportation Methods Have an Effect on Your Carbon Footprint

Electric cars are a wonderful step towards minimizing your carbon footprint, considering they use almost zero fossil fuels. Hybrid cars are also a good option. They don’t eliminate the use of fossil fuels, but they do reduce them greatly.

It is also important to be aware of the way you drive. According to a study administered by Columbia University, you should avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking which can result in 40% more fuel consumption.3  Not only does that mean spending more money at the gas pump, but it’s dreadful for your carbon footprint, too. Listening to calm music may help you drive more serenely.

Air travel is also a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries around the world produces in a whole year. The pandemic has curbed air travel significantly, which has had a positive impact on pollution, however travel is forecasted to increase as COVID19 herd immunity increases. If your air travel starts back up, you can offset emissions from your flights by donating to sustainable projects. For your next big trip, you can do this by visiting Native.

Ways to Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

If you spend a lot of time in your home, optimizing your household energy is an important step towards shrinking your carbon footprint. Getting a home energy audit is helpful for calculating the energy you use. To reduce your energy consumption, you can:

  • Turn down your water heater
  • Use LED lightbulbs
  • Turn off lights in rooms that aren’t being used
  • Switch to energy-efficient appliances
  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth

Renting or purchasing solar panels as an alternative source of energy can have dramatic benefits. Proper insulation can help avoid unnecessary energy expenditure to heat and cool your home.

The Groceries You Buy Have an Impact on Your Carbon Footprint

Going vegan is not for everyone though it is better for the environment to cut red meat out of even a few meals throughout the month. Cow farming transmits a substantial amount of emissions into the atmosphere, and it’s even been proven that these emissions are more dangerous than CO2 from cars.4  Next time you’re eyeing the red meat section, try grabbing ground turkey or tofu instead.

Avoid allowing rotten food to collect in your fridge. Strive to always use the ingredients that you pick up from the grocery store, as food waste is very damaging to the atmosphere and your carbon footprint. Americans discard around 40 million tons of various foods every year.5  Endeavor to purchase only the food that you’ll consume during the week to overbuying perishables that will go uneaten.

Strive to eat all your leftovers. Take the extra piece of chicken breast you made last night for lunch and use it the next day in chicken tacos. Or mix your random veggies for a salad so they don’t spoil. Small changes can make a big impact in the long run.

Humanist Beauty is Carbon-Neutral

Humanist Beauty supports the move toward a more circular economy. The brand maintains a carbon-neutral footprint. To do this, forecasted annual greenhouse gas emissions were calculated, including office operations, manufacturing, and all shipping. Through Carbon Fund, Humanist Beauty has ordered credits to support reforestry initiatives that completely offset emissions. Additionally, Humanist Beauty products are formulated with 100% naturally derived ingredients and packaged in recyclable componentry.

You can learn more about Humanist Beauty’s mission, values, and environmental commitments here.

References:
https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-footprint-calculator/ [1] [2]
https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2018/12/27/35-ways-reduce-carbon-footprint/ [3]
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/cow-emissions-more-damaging-to-planet-than-co2-from-cars-427843.html [4]
https://www.rts.com/resources/guides/food-waste-america/#:~:text=Just%20how%20much%20food%20do%20Americans%20waste%3F%20Here%E2%80%99s,30-40%20percent%204%20of%20the%20US%20food%20supply. [5]

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Carbon Footprints and a Circular Economy: How You Can Contribute
Article Name
Carbon Footprints and a Circular Economy: How You Can Contribute
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Saving the planet by reducing carbon footprints and moving to a circular economy
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Humanist Beauty
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