As our annual average temperatures are rapidly rising, it is increasingly important for each and every one of us – no matter where you live – to take big steps to reduce your carbon footprint.
There are so many worrying factors that are quickly escalating. But one of the biggest concerns is the rise in ocean temperatures which has caused mass coral bleaching. This means that many nurseries where little fish find salvage against predators have disappeared. In 2016, 30% of coral perished and another 20% in 2017. Just like our rain forests, the ocean is such a big part of our global ecosystem that we should do everything in our power to protect it.
What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint?
1. Switch to a Renewable Energy Contract
As roughly 27% of carbon emissions come from electricity generation, switching to a renewable energy contract at home or for your business will make a big difference. Globally most of our energy is still generated through fossil fuels. This is quickly changing as in the UK our renewable energy use surpassed fossil fuel for the first time in 2019. Be careful when evaluating suppliers as not all green energy contracts are equal.
2. Manage Travel Carefully
Reducing the number of long haul flights. Cycling or walking for trips under 1.5 miles and using mainly public transport are all ways to reduce emissions when getting around.
When it’s time to consider a new car, switching yours out for an electric version if you’ve followed step 1 above is a great idea.
In 2020 there has been a drastic reduction in carbon emissions from transport as people were forced to work from home.
If you own a business, you can encourage staff to work from home more often. This will reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint and potentially the amount of office space you require.
3. Eat Less Meat, Especially Beef and Lamb, and Buy from Regenerative Organic Farms
Industrially farmed beef is a big polluter, 1kg of industrially farmed beef produces?60kg of greenhouse gas, where 1kg of peas produces 1kg of greenhouse gas. Industrial farming also causes nutrient run-off, ground erosion, problems with pesticides and animal waste management. Regenerative farming, on the other hand, can be more sustainable.
Buying substantially less meat or switching to a mainly plant-based diet bought from regenerative and organic farms is the best option.
Be careful not to replace meat with over-processed meat substitutes. As these are created using industrial processes and are usually made from poor quality soy or other base ingredients that are harmful to you and the environment.
4. Plant an Edible Garden
Planting edible foods in your apartment or garden, if you have one, is a wonderfully sustainable and rewarding hobby. It will reduce the plastic packaging that your food comes in and the carbon footprint what you eat. There is nothing like knowing exactly where your food comes from and appreciating the labour of love that has gone into producing it. It won’t be travelling very far to get to your plate which is a win-win.
Read our beginners guide on Apartment Gardening for more info.
5. Buy Local, Seasonal, Organic and Regenerative
If you are buying fruit and vegetables it’s always best to buy as local as possible, seasonal, organic produce that comes from responsible farms who follow regenerative farming techniques. These techniques promote good soil health, increases the water-holding capabilities of the soil and stops pesticide use.
Buying food that is grown close to home means less travel time to your plate and fewer carbon emissions at the same time.
6. Unplug Devices to Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Most modern appliances that are plugged in and switched to standby mode still use electricity. When in standby mode devices can suck up to 23% of the average home’s energy use through the plug socket. Taking the simple action of switching appliances off at the wall will help you reduce your carbon footprint. It will save money and reduce the potential for electrical fires at home. Do not switch off your fridge or any other essential devices of course. Getting into the habit of switching your television and other non-essential devices off completely will save you in the long run.
7. Consider the Energy Credentials of Appliances
When you do buy new appliances, always consider their energy efficiency rating, especially if it’s a device you’ll be using regularly.
Your refrigerator, washer-dryer, oven and dishwasher etc all use a lot of electricity. Be mindful when it’s time to buy a new one.
New appliances, especially those sold in the EU, have to meet certain energy efficiency criteria which are worth considering when you can a new appliance rather than upcycling an old one. Do your research to make sure you are comfortable with the energy efficiency/saving waste from landfill trade-off.
8. Buy Less Stuff Overall
Not buying the latest tech, gadgets or fashionable items is better for your pocket and potentially mental health. You don’t have to upgrade every time a new phone or gaming console etc comes out. Skipping a generation won’t leave you behind, lost in an old fashioned gadget graveyard – you’ll be fine trust us!
Having less stuff will ultimately help you to reduce waste and your carbon footprint.
9. Don’t Support Fast Fashion Retailers
Most major fashion retailers are part of the fast fashion movement who increasingly aim to sell us must-have trends at low prices. It’s led us to believe that fashion is disposable as it’s so cheap that you don’t mind throwing it in the bin. Piles of clothing end up in landfill, and some retailers even incinerate their unsold stock, which is truly insane.
There have been widespread reports of child labour being used throughout the supply chain starting with agriculture and the growing of natural fibres such as cotton right through to the garment manufacturing process.
Then there is the production and dying of the textiles themselves that is responsible for water contamination throughout the developing world.
Overall the cost of fast fashion is just too high. We suggest buying less. Buying classic chic that lasts season after season, supporting sustainable fashion brands or buying second hand instead.
10. Avoid Processed Foods
The rise in popularity of processed food is directly correlated with the rise in obesity and health issues globally. These foods are made using industrialised processes that add ingredients to your plate that is harmful to your health and the environment. It’s generally packaged in plastic or other materials and adds to an escalating waste management problem. Even though processed foods and packaging only add 9%, give or take, of the overall carbon emissions from food production, it also adds plastic and toxins to the environment. Homecooked hearty meals, made from scratch are the best you can do for yourself and your family.
11. Refuse Single-Use Plastic and Recycle
Not only does plastic cause a massive waste problem it also has a high carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle. But it can be reduced to an extent through recycling.
However, less than 10% of plastic has ever been recycled. Single-use plastics often end up in the ocean, is sent to landfill to hang around long after you’re gone, or is incinerated adding to carbon emissions.
Avoiding plastic entirely is the best option here. Knowing which plastics are recycled in your area will help you make better decisions around the plastic that you can’t avoid buying. Shockingly nearly every seabird on earth is eating plastic, and it’s slowly killing marine life. Plastic can’t be digested which means the animal starves to death as it simply can’t consume any nutritious foods with a stomach full of plastic.
For more helpful tips read our 20 hacks for an eco-friendly house