Climate change can be overwhelming. The science is complex, and when it comes to future impacts, there are still a lot of unknowns. While real solutions will require action on a global scale, there are choices you can make in your day-to-day life to lessen your personal impact on the environment. This guide will walk you through some of them

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production, use and end-of-life of a product or service. It includes carbon dioxide — the gas most commonly emitted by humans — and others, including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming. Usually, the bulk of an individual’s carbon footprint will come from transportation, housing and food

You can start the process by calculating
__your carbon footprint here You will need to know the following:
No matter how you scored, here are some things that could help you lessen your personal environmental impact

One of the most effective ways to begin thinking about how to reduce your carbon footprint is to reconsider how much, and how often, you travel

In November 2017 carbon dioxide emissions from transportation surpassed emissions from electricity generation as
__the top source of greenhouse gases Why? Electricity generation is shifting away from the use of coal to more renewable sources and natural gas

Going carless for a year could
__save about 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide according to 2017 study from researchers at Lund University and the University of British Columbia — that’s a little more than a roundtrip transatlantic flight. How can you stop using a car? Try taking a **train, bus **or better yet, **ride a bike** 
But let’s be realistic. You will likely need to use a car this year. So, when you do, here are some tips to make your trip more climate-friendly:
Shopping for a new car is a great opportunity to consider how you can reduce your personal carbon footprint. When choosing between gasoline, hybrid and electric, there are a number of factors to take into account, which will determine how “clean” your purchase is. The following can help:
Fly often? Taking one fewer long round-trip flight could

 Think about it this way: If you use public transportation often, and fly home to visit family just occasionally, your carbon footprint might still be relatively sustainable, but if you drive and fly a lot, your emissions will be higher. shrink your personal carbon footprint significantly__
If you can’t avoid flying, one way of
**making up for the emissions **caused is to offset them by donating money to sustainable projects, such as supplying efficient stoves to rural homes, or projects which help farmers in India sell crop waste as biomass. Sometimes airlines will give you this option themselves, or you can use a third-party like __Atmosfair__ or __Terrapass (You can __calculate the emissions per flight here
Globally, emissions are linked to what we put on our plates

While food systems are complicated, and research is still evolving on what the most environmentally-friendly diet is, experts mostly agree that
__cutting down on meat and red meat in particular, is a better choice for the environment. This is because the production of red meat uses a lot of feed, water and land. Cows themselves also give off methane emissions (a harmful greenhouse gas)

For that reason,
**eating a vegan diet is likely to be best for the environment say experts. According to a study published in 2017 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, red meat can have up to __100 times__ the environmental impact of plant based food. (According to some estimates, beef __gives off more than six pounds of carbon dioxide per serving the amount created per serving by rice, legumes carrots, apples or potatoes is less than half a pound.) **Eating a vegetarian or pescetarian diet are also likely to be better for the environment than a diet which includes a lot of meat. **Each of these, however, depend on exactly what you are eating, and how much of it. If you replace that meat with dairy, for example, __your emissions could rise again “Deep net fishing can emit as much as beef,” said Marco Springmann, a senior researcher on environmental sustainability and public health at the University of Oxford. Following national health guidelines, with further reductions in meat, fish and dairy (this is similar to a **Mediterranean diet is a good option too, Dr. Springmann said. These diets can also have __health benefits__


** eating low down the food chain as often as you can** is a probably a good way to reduce your carbon footprint and __stay healthy say experts. That means filling your plate with vegetables, fruits, grains and beans. For meat-lovers, even swapping carbon-intensive meats like beef and lamb with chicken can make a difference. Better still, swap __a few meals per-week__ to vegan or vegetarian. This __protein card__ can help you make climate (and wallet) friendly choices at the grocery store

When it comes to food, most greenhouse gas emissions happen
__during production, rather than transportation ** What youis more important than where it comes from. **But eating local can still make a difference

Fewer food-miles can mean fewer emissions. The complicating factor in eating locally happens when you start to consider
**how the food got to you, not just from how far away it came. Thislocal' argument, I would take it with a pinch of salt,” Dr. Springmann said. Tomatoes brought a short distance to a farmers market by truck, or shipped further to the grocery store by a train, could release similar emissions. (The transportation you take to get your tomatoes, and bring them home, also matters.) **What about local meat versus imported vegetables? **Eating only locally grown food for one year would save the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 1,000 miles, but eating just one vegetarian meal a week for a year saves __160 miles more than that according to one study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon. **How about organic? **You might choose organic if you prefer toproduce grown with fewer chemical pesticides, but when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, you’re better off shifting to low-impact, plant-based foods, according to a __recent study__ published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The study found that organic systems use less energy than conventional ones, but they often require more land and, therefore, emit similar greenhouse gas emissions

This is
__a big one on average, **Americans waste around 40 percent of the food they buy. **
Luckily, there are simple solutions to lower your food waste (and these tips will save you money, too
**What toOn. **Skip the disposable dishes and wash your dinnerware instead. Washing dishes, whether it is by hand or in a dishwasher, is likely to be __more environmentally friendly__ than using disposable ones (assuming your dishwasher is energy efficient). If you do need to use disposable plates, bowls and cutlery, there are ** climate-friendly options look for compostable or biodegradable options). If you order takeout, **wash and reuse the plastic containers **that food often comes in

There are simple changes you can make at home that will save you energy, and money

In the average American home, 25 percent of energy is used to heat spaces, 13 percent is used to heat water, 11 percent is used for cooling and the remainder is spent on appliances, according to estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Making even small changes to these can make a big difference, said Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist and director of the N.R.D.C.’s Center for Energy Efficiency. “There’s a lot you can do without having to pick up a hammer or write a check,” he said. (This calculator can
__help you work out __your energy usage before and after you make these changes.)
Americans generate about roughly
__258 million tons of trash a year 169 million tons of which ends up in landfills and incinerators, according to a 2014 report from the E.P.A. That year, American’s recycled and composted 89 million tons of municipal solid waste — this saved the same amount of energy as generated by 25 million homes. But much of the waste that can be recycled still ends up in landfills

Here are some tips to make sure your waste ends up in the right place:
Small changes to the insulation and design of your home — from do-it-yourself hacks to building changes — can help you reduce your carbon footprint at home. Before starting, you can also
__do an energy audit or have a professional come in to rate and score your home’s energy efficiency

Buying less is the first step. Beyond that, there are simple ways to reduce the impact from your purchases

According to the World Resources Institute, 20 items of clothing
__are manufactured per person, per year This is because of “fast fashion”: clothes that are produced quickly, cheaply and unsustainably. As the price of our clothes drops, the environmental (and human) costs increase

Here are some tips to minimize your impact when you purchase clothing:
You shop for more than just clothes, so whatever you’re shopping for — groceries, home goods, toys and whatever else — there are ways to take the climate into account

Here are some tips:
In addition to changing your day-to-day habits, exercising your rights as a citizen is one of the most significant things you can do to help the planet

Taking climate change into consideration when you vote is a good start. Here are some other tips: