Although 71% of greenhouse gas emissions are reportedly from 100 companies, there are still ways that we can personally reduce our carbon footprint.
With the UK aiming to reach net zero emissions by 2050, what can we do to reduce our own impact on the environment in key areas of our lives for greener living?
Short-distance road transport makes up 11% of global emissions, so you may want to consider taking public transport or cycling. However, this isn’t feasible for everyone and if you can’t bear to part with your car, you might consider getting an electric car.
Not only are electric vehicles better for the environment, but they can be 114% cheaper annually than running a petrol-powered car. As the demand for electric/hybrid vehicles increases, so does the availability of charging point networks, making it easier than ever to stay charged.
Even if you want to travel abroad via plane, there are still ways that you can reduce your carbon emissions. By flying first class, you are using four times the emissions of an economy seat, so opting for slightly less leg room is better for the planet and your wallet!
You could also look to travel with airlines that have reduced environmental impacts, such as Air France or Ryan Air. In 2021, Ryan Air launched its carbon calculator which allows you to pay the carbon cost of your flight and uses the money to make a difference to communities in Europe and Africa through environmental projects.
So, you don’t have to give up your love for travelling if you want to go greener.
There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home. Insulating your home to make it more energy efficient reduces both your energy bills and your carbon footprint and can be as simple as draught-proofing your doors and windows. You can do this by sealing up any openings that could let cold air enter and warm air escape.
Another consideration might be smart heating controls which can save the average family up to £270 per year. Smart systems allow you to control the heating in your home via an app that ensures that your heating is not left on, wasting money, when it is not required.
By buying energy-efficient appliances, energy-saving light bulbs, or using more solar lights, you can easily make your home eco-friendlier – just be sure to turn them off and unplug anything you aren’t using.
Plant-based diets are becoming more mainstream and one of the reasons for this is the reduced impact that the diet has on the environment. A Nature Food study showed that up to 61% of greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by wealthy nations opting for plant-based diets. The ‘Meat Free Monday’ initiative encourages people to avoid meat just one day a week, noting that skipping meat for just one day a week can reduce your annual carbon footprint as much as not driving your car for a month. Their website is full of facts regarding meat reduction and how it can benefit the planet.
If giving up meat isn’t for you, simply supporting your local farmer’s market can help reduce your carbon footprint. This is because locally grown and reared produce takes less energy to transport. Opting for pork and poultry, regardless of where they have been produced, will result in a lower carbon footprint due to pigs and chickens not producing methane (a greenhouse gas).
The number of garments produced annually has doubled since 2000, and by 2014 exceeded 100 billion according to fashionrevolution.org. So, to reduce your carbon footprint you could try to avoid fast fashion as much as possible. In the UK alone, around 300,000 tonnes of used clothing are buried or burned in landfill every year resulting in carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gasses being released.
Rather than spending your hard-earned cash on cheap, poorly made clothes, why not try upcycling the clothes you already have but don’t wear? By slicing up your old and unworn clothes and stitching them back together, you can create a new, unique piece that you love.
If you’re not particularly handy with a sewing machine, there are other ways that you can reuse and upcycle your old clothes. You could try dyeing some unworn items your favourite colour to create something new or grab some fabric paint and unleash your creativity on an old pair of jeans! There are also lots of tutorials online that will teach you how to use old clothes to create household decorations such as plant hangers made from old t-shirts that would otherwise end up in the bin.
For the clothes that are still in great condition, but you don’t wear anymore, you could organise a swap party with your friends or sell the clothes online through sites such as Depop or green apps for reusing and exchanging clothes.
No matter what you choose to do, reducing your carbon footprint will help to ensure a cleaner and greener future for your generation, and generations yet to come.
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