How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.

If you don’t believe in climate change this post isn’t for you. This post is for logical people. The most recent report from the UN on climate change was the most startling yet – but is it enough to make you try to change your carbon footprint?

Welcome to the hilarious world of carbon footprints!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!! They’re so funny!!!! Sorry, yeah, carbon footprints aren’t intrinsically funny but I figured if I started out with a BANG you’d stick with me. Said every high school girl ever.

I’ve done my best to make this information as digestible as a piece of dry toast – but the fun kind with an outline of the Virgin Mary burned into it to make it interesting and a bit alarming.

So let’s get started then.

What’s a Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced and emitted into the atmosphere. This can refer to a business, individual or country. These greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere and trap heat. BINGO. You have global warming and climate change because heat from the earth can’t escape the atmosphere.

The good news is if we continue on like this we won’t need to travel to tropical destinations for vacation because wherever you live will be a tropical destination. Also you’ll possibly be dead. So there’s that.

Your personal carbon footprint is a reflection of how good or shit you are in terms of controlling the greenhouse gases your life/lifestyle emits. A BIG carbon footprint means your particular life leads to a lot of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A small carbon footprint means your life barfs fewer greenhouse gases into the air.

How big or small your carbon footprint is is based on the amount and how you travel, how much energy your home uses, how much shopping you do and what you eat. Among, ya know, other things.

So What are Greenhouse Gases?

Greenhouse gases are the bad things that block heat from escaping the atmosphere. They include Carbon Dioxide (from burning oil, coal or gas – think heating/cooling your home ), Methane (from the production and transport of oil, coal and gas and livestock – think cows/beef/sheep/goats ), Nitrous Oxide (agricultural fertilizers, and poop – again thinking livestock raised for you to eat ) and Fluorinated gases (from refrigerators, car air conditioning, foam production and aerosols ).

In very general terms the more you heat or cool your home, the more meat you eat, the more you shop & the more travel you do – the greater your carbon footprint.

non-expert but logical analysis by me

If you have your air conditioner set so cold you look like Jennifer Aniston in an episode of Friends, then you are creating more greenhouse gases than someone who keeps the temperature more moderate.

Both Canadians and Americans have the Bigfoot of carbon footprints. Only outdone by Australians. That’s in terms of individual use. As far as countries go, China is the worst for emitting greenhouse gases, followed by the U.S.

Right now, average individuals in Australia, Canada and the US have HUGE carbon footprints, emitting 16-20 tonnes per person per year.

In order to stop the world from imploding – or exploding – we need to reduce that to 2 tonnes per person per year. Holy shit is right.

So how can you start to reduce your carbon footprint? Here’s how based on the 4 biggest culprits in your life: travel, energy use, shopping and food consumption.



  • Drive Less Cars are major emitters so before you hop in it to go to the store don’t. Either walk to the store if you can or just plan ahead so you’re taking ONE trip for several things instead of several trips for one thing each time.
  • Fly Less Even ONE trip in an airplane is monumentally bad. One flight from Toronto to Florida for example produces the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving for an entire year.

Can’t stop flying because (insert what’s probably a made up reason but justifiable in your head here)? Then you should try to do these things.

  • Fly direct. Flying direct might cost more but it uses less energy because there are less take offs and landings (where major emissions occur)
  • Fly during the day. I couldn’t begin to explain it but there are sciencey reasons why flying during the day produces less emissions.


  • Make the next car you buy electric. Just remember to scream wildly out the window as you’re driving because nobody can hear those cars coming.
  • Don’t fly.
  • When you fly vow to offset your emissions.

Offsetting your emissions basically means giving money to organizations that put money into funding green energy or reducing emissions in other ways. A lot of airlines give you this option when you buy your ticket. Honestly. It’s a thing.

Energy use


  • Turn your water heater down to 120 F / 49 C. Unless you’re using your bathtub to cook hard boiled eggs, you don’t need it hotter than that.
  • Turn your air conditioner up or your furnace down by 2 degrees.
  • Use an energy provider that has a green option (power provided by wind or solar) or use offsetting. In Ontario, where I’m from, a company called Bullfrog charges you a fee every month that they invest in green energy to offset the fossil fuel energy your home uses.
  • Finally switch to LED lightbulbs. Seriously. Where are you even GETTING regular old lightbulbs?? You bought cases of them when you heard the switch was coming didn’t you?
  • Unplug instead of turn off. (the television, coffee maker, any other appliances)
  • Use a laptop instead of a desktop computer (they use less energy.)
  • Trees and shrubs. Plant ’em around your house. They can cool your home so much that your air conditioner won’t need to come on nearly as often. And in the winter they protect your house from cold blowing winds.
  • Dry your clothing on a clothesline.

If you ever see a farmhouse on the prairies or anywhere with open land surrounding it you’ll notice the house is usually surrounded by trees. It’s to protect the house from blowing winds and sun. So be smart like a farmer. Insulate your home with trees and bushes.


  • Go solar. Solar panels, solar roofing shingles, solar lighting.
  • Make your home more energy efficient with insulation or new windows. Even just filling cracks with spray foam can make a big difference. But energy efficient windows, doors and skylights can make a bigger difference.



  • Choose natural fibres over synthetics for clothing.
  • Shop Fair Trade. That means looking for the Fair Trade logo on food and clothing. It means it was ethically made and sustainably sourced. Don’t worry. There’s nice Fair Trade clothing. You won’t have to dress like a drunk Sherpa.
  • Calm the hell down with your midnight online anxiety induced shopping binges. The manufacturing, shipping and disposal of that $10 pair of pants that you only wear once is contributing to climate change.

You and the environment are better off if you buy ONE good thing that lasts and looks good for years than succumbing to all the Instagram ads for what is basically disposable clothing.

At Christmas nobody wants to see your family sitting on a bed wearing matching plaid pyjamas anyway. I know. You thought we liked it. We don’t. We know you’re just a regular family that normally wears old tee shirts to bed. It’s O.K.

  • Buy used and vintage. That goes for everything. Clothing, tables, chairs, make up. Just kidding. You can buy new make up. Nobody wants you to get a rash or pink eye.
  • Fix stuff. K, you need to learn to fix your own shit or pay someone to fix it. Because throwing it out and getting a new one isn’t a good option. Also complain to companies about their shit products. Everyone knows that things aren’t made the way they used to be. The reason for that is so people throw shit out and buy new shit that will eventually break and the cycle continues with big companies making lots of money.


  • Stop shopping. Seriously. Just stop. Find another way to make yourself happy or reward yourself. Get a different hobby. Learn to make your own moonshine or make really awesome toilet paper covers or dog biscuits or something.


83% of your personal carbon footprint

is created by FOOD.

THIS is the place you can make the biggest impact on your carbon footprint.


  • Eat Less Meat That’s right. Just less meat. You don’t have to give up burgers or steaks entirely. If you eat meat 7 days a week just give yourself one meatless day in the week. If you already cut down on meat, do it some more. Or swap beef for chicken.


It takes a lot of feed, land and water to raise cattle. And they BURP endless amounts of methane into the environment. Sometimes they fart too, but it’s the burping that’s destroying us.

I swear to god if you had told me that cow burps were more dangerous than rusty old carnival rides I never would have believed you.

The effect of raising cattle on the environment is multifaceted. They take a lot of feed, water and land to raise and once raised they burp a LOT producing one of those sneaky greenhouse gases – methane. To raise the beef, forested land is often clear cut. This takes away the one thing in this world that’s silently working to reduce greenhouse gases: trees.

The creation of *one* pound of ground beef releases 14.8 pounds of CO2 in the the air.

One mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year.

The number one thing we want to do is reduce the amount of CO2 in the air. Trees do that naturally every second of every day. But don’t be fooled. Just planting trees isn’t going to fix this. We need to do other things too.

  • Grow Your Own The biggest contribution to greenhouse gases is in the production of food as opposed to the delivery of it. Eat food that’s in season and grow what you can at home. Growing your own helps reduce greenhouse gases produced by large commercial grow operations plus you aren’t hopping in your car to go to the grocery store as much. Also chances are what you’re growing is a Black Krim tomato as opposed to a 2,000 lb Black Angus cow. However, having backyard chickens is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint.

I know these seem like stupid little changes that’ll never amount to anything. Just because something seems insignificant doesn’t mean it is.

  • Don’t waste food. Like I mentioned above, food is probably the main source of your entire carbon footprint. Wasting food is like directly shooting all of the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere with a tee shirt canon for no reason at all.

Only buy what you need. 🥒 Make a menu for the week and buy the exact ingredients you need for that. 🍽 Rework leftovers into something new or suck it up and just eat leftovers.🍗 Scan your fridge every week to see what you need to use up before it goes bad. 🥜 Don’t impulse buy bulk if you can’t use it up.

If it comes in a container you could safely plummet over Niagara Falls in, you probably don’t need that much of it.


Become Vegan. Going vegan is the #1 way you can reduce the carbon footprint produced by your food consumption. By doing this you eliminate 2 of the biggest greenhouse gas culprits – meat & dairy.

Become Vegetarian*. That’s O.K. You’re not willing to give up cream in your coffee or scrambled eggs. Going vegetarian is still going to make a huge difference in your personal carbon footprint.

*Or you can be a pretend vegetarian like me. I eat meat, but only a couple of times a week.

Continue to eat meat but grow all of the other food you consume. Sounds hard and it is. But it can be done. I grow the majority of my own vegetables, fruit, dried beans and some of my grains on a 40′ x 40′ rented community garden plot. Throughout the summer I preserve everything for the winter. To be honest, by February I’m really sick of canned beans and root vegetables. #truth

6 Easy Things You Can Do TODAY

  1. Look through your fridge for food that’s getting old and use it.

2. Fill cracks in your house foundation and around windows with a can of that spray foam. The aerosol is bad and the foam component is bad. But it’s offset by the benefits of insulating your house.

3. Walk to the store instead of driving.

4. Turn your heat down or your air conditioning up by 2 degrees.

5. That sour cream container you’re about to throw out or recycle can be washed and used to store other stuff like your yogurt or roasted tomato sauce in the freezer. Which only needs to be set to 0 F / -18 C by the way. Stick a thermometer in your freezer and increase the temperature if it’s needlessly low. That’s a bonus tip for you.

6. Keeping your car windows rolled up so your toots don’t escape isn’t an efficient way to reduce methane. Turning the air conditioner in your car off and rolling down the windows instead is. If you do go for a drive today roll down the windows instead of blasting the air.

If you made it all the way to the end of this, thank you. It’s easy to think this is someone else’s responsibility. That someone, somewhere, won’t let the planet burst into flames. But it’s already happening. So clearly that approach isn’t working. For any of us.

You don’t have to change everything. But you have to change something. And you need to start doing it today. Don’t make it a bigger deal than it is. Nobody’s asking you to eat cow farts. Just eat a bit less meat, don’t buy garbage you don’t need and change your thermostat by a couple of degrees.

The action isn’t a big deal but the impact is.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.


  1. Vikki says:

    Gold Stars for you!! for this post. It takes so little for each person to make a difference. I’ve been working on these for 30 years now and I hope everyone joins in. One of the definitions of an adult is: the ability to postpone gratification. In the U.S., we don’t have many adults. Everyone is traveling, buying, consuming as fast as they can. They seem unable to deny themselves anything. Baby Boomers–the entitled ones—we have much to blame you for!!! Everyone–time to do what is best for the common good.

  2. Mary W says:

    I buy and eat yogurt almost every morning – plain, full fat, yummy NOT greek, yogurt. But I also make my own jellies and top it with them or a banana but normally, I cover the top of the mound with plain bran flakes. It has been my staple for a couple years and my grands have grown to love it, also. So making my own will be a treat – stove top method, mason jars, in towel in closed OFF oven or microwave. Can’t wait for my breakfast tomorrow.THANKS!

  3. Erin M. says:

    Holy hannah, some people need more science and less bullshit in their lives. Did it occur to any of the people announcing their departures that even if you don’t agree with 98% of scientists on the planet, that maybe doing some of these things wouldn’t be a bad idea in general? Because it’s just better to do? Oh, no, that would take that ‘logic’ thing that you’re flinging around like you know what it means or that you’ve actually applied it to this situation.

    Karen: keep rocking. All of these things are excellent ideas to help improve things on our poor planet. You’re still one of my favorites. *high five*

  4. Della says:

    Karen, thanks for the reminder. Have you watched the show, Kiss the Ground? Brings to the forefront the health of our soil. Even, home gardeners can gleam some insight and put it into practise in their small yards!

  5. Eden says:

    You haven’t lost me Karen.
    I’m with you now, more than ever. Thank you.

  6. Andrea Berneche says:

    Do I love you? Yes
    Do I agree with everything you said? No
    Did I get my panties in a bunch and threaten to leave? No
    Why? Because most everyone is doing the best they can most of the time with the information they have been exposed to… and there is soooooo much information out there -and a lot of it is conflicting.

  7. Mim says:

    Well done, Karen! One thing I would add for those who have a hard time even thinking about giving up meat is to switch to buying your meat from local farmers, who raise their own on a small scale, with far less ecological impact. I’m not saying their cows don’t fart, or that there is no carbon downside to small-scale farming, but you’re getting meat from animals who are treated well, grazed on grass, and in ideal circumstances, slaughtered humanely. Our sheep graze 8 months out of the year in organically-certified meadows and eat hay from those meadows in the winter. They rotate to new pasture every two days, constantly fertilizing and enriching the soil and assuring they have fresh, clean grass to eat. Fences and barns are powered with solar energy, water is from the spring. So my advice is to check out your local food sources – for vegetables as well, when possible – instead of factory farms. The difference in taste is amazing, and you’ll be helping the local economy as well as the planet.

    Thanks again, Karen. Don’t let the haters get you down.

  8. Aunt Diane from Streator says:

    I just started reading this blog 10 days ago. I really enjoy it! I do many of the things suggested. I only drive one day/week; I eat very few animal products; I’m trying very diligently to reduce food waste; I recycle, and I try to buy used, high quality products. I do these things because I want to do my part. Let’s not turn this blog into a political arena. Be nice, everyone! Do what you can. Do what you wish. But, do everything with love.

  9. Ada Berry says:

    Karen…you’re the BEST!!! Thank you!!! We all just need to be more mindful. No spider destroys its own web, no rabbit destroys it’s burrow.
    Keep on keeping on Karen.

  10. If only we knew this years ago, oh wait, we did. Sadly this will fall on deaf ears, like the DP’s of the world, just as it did years ago. All I can say is be ready when the time comes. Repent, the end is near, wash away your sins with Shining Waters Soap.

  11. Cheryl says:

    I love you and was worried that you were going to ignore the food aspect, so glad you went there! Our whole family has been vegan for 5 years now and we’re having a blast recreating all our old favourite recipes, it doesn’t feel limiting in the slightest.

    Our kids are in their early 20’s now and don’t feel like they can even contemplate having children or planning for a “normal” future. I don’t remember ever having to factor in losing everything to fire when deciding where to settle (we’re in BC). Time to get off our apathetic asses and make some changes!

  12. Susie says:

    I loved your post Karen. I’ve been around the block for a few years and if I took anything from this post it was to walk more, eat better, consume less etc. All of those things just add value to my life, while doing a small part for the environment. California is on fire here, I live and breathe it on a daily basis that is why I’m moving to Maine to a smaller home on some land that I can live my life as a true Gardner. This year my garden was the Pits because the heat in California is so bad that I didn’t feel right about wasting water to keep it alive. We also are in a drought here in California and this isn’t the place I was born and raised in anymore. It’s dirty. If you all want to see what a mess our planet is in, Come to California. I hope my grandkids have a planet to live in.

  13. Annie Vee says:

    I LOVED this! This is the first article on “carbon footprint” I have read to the end. I understood it completely and it was funny too. Thank you Karen for creating and sharing this very important message. I’m sharing it too.

  14. carla says:

    Thanks for the post Karen.
    It is not the cow that causes the detriment to our environment. It is how we have chosen to raise that cow to feed the masses that does. Regenerative agriculture incorporates the use of animals to rebuild our soil while growing our produce and the whole system benefits. We don’t need to go vegan/vegetarian. We can eat meat if we are supporting the farmers that feed us with regenerative agriculture practices.

  15. Brian says:

    Uh Oh. Ruffled a few feathers did you?? Like the proverbial goat herder “F*** one goat and you’re forever!!” I enjoy your posts and wit and creativity. I would love to install solar panels on my roof or hang clothes on an outdoor line. But unless you live in the country, a lot of communities have rules and regulations to prevent this. I understand you don’t want to see a subdivision full of personal wind turbines or someone’s thong or DD bra hanging on a clothes line(although some might). Keep on posting Karen.

    • Celia says:

      I use two laundry racks, usually set up in the bathroom, to hang my laundry. Doesn’t have to be outside, though of course it won’t smell like sunshine. Alas. But you can still do it.

  16. Debra Michaels says:

    I just joined your email list and am already sure it was a good decision! Thank you for sharing good information about the impact of food choices and food waste on our environment – there is so much to know, but your info will be an eye-opener for many readers. It’s amazing to me how many people who are truly concerned about reducing their/our carbon footprint are so casual about throwing away food – like it’s no big deal, they can afford it – but I believe they just don’t know the impact of this behavior. It’s not all that hard to make changes, in fact, it can be fun and challenging – not to mention better for your body. has several free online courses with loads of references and resources for as much or as little info you’d want on this topic. Keep up the good work, Karen!

  17. Nancy says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m a 20-year vegetarian working my way to being vegan (yep, it’s hard). It’s easy to get so discouraged by the climate change news so thank you for providing practical tips we can institute on a daily basis. I so appreciate you using your platform to educate people on this topic.

  18. Jane says:

    Just have to shake my head at the naysayers. Karen never claims to be a scientist. However, regardless of whatever fallacies that might be in her argument, climate change is real and the planet is in imminent danger, and you simply cannot argue with what she proposes how we as individuals can do to combat it. On the other hand, I believe the planet will eventually right itself somehow. And perhaps getting rid of the culprit, i.e., us humans, that harms it is the best and only way. Unfortunately, other living things will become collateral damage. 😢

  19. A friend and I were driving down an interstate highway one summer day.
    I looked at her dashboard temperature reading…85 degrees F.
    She turned off the highway and onto a shaded country road.
    I was astounded to note that within a half mile drive the temperature read 82F.

    To think that our modern lifestyle has no impact on climate change, is, in my opinion pure foolishness.

  20. Sandi Trussell says:

    Thank you. I live in B.C. and am surrounded by wild fires at this moment and it is getting worse by the day. Climate change is real.

  21. Oliver Coker says:

    Ditto Andrea

    Karen, please unsubscibe me, you’ve lost all my respect for your credibility

    • Jody says:

      Oliver, I believe you need to take personal responsibility and unsubscribe yourself.

    • Nancy Ann says:

      Now, Oliver…….credibility isn’t everything….she’s still funny, just not in this column. And she has lots of instructions about how to fix things. Most of the people on here are so far left, it’s amazing, either that or the righties don’t bother to argue.

  22. Janine says:

    Good points in the article. Nice to have some reasonably easy suggestions to keep our planet from melting and/or being engulfed with flames.
    I’d like to just mention that doing these things are important but MOST important is changing policy about climate emissions – so, stay politically informed and don’t back down.

  23. Lin says:

    How sad. I have been reading your blog and loving it for quite a while and really enjoyed your humor. I believe you have unnecessarily offended many people by labeling your post, “for logical people”. I am a logical person, I just have a different point of view than you concerning “climate change”. Yes it is real, it has been changing for eons and will continue to do so. I believe we should be good stewards of our planet but when we see the proponents of “climate change” flying in private jets to some event, it makes it a bit hard to swallow! Best to you and your family.

  24. Garth Wunsch says:

    BUY LESS – WASTE LESS! Really easy place to start. From the depression years – Wear it out, use it up, make it do… or do without! Eating less meat is a wise choice, but we can make that even better by sourcing grass fed, rotationally grazed beef. Purchase from farmers and market gardeners practicing Regenerative Agriculture (think organic on steroids). They’re the future and becoming more common. Feed lot cattle are an environmental disaster. Sourcing these things requires a bit of work, but the more we request and vote with our dollars, the more common it will become – and the price will come down. For a really good summary of how all of us intersect with, and influence the climate, please watch Walter Jehne link I’ve included. Also watch Kiss the Ground (Netflix) and Need to Grow (YouTube I think)

    Beef cattle, properly/naturally raised are actually carbon negative! Agriculture has been a huge driver of Climate Change, but has the potential to be the biggest, quickest, cheapest repair available.

    For us peons at home… learn how to practice no-till/no dig gardening. Every time we till our ground, we release the plant-stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Don’t pull your dead plants – cut them off at soil level to leave the carbon rich root where it belongs. Compost the tops and/or use them for mulch. Watch Dr. Elaine Ingham vids on YouTube.

    I used to be a climate change doubter, but no more! The evidence is too great, but the good news is that WE CAN FIX THE MESS WE’VE CREATED… if we want to.

  25. Lise says:

    Thank you, Karen for this post. This is my 50th year as a vegetarian. When asked “why?” throughout the years I’ve often responded with your description of what the cost to our planet is to raise beef. It was always met with a puzzled look when I didn’t rant on and on about the treatment of animals. Yes, that is also an important issue, but the inefficient use of our planet’s resources should resonate with all. That this was known for years and ignored is beyond belief. Well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *