How to lower your carbon footprint
What is a carbon footprint?
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by a person, business, or service. Carbon footprint is a good measure of how much impact you or an activity will have on the environment - in 2022, many people around the world are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, so they can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
How do you know what your carbon footprint is?
Every new product you buy, or journey you take will use greenhouse gases, and increase your carbon footprint. You can use a calculator to find out how much carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide your yearly life creates.
It’s a good idea to take a look at how much carbon is emitted by regular items you buy, and find out if there are any alternatives.
You might be surprised by how much carbon is emitted by everyday activities - but there are some easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
What are the benefits of reducing your carbon footprint?
Of course, one of the key reasons to reduce your carbon footprint is to do your bit for the environment. Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is the surest way to reduce the impact of global warming.
There are other benefits as well - reducing your carbon footprint can also save you thousands of pounds a year. Making a switch from single use to reusable items, such as coffee cups, plastic bags, and water bottles will quickly turn pennies into pounds.
Choosing to walk or take a train or bus can also save you lots of money whilst reducing your carbon footprint. If you choose to walk, you’ll also be improving your health; another great benefit of going green.
How can I lower my carbon footprint?
There are many ways to lower your carbon footprint, including:
- Reduce the amount of journeys you take fueled by gas. Avoid long plane and car journeys if you can, and take an electric powered train instead.
- Choose to buy sustainable clothes. Instead of fast fashion made of plastics, look for carbon neutral or organic clothes. (or even better, shop for secondhand clothes and give them another life.)
- Swap out meat for healthier vegetarian alternatives. Meat is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, so swapping out even one extra dinner a week for a veggie option will greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
- Buy local goods or services. Clothes, appliances, and products are usually shipped to your door instead of being picked up from a local shop. While easy, this is not sustainable. Instead of shipping an item to yourself, see if you can find what you are looking for at a shop near you. If you can’t, look for a shipping service that will offset the carbon created by your delivery.
How to make your home more energy efficient to lower your carbon footprint
A good way to greatly reduce your carbon footprint is to make your home more energy efficient.
This means looking at ways to reduce the amount of electricity or gas needed to power your home. Simple ways of doing this include swapping out high-energy appliances for more energy-efficient ones, which could be small appliances like light bulbs and kettles, or larger ones such as fridges and washing machines.
Another way to reduce your energy consumption is to switch to green energy. Installing solar panels can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Instead of buying energy from the grid, which is generated by fossil fuels, solar panels allow you to generate electricity from the free energy of the sun. This greatly reduces your carbon footprint, as well as saves you money on your costly electricity bills.
Insulating your home will also reduce your carbon output by making your home warmer, and requiring less energy to heat your home in the cold winter months. If insulating your home is too tricky, make sure you keep doors closed and look at purchasing draft excluders to cheaply insulate your home.
Upgrade your heating system
Replacing your heating system with a system powered by renewables will cut carbon emissions and save on your energy bills. Many environmental groups suggest moving away from gas heating systems, because of their reliance on greenhouse gases.
The lowest carbon option is to install a renewable heating system such as a ground source heat pump. Heat pumps are powered by electricity and are much more efficient than gas boilers.
If you can install solar panels as well as an electric heat pump, you’d be cutting out fossil fuels altogether!
If you’re looking for a new boiler, an electric energy-saving alternative will cut your carbon footprint in half.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Limiting the amount of energy you consume is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint.
The more energy you use, the more carbon dioxide you emit.
If you can’t limit the amount of products you buy, try to reuse whatever you purchase. For example, choosing to repair items that have worn out instead of replacing them will greatly lower your carbon footprint.
If you can’t repair something, make sure you recycle it. More products than ever can be recycled, so make sure you sort your rubbish, and give a second life to recyclable plastics, metals, and glasses.
What is a digital footprint?
We all use energy each day on electronics, and probably don’t even think about it. The internet emits 1.6 billion annual tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Recharging, sending information, and large downloads all require energy.
More than 50 million tons of e-waste were produced in 2019 alone.
It’s important to delete unnecessary information from the cloud, as digital storage uses more energy than you might think.
If you have large amounts of data that you don’t actually need stored in the cloud, deleting large files can be a simple way to reduce your digital carbon footprint.
Another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is to switch off plugs, and not leave your phones, laptops, or ipads on charge constantly. It might be tempting to always have your phone on charge, but once it reaches 100%, energy used after a full charge goes to waste. If you’re at home, only charge your phone or laptop once they get low on battery.