12 ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Published by Georgia Crump on

Reducing your carbon footprint might sound daunting, but it’s not as hard as you might think. Here’s 12 simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint and have positive impact on the planet in your daily life. 

Climate change is the biggest crisis facing our planet today, and many people are worried their carbon footprints. With no single solution available, it can be hard to know what any individual can do to make a positive difference. 

What is a carbon footprint?

Although large scale action requires the intervention of countries and governments, there are plenty of things that individuals can do in their daily lives to reduce their carbon footprint. In the UK, the average carbon footprint is 5.2 tonnes, but this would quickly come down if we all made a few simple changes.

Transport

Transport is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions by individuals, and also one of the easiest to change, simply by reconsidering how you get around. 

Fly less

Many of us hop on planes for business or holidays without considering the consequences for the planet. Out of transport types, mile for mile flying has the most damaging impact on the climate. 

Consider instead a staycation in your own country, or travelling internationally by train. “Slow travel” by boat or train is one of the hottest trends of 2020. Make the journey part of the experience, rather than a means to an end. 

Ways to reduce your carbon footprint with travel

If flying is unavoidable, offset the carbon emissions of your flight. This can be done through a monthly subscription that takes into account the amount of flights you take, or a one off payment. 

Read more: Carbon offsetting your flights: A guide to doing it right

Cycle more

Not only does cycling produce no CO2 emissions, it also takes cars off the road that would otherwise add to pollution and congestion. It’s also a great way of staying fit and healthy. 

Public transport is also a good alternative to driving, with the positive result of fewer cars on the road, so less polluting gases. 

Drive less, drive smarter

If you have no choice but to drive, there are some things you can do to reduce your emissions. 

  • Consider a hybrid or electric car. Several comparison services exist to compare the efficiency of different vehicles.
  • Make sure you’re not carrying excess weight, which reduces fuel efficiency.
  • Don’t drive like a Formula 1 racer. Going easy on the pedals will reduce your emissions. Slowing down by 10kmph can improve fuel consumption by as much as 25%. 

Improve your carbon footprint with what you eat

The impact of your diet on the environment is not just about how many steaks you’re getting through, it’s also about making informed decisions about what you put on your plate and where it’s coming from. 

Meat Free Mondays 

The meat and dairy industries are huge contributors to global warming. Red meat in particular has 100 times the impact of plant based foods on the environment. 

This doesn’t mean you have to go full vegan immediately, but consider a few easy swaps in your diet such as switching cows milk to oat milk, a veggie burger rather than beef. Initiatives like Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary can provide great incentives to help you kick-start a more environmentally friendly diet.

Eat seasonal produce

In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions from production, there is also an environmental impact associated with transportation. Flying those bananas from Colombia will do a lot more damage than eating apples from your local farm. Next time you go to the shops, choose loose veg rather than ones wrapped in several layers of plastic, and make sure to check out what’s in season. 

Eat more plant-based foods to cut your carbon emissions

Farming fruit and vegetables out of season is much more energy intensive, so will have a bigger impact on the climate. 

Not only is variety good for our diets, but also for farmland. Farming the same crop all year round drains important nutrients from the soil, and gives the ground no time for recovery. By switching up what you’re putting on your plate you’ll be more in harmony with natural ecosystems. 

Waste less 

Globally we throw away around 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year, which is a third of what we grow. Having a quick look through your fridge to check what you’ve got before going to the shops. Getting creative with the parts of food we’d usually throw away can save huge amounts of food from being wasted. This would reduce the demand for food production, resulting in less carbon emissions. 

We love the Zerowastechef’s inspiring recipes for parts such as carrot tops and cheese rinds that we’d usually chuck. 

Cut your carbon emissions with thoughtful shopping

Invest in quality

When shopping, consider buying one item of really good quality that is going to last you for a long time. Buying fast fashion trends have high transport and carbon costs associated, not to mention more waste. 

There’s a wealth of independent sustainable producers out there which thanks to the internet are all available to us at the click of a button. Consider whether you could spend a little more on an item that you know has been produced sustainably and in an environmentally conscious way. Companies such as Lucy & Yak have committed to offsetting their carbon emissions, and supporting businesses like these encourages others to do the same. 

Shop vintage

Choosing to purchase your clothes second-hand hugely reduces carbon emissions, as well as sending a clear message to fast fashion companies that we will not support them. Look out for Facebook clothes swaps and sales where you can snag a bargain and often locally too. 

Buy second hand clothes to reduce your carbon emissions

Reduce your carbon footprint around the home

From switching the lights off to switching energy providers, there are plenty of things you can do to improve the carbon efficiency of your home. 

Turn it off

As well as turning off the lights when you leave a room, think about turning off the heating when you’re not there, and at night when you’re snuggled under the duvet. For devices like your TV and computer, it’s better for the environment to turn them off completely at the wall rather than leaving them on standby. 

Additionally, replacing your light bulbs with LED lights will use around 85% less energy and last longer, meaning you won’t have to change them as regularly. 

Switch energy providers 

Renewable energy sources and availability have taken huge leaps in recent decades, making it easier to switch to sustainable energy sources than ever before. This will help you to reduce your carbon footprint. Companies like Bulb make the transition easy and will help you monitor your home’s carbon emissions. 

You might also want to think about investing in making your home more sustainable by improving your insulation. If you’re planning to move house, check out the energy efficiency rating of properties. This will not only help your carbon footprint but save you money on bills. 

Recycle

Check what recycling is offered by your local authorities and then make sure you have all the right bins. Containers say whether or not they are recyclable, and make sure to clean the containers before you pop them in the recycling. 

Ways to reduce your carbon footprint with recycling

And finally… If you’ve got a garden, why not plant some trees. Trees intake carbon dioxide and release oxygen, combating our own carbon emitting behaviours. 

If you’re interested in a breakdown of your carbon footprint, use this handy carbon calculator.

Subscribing to Treepoints can help you greatly reduce your carbon footprint by supporting the world’s most effective carbon reduction programmes – from reforestation in Panama to solar energy in Chad. 

Check out our monthly challenges for green living for inspiration to make your lifestyle more sustainable. And make sure to follow us on social media for more tips and advice.


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