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10 simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Reducing your carbon footprint doesn't mean giving up the things you love. Even small changes count.

What is carbon footprint? This is a measure of how your personal actions – like what you eat and how you travel – impact greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. These gases are known to trap heat, causing global warming.

India has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% by 2030[@ratify-cop]. Here, we look at steps to reduce your carbon footprint and potentially save money.

Create an energy-efficient home

From switching to energy-efficient appliances to generating electricity from natural resources – there are many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint in your own home.

Air conditioners (ACs), for example, can be expensive and use a lot of energy. Simple changes, like keeping the blinds closed and turning your AC off when you're not using it, can keep your home cool and save costs. 

Cut down on your electricity consumption

Changing your daily habits at home can also make a difference and lower the cost of your energy bills.

Simple steps could help, such as not leaving gadgets on standby, hanging your clothes to dry, and using less water. 

It takes energy and resources to process and deliver water to our homes. Try taking showers instead of baths, and only boiling the water you need.

Install a hybrid power supply system

This solar power system stores energy in a battery and switches to the grid when needed. You not only save money on electricity bills, you can also sell your surplus energy back to the grid.

With a hybrid system, you don't have to worry about power cuts - you'll always have a back-up battery power source.

Both central and state governments in India offer financial assistance and subsidies to homeowners who install rooftop solar panels.

Be a mindful shopper

Buy only the things you need and you'll see an immediate impact on your wallet and your carbon footprint. If you're in a shopping mood, there are dozens of online platforms where you can buy and sell recycled or pre-loved goods.

Although it may cost more at the outset, buying better quality – from clothes to household appliances – can save you money in the long run as they'll last longer.

Change your eating habits

The food we eat and where it comes from can have a significant impact on the environment. For example, meat and dairy accounts for 14.5% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).[@fao]

So even though India has one of the lowest dietary carbon footprints in the world, it's also the world's largest producer and consumer of dairy products. 

Food shipped from overseas also uses a lot more resources than local produce as it needs to be transported long distances.

Manage your food waste

FAO estimates that, from the time of harvest to reaching the retailers, we lose 14% of global food production.[@fao] When we waste food, we also waste the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. If your food waste ends up in landfill, it also produces methane—a greenhouse gas that's more potent than carbon dioxide.

You can reduce food waste by creating a budget, planning meals and storing your food carefully.

Choose sustainable transport

If possible, choose to walk, ride a bike or use public transport instead of driving.

Take the train if you can, and support Indian Railways' goal of becoming the first net-zero carbon emitter by 2030.

Stay closer to home for the holidays

If the journey is as important as the destination but it's actually an expensive hassle, why not holiday closer to home? It's better for the environment, too.

Flying makes up a substantial amount of our carbon footprint; taking trips that don't require a plane journey can significantly reduce your overall impact.

Upgrade to an electric vehicle

Switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) when it's time to buy a new car can help you reduce your carbon footprint. A 100% battery EV lowers our reliance on fossil fuels and produces zero tailpipe emissions. And noise pollution won't be a problem either - no engine means the cars are super silent.

The Indian government offers EV owners many incentives. You can expect a lower GST and third-party insurance rates; income tax deductions; and fees waived for the road tax and new vehicle registration.

Still up in the air on EVs? The e-AMRIT (Accelerated e-Mobility Revolution for India's Transportation) portal Journey Cost Calculator may help you decide.

Explore sustainable investing

Investors are increasingly choosing sustainable funds based on their values as a way to help create a better world. Issues like rising temperatures and higher sea levels are driving the need for investments in renewable energy alternatives. If you're looking to invest and lower your carbon footprint, you may want to consider sustainable options that enable you to have a positive impact.

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