While reducing one’s own personal carbon footprint isn’t going to single-handedly solve the climate crisis, it doesn’t mean giving up and continuing to emit further emissions when certain lifestyle changes can reduce that impact significantly.
Personal actions can also help combat feelings of eco-anxiety as small things can lead to bigger change. Here’s how to reduce your carbon footprint on a day-to-day basis.
Obviously, flying less is a major step to reducing your carbon footprint – especially if you’re a frequent flyer or travel quite a long way each time.
Driving has a significant impact on your carbon footprint. To go without a car for one year could reduce your emissions by 2.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide – 41 per cent more than a return flight from London to New York.
Taking public transport, walking, or cycling, are good alternatives to driving, especially for short distances and trips to the shop. But, in rural areas and deprived communities underserved by public transport options, a car might be the only option to get around.
If you live in a city like London, there are many other ways of getting around that don’t involve a car.
If you have to use a car, spreading the carbon burden by sharing journeys with other people is a good way of keeping your footprint down, or if you can afford to, consider switching to an electric car. Even though electric cars are powered by electricity from fossil fuels, its overall carbon emissions are lower.
Buy less and buy local
Overconsumption is a massive issue in today’s world, contributing to waste and an increased carbon footprint due to shipping and transporting cheap goods across the world.
Fast fashion in particular, with dresses costing 30p from Pretty Little Thing, is very harmful to the planet. The fast fashion industry is responsible for 10 per cent of global emissions.
As such, one of the best ways of reducing waste and lowering your carbon footprint is to buy less and extend the life of the items you already have – climate action organisation Wrap says that extending the life of your clothes with nine months of active use would reduce your carbon footprint by 20 to 30 per cent.
If you do have to buy something new, one way of reducing your carbon footprint is to ensure you are buying from sustainable and ethical sources, and from local shops rather than giant conglomerates sending your items by plane or boat from hundreds of miles away.
Reuse and recycle
To stop buying things at all is not always possible or likely. So, when we do buy things, it’s worth thinking about their life cycles and how they can be reused in the future.
Buying reusable items rather than single-use ones is a good start, as well as considering whether the things you buy are made out of recyclable materials so that they can be recycled in the future when they do have to be thrown away.
Stop buying plastic
Another way of reducing your carbon footprint and waste is to stop buying plastic or items wrapped in plastic.
Therefore, thinking more carefully about your consumption of food and how much you’re wasting on a daily basis is a great way of reducing your emissions. Though not all emissions can be blamed on individual households, this is a small step towards fixing the issue.
Checking your fridge and cupboards carefully, planning out your meals, measuring your portions, and eating leftovers more regularly are great steps to reduce food waste.
Composting is also part-and-parcel of reducing food waste and your carbon footprint. One study estimates the greenhouse gas emissions released from food dumped into a landfill is seven times as much as the emissions from composting the same food.
Composting leftover food into a well-maintained bin that lets in oxygen will reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere.
Go plant-based or vegan
Becoming plant-based or vegan will have a massive impact on your carbon footprint and the climate as meat and dairy products are responsible for 60 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to research from 2018.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut out cheese or bacon completely, but there are a number of products out there for vegan and plant-based diets, and reducing your consumption of meat and dairy products could be extremely beneficial.
Make your home more energy-efficient
In the UK, over one-fifth of our carbon emissions come from heating and lighting our homes, and using appliances.
To do this, using heating controls to make sure you’re not using more than you need, upgrading your heating system to a heat pump if possible, insulating your home, and draught-proofing your windows and floorboards are good steps.
You can also look at replacing the bulbs in your house with lower-energy LED lights, as well as buying energy-efficiency appliances when your vacuum or toaster finally throws in the towel.