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6 Tips to Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the New Year

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Individual choices go a long way toward building a greener future for everyone, and reducing your carbon footprint is one of the single most impactful goals you can set for yourself. Figuring out the best ways to make these reductions may seem a bit tricky if you aren't sure where to begin, but a few simple changes can have a more dramatic effect than you think.

Here are some of the easiest and most effective methods of reducing your individual carbon footprint which will help improve the quality of life for everyone.

1. Avoid bottled water.

Drink tap water instead of bottled water. According to experts, bottled water is almost 2,000 times more energy intensive to produce than tap water. Plastic bottles can take 450 years or more to break down and decompose. Some estimates push that number closer to 1,000 years, so if you want to make a difference, use the tap.

2. Eat less meat - especially beef

What does beef have to do with carbon foot printing? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Producing beef requires significantly more resources (e.g. land, fertilizer, and water) than other sources of meat. Live Science estimated that producing beef requires 28 times more land, 6 times more fertilizer and 11 times more water than producing pork or chicken.

3. Insulate and use less heat and air conditioning

Upgrading your home's insulation and installing weather stripping around doors and windows can lower your heating costs by more than 25%. And if you re-program your thermostat and turn down the heat while you are sleeping at night or away on vacation, you'll see energy savings as well as a reduction in energy waste. Do you know that setting your thermostat 2 degrees lower in winter and 2 degrees higher in summer can make a monumental difference in your footprint?

4. Change your furnace filters

Clogged filters force the furnace fan to work harder and, therefore, consume more power. Filters also help the heating and cooling systems to run more efficiently, so overall energy consumption is reduced. If you're having issues, consult a professional HVAC specialist to help you learn everything you need to know about furnaces which will empower you to reduce your energy waste at home.

5. Replace Your Light Bulbs

Replace regular light bulbs with compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs or energy saving bulbs. Canadian Tire, Costco and Walmart have special sales on these types of energy-efficient bulbs frequently, which means you have little excuse not to upgrade. According to Energy Canada, if every Canadian family replaced one regular light bulb with a CFL, it would eliminate 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gases, the same as taking 7.5 million cars off the road.

6. Drive Less and Drive Smart

Less driving means fewer emissions. Besides saving on gasoline, walking and biking are great forms of exercise. Make public transit your friend and check out options for carpooling to work or school. When you do drive, also make sure your car is running efficiently. For example, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent.

Anyone can make simple changes to the way they live their life. Everyday actions and choices do make a difference, and we all share a responsibility in keeping our planet hospitable. Reducing your carbon footprint is not as difficult as it seems - just follow these 6 simple tips to get you started in the New Year.

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