It starts with me: 9 WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

May 9, 2019

(Credit: @ketones6000 & @blankwallscollective) 

 

The starkest wake-up call on climate change the UK has ever known has been delivered in recent weeks.

 

We’ve entered a period of abrupt climate change. At a recent rally schoolgirl Greta Thunberg said: “We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with up to 200 species going extinct every single day.”

 

Last week the UK declared an Environment and Climate Emergency, thanks in large part to the relentless campaigning of Extinction Rebellion, speeches by Greta Thunberg, Youth Strikes and David Attenborough’s recent programmes Our Planet and Climate Change. 

 

(Credit: @gretathunberg)

 

Though campaigners and the government are in crucial dispute around timings, they’re in agreement that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero – the government’s aim is by 2050, Extinction Rebellion say 2025 is achievable.

 

As Extinction Rebellion so succinctly put it: “It is time to stop thinking about what is ‘feasible’ – now is the time to do what is necessary.”

 

Global temperatures have already risen by an average of 1 degree Celsius and experts warn we have just 11 years to prevent an irreversible tipping point whereby coral reefs could be wiped out, Antarctic ice sheets melt bringing rising sea levels and flooding and crop production is impacted. 

 

Reversing and halting the damage is a mind-blowingly big endeavour but collectively, if we take bold individual steps, we can start to be the change we want to see.

 

 

Here’s our top 9 STEPS TO REDUCING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

 

 (Credit: @daru_57)

 

1. FLY LESS!

 

If you travel for work, make better use of video conferencing tools like Skype and Facetime. Take vacations closer to home or take the train. If you must fly, fly shorter distances, fly economy class, fly less and offset your carbon. A return flight from London to New York equates to almost a quarter of the average UK individual's annual emissions.

 

 (Credit: @francowildlife15)

 

2. EAT LESS MEAT AND DAIRY

 

Raising animals takes a lot of resources, in some cases vast areas of forest are cleared for agriculture and grazing. Scientists say avoiding meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on earth. 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from production of meat and dairy.
 

 (Credit: Abraham Cabezas. @towerclimbinggreasemonkeys)


3. CHOOSE LOW-CARBON ENERGY

 

Choose low-carbon energy providers and insulate and seal your home.  Look for the Energy Star label when choosing electrical products so you opt for energy efficiency and avoid using high-emission processes like tumble drying.
 

 
4. LESS DRIVING MORE PEDALLING

 

Ditch your gas-guzzling vehicle and switch to pedal power! When you do need to use a car, hire instead or sign up to a car share and opt for electric. Although the manufacture of electric cars may produce more emissions than the vehicle uses in its lifetime and charging electric is likely to use some energy from a coal or gas power station, electric cars are much more efficient and, if treated as a shared resource, should lead to lower CO2 emissions overall.
 

 
5. THINK LOCAL

 

Shop local and choose locally-made or grown produce. Walk or cycle to your community businesses, bring a reusable bag and choose products which aren’t wrapped in plastic, haven’t travelled long distances and opt for seasonal, local fruit and veg.  Getting out and about and meeting people in person is better for the soul anyway and much more of the money you spend makes it back into the local economy.

 

 

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6. COMPOST !

 

Use the compost bins provided by your local council – don’t throw biodegradable food into landfill; it releases methane. Composting on the other hand prevents the release of methane, which is one of the most potent greenhouse gases.
 

 (Credit: Re:Store zero waste shop, Hackney)  


7. CHANGE YOUR CONSUMPTION HABITS

 

Only buy what you need and forget fast fashion! Make use of zero waste shops such as Re:Store in Hackney Downs or Bulk Market in E8, where you bring your own containers to fill and try not to throw away food. The food we eat has a massive environmental impact – processes like packaging, shipping, storing and cooking all contribute to climate change. Reducing food waste is one of the best ways to help reverse global warming. Choose ethically-made clothes and those made to last over a cheap, high-fashion throwaway culture and, better yet, buy second-hand.  An estimated 5% of greenhouse gases comes from the fashion sector.  Emissions come from fertilising of cotton crops, manufacturing, transporting and packaging.

 

 
8. THE THREE R's

 

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Put simply, consuming less, making use of the items we already have, sharing, swapping and repairing can massively reduce the greenhouse gases associated with making new items. 

9. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU BUY


Rethink your attitude to spending. Choosing environmentally-sustainable products, opting for refill shops, local butchers, bakers, greengrocers and fishmongers might cost a little more in the short term but, if you make small adjustments to other aspects of your life (waste less and start recycling or reusing instead of throwing away and buying new), you can recoup any additional cost.  Shopping ethically might mean recalibrating our expectations about what’s a fair price to pay.

 

If you like this article and want to help spread the word please share on Facebook and Twitter.
 

 

Did you know?

 

  • One T-shirt may have caused equal emissions to a couple of days’ typical power consumption

  • 70% of the deforestation of the Amazon is to provide land for cattle ranches.

  • Livestock farming accounts for around 20% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

  • According to Apple, 80% of the carbon footprint of a new laptop over its lifetime comes from manufacturing and distribution – not use in the home. So, repairing electrical items can bring massive reductions in emissions.

  • If every UK householder with a tumble dryer dried one load of washing outside each week, instead of by machine, they’d save over a million tonnes of CO2 in a year.

  • The average British household throws out a third of the food they buy.

 

Check out this carbon footprint calculator: www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx

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