These are the 4 most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Your moment

If we want to save our planet and ourselves from climate apocalypse, we need new policies and governmental action. We're not gonna save the Earth changing our household light bulbs.

Extinction Rebellion – a burgeoning social movement to fight climate change that is taking hold in the United Kingdom – is asking for just this: governments must tell the truth about the ecological emergency and enact legally binding measures to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.

There are no other ways out of this mess: structural change is needed.

However, this doesn’t mean that as individual citizens we can go on a carbon spree without consequences. Or that all the ways to reduce our personal carbon footprints are equally ineffective.

Different studies highlight that there are four effective ways to cut on your individual carbon emissions. And no, changing light bulbs is not one of them.

While we should keep asking for top-down changes, it’s also good to remember that we can start making an impact on the environment right now by adapting our lifestyle.

1) Eat a plant-based diet

Plant-based diets are gaining momentum, at least in the media. Many articles published over the past few months emphasize the importance of ditching meat to fight the climate breakdown.

I enjoy the flavour of meat a lot and I’d find it difficult to go 100 percent vegetarian (let alone vegan) right now. Nevertheless, I can considerably decrease my meat consumption. This is already highly beneficial for the environment.

Moreover, I can advocate for meat alternatives like plant-based or clean meat.

2) Avoid air travel

Flights are a notorious source of gas emissions. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid flying. Many jobs require travelling on a regular basis and even though in many cases a virtual meeting will do just fine, there are still some occasions in which your physical presence is needed.

How to solve this ethical dilemma? One solution might be to donate some money to carbon offsetting schemes. These projects can go a long way in fighting carbon emissions.

3) Live car-free

Research shows that living car-free saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year (while a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year).

I’m lucky enough to live in the Netherlands, a country where it's easy to move around without a car. This is possible thanks to an efficient public transportation system and the omnipresent cycle lanes.

In this case, it’s interesting to notice how my personal decision to live car-free is supported by environmentally friendly public policies.

4) Have a small family

If someone doesn’t exist, she doesn’t have a carbon footprint. This reasoning might seem at the same time cynical and stupidly obvious. But it’s also true.

According to Population Matters, having one fewer child is 25 more effective in cutting carbon emissions than living without a car.

What else could I do to reduce my carbon footprint?

Support Cool Earth, a highly effective organization that we thoroughly vetted.

Cool Earth is not only an offset scheme. It provides grant funding to rainforest communities, supporting community work in rainforest protection and ensures their voice is heard in agreements about the future of the rainforests. At the time of writing, 234,436,540 tonnes of CO2 has been stored as a result of their projects. Their Asháninka project shields millions of acres of forest from loggers, with 901,679 acres saved to date.

You too can help to save our planet. A more liveable Earth is just a click away 👇

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  • We vetted 5 celebrity charities to see whether they’re doing any good

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    Our selection of charities below isn't based on any scientific criteria. We browsed lists of celebrity founded charities and tried to pick out a balanced list 

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    • The Lopez Family Foundation. Co-founded by journalist Lynda Lopez and her sister singer Jennifer Lopez, the Lopez Family Foundation “advocates and invests in policies and programs that make a positive, measurable impact on communities and makes quality healthcare and health education available for underserved mothers and their children.”

    • Born This Way Foundation. A charitable organization created in 2012 by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta “with the goal of creating a kinder and braver world” (we can’t help but sympathize with such aim).

    • The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Created in 1998, the foundation was established with the mission of protecting the world’s last wild places.

    • The Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation was founded in 2003 by Angelina Jolie as a “conservation and community development program in the Samlout Protected Area” (Cambodia).

    • The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls is a nonprofit boarding school that provides “education and leadership opportunities” to disadvantaged girls in South Africa. 

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    • Third, we check if the organization makes its financial statements public.
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    So, to start with, we just wanted to see whether the five celebrity-run charities passed the Initial Screening.

    I asked our in-house research team to have a look. This is the screenshot that they shared with me:

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    Quite discouraged, I read the notes the research team attached to the screenshot.

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    The Born This Way Foundation’s website was deemed “quite minimalist” by the research team, lacking information about key staff members and financial statements. Similarly, the Lopez Family Foundation should expand its website to include financial statements, strategic plans, relevant information about key staff members, and contact information (they don’t even have a contact form).

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    And if you’re Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, or Angelina Jolie and want to improve the Initial Screening score of your foundation don’t hesitate to drop us a line at davide@kinderdonations.org

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