The need to respect and preserve our natural resources has never been more urgent. We all know it’s vital to reduce our carbon footprint as part of the effort to bring climate change under control, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin.
Here’s our handy guide to point you in the right direction.
What Exactly Is a Carbon Footprint?
Harmful greenhouse gases (particularly carbon dioxide and methane) prevent heat from escaping the atmosphere, leading to rising temperatures. Your carbon footprint measures how much greenhouse gas you produce, as an individual, household or organisation.
There are many sources of carbon emissions, including:
- Food production
- Energy production
Carbon emissions occur everywhere and on a huge scale. Ultimately, the solution lies with governments and organisations globally, but there’s a great deal we can do as individuals to help.
Cut Down on Travel
When petrol is burnt it produces carbon dioxide in vast quantities, so cars, lorries, aircraft, trains and ships are constantly churning out noxious gases. Wherever possible try and minimise car use by cycling, car-pooling or even walking.
Holidays spent at home or at least in the UK are becoming more popular. This is partly due to the pandemic but it certainly helps cut down on harmful plane travel. Maybe, think of doing less of that in future as well.
Is Your Energy Green?
Many people have their own solar panels at home to create clean (renewable) energy from sunlight. Wind and water can also do the same job and these methods drastically decrease your carbon footprint as traditional forms of production rely on steam turbines powered by petrol or coal.
Not everyone has the means to generate their own power but happily, many energy providers offer renewable energy options, so it pays to shop around.
Cows and Sheep – Cute but not better than trees.
Meat and dairy production accounts for some of the biggest carbon footprint globally (even bigger than vehicles!). Sheep and cows produce an alarming amount of methane and they need a lot of living space. This leads to deforestation of places like the Amazon rainforest for agricultural land. A disastrous move as trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen.
By eating less or no meat we can significantly reduce the harmful consequences of rearing livestock.
However, it is not a black and white issue (no pun intended!) as stopping eating meat and switching to fruit and vegetables imported from across the globe is also carbon heavy.
Cutting down on your meat and using local, organic and highest welfare meat is a good compromise.
We should remember that fruit, vegetables and pulses all need somewhere to grow as well, and that all land must also be tended carefully.
Locally produced seasonal food has a much lower carbon footprint as it hasn’t been transported from afar and it isn’t forced by chemicals to grow out of season – better for the land and the consumer.
Avoid Pointless Packaging
We’ve all wrestled with an item trapped within layers of packaging. Usually, it’s completely unnecessary and has been produced by methods that release more greenhouse gases. And all too often it can’t be recycled.
Always look for items with minimal recyclable, biodegradable packaging where possible.
Recycle and Reuse
So many things can be recycled – clothes, electronics, garden waste, glass, plastic and paper for starters. However, a lot of recycling still ends up in landfill, so, if possible, ensure it goes to good homes, maybe by donating to charities or schools for example.
There is a lot that needs to be done. But every little action we each take has makes a difference. We might not be able to change the world overnight, but we can start heading in the right direction.