Downsizing our Carbon Footprint

News // October 25, 2023

The prospect of climate change can be daunting. It can feel like an issue too significant for us as individuals to tinker away at its solution. Thankfully, there are small actions we can take to combat severe weather, deforestation, rising carbon emissions, and overconsumption.

Come out to a FOW planting day this Fall! According to the UN Environment Programme, roughly 12 million hectares of forest are destroyed yearly, which accounts for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Planting trees is a meaningful way to combat deforestation; not only that, it’s fun for the whole family. Come out this Saturday for Halloween on Harvey Street, where we’ll be planting native trees and shrubs in Wissahickon-themed costumes! Register here.

With rising temperatures comes more severe weather, flash flooding being one of the examples that we see the most in the warmer months. While we might not be able to stop the sudden surge of precipitation, we can alleviate its effects by installing rain barrels and rain gardens to collect some of the downpours. The name of the game is controlling the chaos.

According to the United Nations, transportation accounts for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. The easy answer is: if you can walk, bike, or use another petrol-less mode of transportation, do! There are, of course, many health benefits to getting your steps in and spending time outside. Points if you can cut through the Wiss! But for longer trips, see if you can carpool or access your destination on public transport. Ride-sharing cuts down on emissions, too.

Eat more plants, waste less food. According to the University of Oxford, half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture, and more than three-quarters of this land is used for livestock production. This takeover of previously forested land has transformed habitats, threatened the extinction of 28,000 species, and is responsible for 11% of U.S. emissions, 36% percent of that figure is from livestock, according to Natural Resource Defense Council. Eating more plant-forward leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Don’t waste these precious resources: the food that we throw away rots in landfills and produces methane.

Vote with your dollar. Shopping sustainably can be expensive, but if you have the means, shop local, especially from your local farmers, support ethical brands (although they are few and far between) that are committed to lessening their environmental impact, and buy less. Resist the pressure to consume by investing in quality products that last. Waste is our great enemy in our fight against climate change, and responsibly consuming is a great asset. Supporting environmentally conscious businesses sends the message that ethical practices can equate to profits.

Support your local conservation and advocacy like Friends of the Wissahickon. FOW has been committed to protecting the Wissahickon watershed, investing in a more resilient urban forest by planting native trees and shrubs and implementing infrastructure that aids the effects of extreme weather. Become a member here today.

Photo courtesy of Brad Maule