Ideas to Curb Carbon Emission that aren’t Stupid like Banning Mileage Programs

If you, like me, are conscious about the impact our travel has on the environment but aren’t stupid enough to think that banning frequent flier programs is scalable enough to make a dent on carbon emissions, here’s a list of other more meaningful and more scalable ideas to do something without giving up what we hold near and dear to our hearts. Travel.

Not that traveling less wouldn’t be a meaningful way to curb emissions. But I am a big proponent of you can’t really protect what you don’t know. It’s the same philosophy I hold in regards National Parks. They’re amazing, and worth protecting from the throngs of visitors crowding, destroying and polluting with their visits, but if they weren’t able to visit and enjoy, would they really consider it worth protecting?

So, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Reduce shower times.
  2. Avoid baths.
  3. Wash hair every other day.
  4. Upgrade to low flow faucets.
  5. Adjust thermostat to use less heating.
  6. Avoid air conditioning.
  7. Use public transport.
  8. Work from home more often.
  9. Buy fewer clothes.
  10. Buy locally grown groceries.
  11. Consume fewer exotic crops (coffee, chocolate).
  12. Reduce red meat consumption.
  13. Maximize laundry loads.
  14. Prepare larger batches of meals and portion out.
  15. Buy fair trade products.
  16. Switch to an electric vehicle.
  17. Petition your electrical company to invest in renewables.
  18. Recycle.
  19. Compost.
  20. Compact your recyclables to reduce transportation.
  21. Bring your own reusable cup to Starbucks.
  22. Avoid printing unnecessary documents.
  23. Choose online statements for your credit cards and bank accounts.
  24. Opt out of junk mail.
  25. Avoid single use plastics.
  26. Drink filtered tap water instead of bottled water.
  27. Plant trees on your sidewalk/property.
  28. Switch to in house solar power.
  29. Line dry your clothes.
  30. Drive a smaller car.
  31. Combine errands to make fewer trips.
  32. Refuse daily change of towels when staying in hotels.
  33. Improve your home insulation.
  34. Switch to energy efficient appliances.
  35. Turn off lights when not in use.
  36. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED ones.
  37. Reduce dairy consumption.
  38. Refuse daily housekeeping service when staying in a hotel.
  39. Avoid eating crops that consume too much water (avocado, almonds, pistachio).
  40. Avoid washing your car at home.
  41. Plant climate appropriate plants.
  42. Buy food in bulk.
  43. Use cruise control when driving.
  44. Replace beef with pork or turkey.
  45. Wash your clothes in cold water.
  46. Bring reusable bags when shopping.
  47. Vote for candidates who will implement sensible greener policies.
  48. Refuse plastic straws and lids unless necessary.
  49. Reduce food waste.
  50. Choose hotels that do not use travel sized toiletries.
  51. Avoid cruise ships.
  52. Switch to reusable diapers.
  53. Quit smoking.
  54. Pump your tires at the right pressure.
  55. Avoid holiday decorations (Christmas lights and trees, Halloween displays and decorative pumpkins, wrapping paper).
  56. Carpool with coworkers.
  57. Buy long-lasting, quality products.
  58. Swap from a desktop to a laptop.
  59. Consolidate items when shipping.
  60. Refuse disposable dinnerware.
  61. Downsize to a smaller home when an empty nester.
  62. Avoid upgrading your car often.
  63. Use an on demand water heater.
  64. Unplug unused electronics to lower standby power consumption.
  65. Regularly service your car.


Let us know if you have any other suggestions to add to this list!

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. I do 32 of these things and a handful don’t apply, like smoking, but, I still have a way to go.

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  2. Stop flying if you really think CO2 is an existential threat to humanity. It is the highest CO2 emitting activity a person can do. If you pretend to care about CO2 and still fly then you are a hypocrite.

    Most of this list are either things that a) normal, responsible people already do, or b) ineffectual, token feel good measures that don’t really do anything.

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    • Reality is that most people don’t actually do any or most of these things, and if that comes as a shock to you, then you should probably get out more and visit the midwest.

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    • Flying is less environmentally unfriendly than driving. From Slate:
      In 2010, flying burned just 2,691 BTU per passenger mile—an improvement of 74 percent since 1970. That was 43 percent better than driving the average car, which gets about 21.5 miles per gallon (4,218 BTU per passenger mile).* It was better than buses as well.

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  3. Eliminate mileage runs. They serve no commercial or community productive purpose. They are a selfish way to obtain limited privileges for a specific person. There’s no rationalization that supports them.

    Post a Reply
    • You do realize airlines don’t sell mileage runs. They’re not unlike any other ticket where airlines make a profit. There’s no community productive purpose for a million things and yet we aren’t banning them 🤷‍♂️

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  4. Agree with most. However bulk toiletries can be tampered with and unhealthy (one was found with semen in it) They are often not refilled by housekeeping or filled with cheaper products than they are labeled. Biodegradable single use toiletries are available and a far healthier choice.

    Post a Reply
    • Good point on the ease of tampering, hadn’t thought of it. As long as there’s a reduction of single use plastics, either of these solutions would be better than status quo

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  5. I do 47 of them. 4 don’t apply to me. I’ll pit my energy consumption footprint up against 95% of all Americans and win. I have friends that think they are the greenest people around, yet are actually people who do the least of the list: Huge houses, huge SUV’s. One even commutes to NYC every week from the Midwest while his 4000 sq ft house has only his spouse there for those 20+ nights.

    Post a Reply
    • Big houses and SUVs are the scourge of our time. I do think that even for those who do the most we can, there’s always room to evangelize those who are unaware of their inaction in this topic though 👌🏻

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