Keeping California Clean: How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Keeping California Clean: How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

By Rachael Medina
Staff Writer May 11, 2020

As communities across the world and in California mitigate health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not encouraging any travel or social activities during this time. We will, however, continue to shine a light on and celebrate the many beautiful aspects of our State with the intention of being a source of inspiration and joy during this difficult period. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

One way to make a positive difference in the world is to reduce your carbon footprint, but it’s not always easy to lower your impact, even if you avoid flying and driving as much as possible. The truth is, a carbon footprint is the culmination of every aspect of life—not just transportation—leaving plenty of room for improvement. 

What is A Carbon Footprint?

Your carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases generated by your actions, including all the carbon emissions that enter the atmosphere thanks to your individual decisions. What you eat, how you make purchases, how much water and electricity you use, and how you dispose of items at the end of their lifecycle all influence the amount of carbon emissions you release into the atmosphere. So, making conscious decisions to lower your impact can make a huge difference. 

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Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Since every decision we make impacts our carbon footprint, it’s incredibly easy to decrease it. Swapping single-use plastic water bottles for a reusable glass bottle, riding a bike to work instead of driving, and choosing to eat one less serving of meat per week all help to reduce your carbon footprint. Here are a few other things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint—and support California–based businesses in the process.  

Choose plant-based dishes over meat-centric meals to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health.

Eat More Plants


About 14 percent of our carbon emissions come from food, with the majority coming from animal proteins. Beef, lamb, and dairy products are the largest polluters, so choosing plant-based alternatives can make a huge difference in lowering your carbon footprint. While adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet makes the largest impact, even small changes can help. Luckily, the Golden State is home to a wide variety of produce options, so it’s easy to incorporate different veggies into every dish.

Whether you want to try intermittent fasting, a pescetarian diet, or a flexitarian lifestyle (where you primarily eat vegetarian foods but occasionally allow room in your diet for meat), now’s the perfect time to give it a shot.

Support California farms and help the planet by buying produce from your local farmers market instead of the grocery store.

Choose Seasonal, Local, and Organic Foods


California has an abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables, making it possible to eat seasonally. Many grocery store chains have dedicated sections for local goods, but
visiting your neighborhood farmers market is a more direct way to support farmers and eat hyper-seasonal, organic ingredients. Since the produce doesn’t have to travel very far from the farm to your table, the carbon emissions associated with it are much lower, too. 

If you don’t live close to a farmers market, many farms offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes that can be mailed straight to your door, so you can still support locally owned farms.

Replace single-use plastics for multi-use alternatives such as these reusable silicone bags from Stasher. Photo courtesy of Stasher.

Ditch The Plastic


I know, this is a big one. Plastic has infiltrated our entire lives—bags, water bottles, takeout containers, and protective wrapping are made of it—but ditching plastic is one of the easiest ways to make a change. You don’t have to give up all plastic to lower your impact; simply increasing your awareness of your plastic usage is a great first step. 

You may be wondering, Why is this so important? Well, it typically takes a whopping 1,000 years for plastic to decompose in a landfill, and because most plastic items aren’t recycled, they end up in the ground. So, start making changes with some of these incredible products from Golden State brands: 

  • Swap single-use plastic baggies with multi-use alternatives from Emeryville’s Stasher bags.
  • Replace single-use coffee cups with San Francisco’s Soma mugs.
  • Trade out plastic water bottles with a glass bottle from San Francisco’s Bkr.
  • Rethink plastic food containers and opt for Pleasanton’s MIRA Brands metal versions.
  • Choose paper bags at the grocery store or—better yet—bring reusable bags.


When it comes to plastic, there are unlimited ways to decrease carbon footprint, so figure out what items you use most and make incremental changes to remove single-use plastics from your life.

Pickle vegetables and certain fruits to make them last longer and cut down on your food waste.

Reduce Food Waste


Food waste is a huge problem. So make sure to buy only what you need, freeze or pickle what you might not use in time, and learn how to properly clean and store your produce to lower your chances of wasting large amounts of food. If you still have food waste, compost it using your local waste management company, or start your own bin to use in your
drought-tolerant garden

Interested in more ways to lower your impact on the planet? Purchase high-quality garments online from vintage and thrift stores instead of wearing fast fashion; shorten your showers to reduce CO2 emissions and water use; support local brands so items don’t have to travel as far to get to you; and when flying, purchase carbon offsets to lower your net impact. Above all, follow the five Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, and recycle.

What are your favorite California-based companies that help you reduce your carbon footprint? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Staff Writer
Rachael Medina

Staff Writer Rachael Medina

Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…

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