Climate change, which most experts say has now reached a crisis point, is mainly caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. Out of the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is the one most frequently emitted by our activities.
Whilst carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas we need to work on reducing, CO2 is the largest contributor to climate change because of its sheer quantity.
Other greenhouse gases of note include methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).
To simplify things, the potential of each greenhouse gas to cause global warming is assessed in relation to a given weight of CO2 so all greenhouse gas emissions are measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).
What is carbon footprint and why is it important to have a low carbon footprint?
Carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere directly or indirectly by a person, product, event organisation or even a single action, such as typing and posting the blog.
The lower or smaller the carbon footprint of a person or an action is, the better for the planet. A higher carbon footprint means stabilising the atmospheric carbon to the xyz parts per million.
What constitutes an average person’s carbon footprint?
As mentioned above, every single action or activity has a carbon footprint, some more than others. Since this blog is about reducing your carbon footprint, knowing the carbon footprint associated with certain activities, products or services could help us make a choice when we are thinking of reducing our carbon footprint.
In the UK, the following sectors are the highest CO2 emitters:
20 ways to reduce your carbon footprint
1. Calculate your personal carbon footprint
Whether you want to reduce or increase something, the very first step is to know where you are at the present moment. So to start working towards reducing your carbon, you need to know what it is at present. A good way to find out your carbon footprint is to use one of the free carbon footprint calculators online or use the incredible carbon footprint calculator here.
2. Fly less often
Aviation industry makes a significant contribution to global warming. They are merely meeting our demand for flights. If you fly less often than you currently do, you will be reducing your carbon.
3. Eat locally grown food
This is a tip that can apply to just about every area of life. Locally-grown produce takes less energy to transport and supports the economy where you live. If your household can switch to local and sustainable food for the kitchen, you can help save the planet and help local businesses.
4. Cycle or walk to work
The two of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel are cycling and walking. And, not only are they good for the planet, but they’re also good for your health. Where possible and if you can, choose to cycle or walk to work. Your employer might even have a scheme that can help you purchase a bike.
5. Choose organic
By investing in products from small-scale farmers, who practice organic methods of farming, you are genuinely supporting heroes who are fighting climate change.
6. Use energy-efficient home appliances
Make energy efficiency a primary consideration when choosing a new furnace, air conditioning unit, dishwasher, or refrigerator.
7. Turn off lights
Turn off lights you’re not using and when you leave the room. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED ones.
8. Switch to solar power
Solar power reduces CO2 emissions by providing a clean and renewable source of energy. The panels that are installed on your home collect energy from the sun and convert it into usable electricity. This process does not rely on fossil fuels and none of the energy is wasted because it can be stored on the grid for future use.
9. Plant Trees
We love trees. They not only look pretty , but are also vital for the health of our planet. They absorb carbon, offsetting harmful byproducts of fossil-fuel burning, and improve air quality by giving off oxygen, as well as providing shelter and safety for birds and other species.
10. Boil the amount of water your need
Most household kettles have 1.7 litres capacity or more. Sometimes, when we want to make a cup of tea, we fill the kettle up to capacity, for a cup of tea that is a fraction of 1/7 litres. Thin of the energy wanted to build water you do not need.
11. Capture and reuse water
A lot of energy goes into purifying the water that comes out of your tap. If you reuse and capture water such as rain, thereby reducing your tap water consumption. You will be reducing your carbon footprint significantly
12. Let your cloths works harder
If you buy a new shirt every 2 years for example, why not change that to buying a shirt every 3 years? Getting an additional 1 year from your clothes saves you money and reduces your carbon footprint.
13. Insulate your home
A well-insulated home reduces the amount of cool or warm air that can escape, and it also reduces the amount of energy needed to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
14. Be a conscientious consumer
Buying from companies that support a low-carbon future can reduce the environmental impact of your shopping habits in the long run
15. Donate excess food
If you have food that can go bad within the next few days, donate it to someone in need or a local kitchen.
16. Consider your meat consumption
Research suggests that farmers unsustainably raising the likes of cows, chickens and pigs for the food industry generates a significant amount of greenhouse emission. Make sure to buy your meat from a sustainable source with a transparent, ethical supply chain, locally where possible.
17. Grow your own vegetables
Reduce the distance your food is shipped by growing it at home.
18. Use a reusable water bottle
Plastic production leads to a lot of carbon emissions. Use reusable water bottles to reduce your carbon footprint.
19. Pay attention to packaging
When shopping, patronise stores or co-ops that keep packaging to a minimum. For example, you may want to go for loose tomatoes rather than boxed or plastic-wrapped tomatoes.
20. Dine with the family
Family gatherings are a good way to spend some quality time with loved ones, with very little carbon impact. Cooking and entertaining for larger groups is more efficient and, per person, a lot less expensive.