November 30, 2012

Live Simply - Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Complexity and consumption increase the size of your carbon footprint

Want to do your part for climate change? Living a more simple, less energy-intensive lifestyle can be a good way to contribute. Taking responsibility for your own carbon footprint is a step you can take whether world leaders can agree on a Kyoto replacement or not. 

Climate change denial has been harder to spin since Sandy struck. Hopefully that catastrophic event, and other weird weather globally, will have an impact on the UN Climate Change Conference negotiations taking place in Qatar over the next few days.

Qatar, an oil-producing nation, has the highest CO2 emissions per capita in the world. But I can't say much about my country, either. Canada is the largest consumer of energy in the world per capita, and the second largest producer of greenhouse gases (after the United States). We have just over 30 million people, but we use as much energy as the entire continent of Africa, home to 700 million.

The good news is that there is a lot of room for improvement.

Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Living more simply offers many ways to reduce your personal contribution to climate change. It could be as easy as walking more often. As Steven Wright said, "everywhere is within walking distance if you give yourself enough time". 

Here are a few other actions you can take, ranging from run of the mill responses to more outrageous ideas.

  • live close to work, or to a pubic transportation network. Or work from home. Or, if practical, quit work.
  • walk, bike, skip, hop, run, jog, roll - all are low carbon footprint activities.
  • consider vacationing at home, or close to home. 
  • quit vacationing altogether after you quit working and no longer  need to "get away".
  • bus, train, and ships are the among the most efficient methods for long distance travel. Sailboats and horses are pretty good too.

  • grow/raise as much of your own food as you can
  • if you don't have access to soil join a community garden
  • support local organic farmers
  • eat low on the food chain
  • stay away from convenience foods of dubious nutritional value with a lot of packaging
  • keep to the outside of the grocery store where all the fresh food can be found
  • eat less - the average North American could eat a few hundred calories less per day and be healthier
  • raise back yard chickens
  • guerilla garden in empty or abandoned lots

  • live in a smaller home and cut energy use, utility bills, and CO2 emissions. 
  • replace lawn with a veggie garden and fruit trees
  • make your home as energy efficient as possible
  • install solar panels and/or a solar hot water system
  • compost organics and recycle everything else
  • stop buying unnecessary stuff - high consumption lifestyles are high carbon footprint lifestyles
  • say no to single use/disposable products
  • lower your thermostat in winter, raise it in summer

The Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of this year. Hopefully, political interest in lowering carbon emissions doesn't also expire. Either way, tackling your carbon emissions through your very own low-carbon, simple living protocol is a way to contribute now.


  1. My husband and I are both simple by nature, but there is always more to be done. We moved only 1.5 miles from his current job, which is great, but we are currently trying to simplify our lives to the point that we no longer have to take vacations to get away from our life and can live the way we want everyday. We are younger, both still in our thirties, so officially retiring isn't an option and we also have a child, but we figured out that if we can be successfully happy with less, than we can have more time and most of all freedom to do what we want. We believe it's all in the priorities and our number one priority is freedom: from stuff, from debt/credit, from jobs we don't care for, etc. Reducing your carbon footprint is a good way to start to help completely reshape your current lifestyle.


    1. Sounds great, Marie. If we don't have freedom, we don't have anything.

      You are right - wanting to reduce your carbon/environmental footprint is a path that leads to good things.

  2. Reading your blog for the past yr. has paid off. I'm not sure for whom but its paid off. I buy less!

    Your suggestions in this article are good & if people followed them they would reduce their carbon foot print and save money. I found purchasing things made in Canada or the U.S.A. really reduced my purchasing. There isn't much out there that is manufactured in our countries so my shopping has been substanitally reduced. I have gotten into the habit of counting how many pairs of shoes I have or jeans prior to going shopping. No need to purchase more if you already have more than you can get into the closet. Buying books at the used book store has saved me money & returning them for credits, makes me money. Used book store owner is also happy.

    Reading the blog has made differances to how I shop, well less shop & it is working. Thanks for the good work & excellent articles.

    1. Buying less? Fantastic!

      Thanks for sharing some of the strategies that have worked for you - other readers will like to hear these.

      Congratulations on your reduced consumption. Thrilled to hear we had something to do with your success.

      Thanks for visiting, and participating.


Comments will be printed after moderation to eliminate spam. We are proudly a no buying, no selling website.

We enjoy reading all comments, and respond when time permits.

If you put a name to your comment we can all recognize you for your contribution.

Thank you for visiting and commenting.