What YOU can do: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions 

A recent first-of-its-kind study led by King County shows greenhouse gas emissions per person DECREASED. We’re all doing more to protect the environment. 

But total emissions INCREASED, in part, because more people moved here. 

The study provides Central Puget Sound counties and cities with data and tools to achieve climate goals on a large scale.  

But what about YOU?  

When it feels like it’s all doom and gloom, what can YOU, as one person, do to have a real impact and reduce greenhouse gas emissions? 

Research from the Center for Behavior & the Environment says if 10% of the U.S. population made these seven lifestyle changes, we could cut emissions in our country by 8% in six years. 

1. Green up your commute 

The U.S. uses more refined petroleum than any other country, most of that for transportation.  Nearly half of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks. Riding a bike, walking, taking public transportation, and carpooling are always the greenest choice. 

But we understand it’s not an option for everyone. New car buyers, when possible, should opt for an electric vehicle to reduce passenger vehicle emissions. 

2. Fly less 

Per passenger-hour, air travel’s climate impact is up to 47 times higher than taking a trip in a car.  If people who fly the most canceled just one international trip a year, it could have a significant impact on emissions. 

3. Eat more plants 

Americans eat almost four times more beef, which is the most greenhouse gas intensive protein. You don’t have to go completely vegetarian or vegan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Simply eating less meat would help.

4. Don’t waste food 

We waste about 400 pounds of food every year. That’s about one-third of the food we make and eat. Food waste adds to greenhouse gas emissions – from chemicals used while producing it, to transportation, to the landfill, where it creates powerful methane emissions. Aim to waste less in the first place, then compost what’s left. 

5. Use less energy and switch to green energy 

More than half of the electricity generated in the U.S. comes from fossil fuels, including natural gas. Installing solar panels and adding clean energy options to your home like electric heat pumps can significantly drop CO2 emissions. Turning off the lights, unplugging appliances, and switching to LED bulbs cuts greenhouse gas emissions, too. 

6. Buy carbon offsets 

When it comes to greenhouse gas emission footprints, Americans leave some of the biggest marks.  While taking steps like the ones on this list help, it’s not enough. Buy verified, reputable carbon credits to offset part of your carbon footprint. 

7. Support local, seasonal, soil-friendly farms 

While this does not fit neatly with the other personal actions, experts say farming practices have a big impact, too. Soil naturally stores carbon. When it’s plowed, carbon is exposed. 

Better agriculture practices, like no-till farming, keep carbon in the soil and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers that also emit greenhouse gases. Buying local, seasonal food also helps reduce CO2 pollution and strengthens the local food economy. 

If we all did something…

If one out of 10 of us made these lifestyle choices, it would make a significant difference in greenhouse gas emissions. 

Now, imagine what two out of 10 people could do and go share this with a friend. 

For more tips on what you can do to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, like buying sustainable products and volunteering, visit King County’s Climate Action website

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