Travel guide: How to reduce your carbon footprint
Considering the continuous ever-growing release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oblivious question is – where does it all go? In our blog you can learn more about ways and strategies that help you reduce your carbon footprint.
What some people might not know, the major amount of CO2 that is released from fossil fuel is in fact absorbed by the ocean, which in consequence leads to a slow change of the oceans pH-level. This process which is also known as ocean acidification has a serious effect on various marine organisms as some of them use calcium carbonate to build their skeletons and shells. If you have ever put vinegar on a shell you know what happens. Those marine organisms that will be influenced again contribute to the abundance of zooplankton and therefore also have an influence on sustaining other, also higher organisms across the oceans – including the whale shark.
As one of three known shark species in the world, whale sharks depend on plankton as their sole source of food. This unfortunately also means that the acidification affects them indirectly which makes them an indicator for the health of our oceans.
In the following you can read more about a few ideas of how to reduce our carbon output and therefore helping to protect our oceans and with them also the majestic whale sharks:
1. Recycling, re-using
Nowadays recycling is more common around the world and also councils and authorities are likely to provide easier ways for it. In addition to that the packages of the products we consume on a daily basis offer a whole bunch of possibilities for a smart or creative re-use. On numerous websites and YouTube channels you will find clever ideas and a lot of inspiration on how to transform every-day-objects into something completely new. In the following some ideas are attached:
Making your own paper: How about a different use of unloved bills? You could also add some pressed flowers as well as magazine cuttings that you find interesting or funny to create your own, personal greeting card.
Up-cycle your clothing: Who hasn’t been there – your favourite pair of jeans rips apart due to overuse and holes have gotten just too big to still match the latest “distressed look”. Then what about transforming them into shorts or maybe a handbag? If you are not that good at sewing, you can consider cutting old clothes into stripes to weave your own vintage carpet or maybe a bathmat. In the end, you can always cut your old shirts into pieces and re-use them as cleaning and polishing clothes.
Building tea-light holders: All you need for your personal romantic tea-light holders are some old tin cans no matter the size and shape, a lick of paint on the outside, a tool to produce some holes in the can and some sand to hold them down to the ground.
2. Avoid plastic!
Not only does it take a lot of energy to produce plastic bags, they also cause the death of millions of marine animals every year! In addition to that a single-use plastic bottle uses up twice as much water in its production process than it contains when you buy it. Even though it is really difficult in a consumer society to avoid plastic, you can start with yourself and be mindful about the packaging material during your regular shopping tour.
Single use of plastic bags: Meanwhile it has become more common in several countries to charge for plastic bags and some have even completely banned them. In the end the easiest way to avoid single-use bags is to bring your own reusable ones.
Preferring glass over plastic: As glass is one of the materials that can be recycled most easily, you should choose it over plastic packages if possible. Moreover, you can still use it to store loose groceries or something else and freeze leftovers in it after the glass is empty. If there is no further use for it, you can recycle it.
Plastic straws: If you have ever seen a video of a turtle getting a plastic straw removed from its nose, you will probably think differently about the next straw you will automatically be served with your drink. When thinking about this automatism and how many drinks a night will be served like this as well as how many straws this makes in a week, a month or even a year, it does not surprise that many of these pieces of single-use end up in the ocean instead of the landfill they were supposed to go.
By simply asking your waiter to serve your drink without a straw and maybe also explaining the reasoning to those who are interested or starting your own petition, you can contribute to sparing some animals the same ordeal as those poor turtles in comparable videos. Alternatives are e.g. glass or titanium straws that are completely reusable and available online.
3. Prefer local and seasonal food
The best way to avoid extensive CO2 emission from shipping and transporting goods all around the world is to buy from your local green grocer. Moreover, this way you support local economy, meet likeminded people from your neighbourhood and avoid tasteless fruit and vegetables that are harvested way too early in order to survive the long transport. An alternative is to buy seasonal groceries in your supermarket that are produced nearby to avoid a large carbon footprint.
4. Car sharing
Who doesn’t know it? You are stuck in traffic with nothing left to do. It might even get a little lonely on long journeys. Travelling together by organizing shared car rides to work, to the supermarket or even on longer journeys will not only keep you in good company but also reduce the overall amount of used fuel and, therefore, the carbon output. In addition to that you can also save some money if you split the cost for fuel.
5. Switch off the light
This is not supposed to be an advice to return to working in the light of candles. This simply means switching off the light if you leave the room or if there is no need for it. Moreover, you could also keep an eye on the light in the office if you are the last one to leave, especially on Fridays to avoid leaving it on unnecessarily. If light is supposed to be left on overnight you can also consider talking to superiors about it or propose switching to low-usage bulbs at night.
This will not only benefit the environment by reducing the power consumption and in consequence also the carbon output but it will also save the company some money. In addition to that the light pollution will be reduced that is a major problem for many species of insects, birds and even turtles.
In general, conservation is not about changing the world all at once but most often starts with the small choices every one of us is making on a regular basis. In quintessence: Don’t be overwhelmed because you don’t know where to start and don’t be afraid! Every little action is important.
Make a contribution to species conservation and help protect vulnerable whale sharks in the Maldives
Become active in preserving endangered wildlife and unique ecosystems as a volunteer in South Africa