Recycling and using public transit are fine and good if you want to reduce carbon footprint, but to truly make a difference, you should have fewer baby. It is the conclusion of a new study that researchers examined 39 peer-reviewed papers, government reports and web-based program to assess how an individual lifestyle choices might shrink their personal share of emission.
Many common choices such as washing clothes in cool water or substitute incandescent bulbs by light-emitting diodes have only a moderate impact (see chart, below). But four lifestyle choices had a major impact: to become a vegetarian, forgo air travel, ditch your car – and most significantly – have fewer children.
Eating no meat reduces an individual’s carbon footprint about 820 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year, on average, about 4 times the reduction they get by recycling as much as possible. (Emission generated from eating meat results, in large part, from a large amounts of energy needed to grow, harvest and process feed crops). Foregoing one round trip transatlantic flight each year would cut a person’s emission of CO2 down to 1.600 kilograms. Ditching their cars reduce emission by 2400 kg or 2.4 metric tons. And by choosing have one fewer child in their family, a person would trim its carbon footprint by a whopping 58.6 metric tons – about the same emissions saving as having nearly 700 teenagers recycle as much as possible for the rest of their lives.
Despite of effectiveness of four measures, neither the textbook in Canadian schools nor government reports or website in the European Union, USA, Canada or Australia highlight these choices, possible because most of them require such extreme change in lifestyle.