Modern living makes reducing your carbon footprint to zero virtually impossible. Even if you walk everywhere, you’re contributing to carbon emissions by switching on a light or tucking into a meal. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t do your little bit to make a difference.
By going about your daily life in a slightly different way, you can reduce your carbon footprint and play your part in saving the planet.
1. Drive less
This is the simplest and most effective change you can make to cut your personal carbon emissions. If you’re a driver, take public transport to work whenever possible. Even if you can’t, cut your journey short by parking a mile or so from your workplace — and walk the rest of the way. Consider creating a work carpool, so you only drive to work once a week instead of five.
You can get fit and save the planet at the same time by using a bicycle for transport. Or you can simply do more walking, which will save you money too. Always look for alternatives to your car. If you can cut your usage by just 10 percent, that will make a big difference.
2. Eat better
The food we eat leaves a huge carbon footprint. Every time we go to the supermarket, we’re contributing to global carbon emissions. All of the food in the supermarket is transported by road, using diesel or petrol. And we often use our own fuel to get there. Wherever possible, buy local, fresh produce. Not only does processed food travel long distances, each component part must be transported to the processing centre too. And the techniques used to make these products use enormous amounts of energy.
An easy way to cut your carbon footprint is to shop at your local farm shop, and cook your food from scratch.
3. Drink tap water
A recent study discovered that there are tiny plastic particles in some bottled waters. Not only is this a health issue, it’s an issue of plastic waste too. This is a no-brainer — switch to tap water. Or if your water doesn’t taste all that good, buy your water in bulk.
4. Shop smarter
All packaging leaves a large carbon footprint, so avoid it wherever possible. If you’re in the supermarket, for instance, buy loose foods — and don’t use plastic bags for storage. And always opt for biodegradable packaging such as cardboard or paper.
You can also reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing second-hand furniture, gadgets and appliances. Shop around on the Internet, visit local markets and check out car boot sales for stuff you can recycle, upcycle or simply use straight away.
5. Borrow stuff
Do you really need to buy your favourite newspaper when your neighbour gets it delivered every day? Join the local library to get your books, or join a local book club where people swap their old novels. If you’re buying something for just one or two uses, always look for someone who will lend you it.
6. Don’t throw away electronic gadgets
Electronic gadgets are very difficult to dispose of safely. Not just that, the carbon footprint created when making new gadgets is significant — so always try to get as much use out of them as possible. If you’re determined to buy a new gadget, there’s always someone who will put an older gadget to great use.
7. Wrap up
While sitting around the house in a T-shirt during the height of winter might feel great, it involves unnecessary heating. Instead of turning your heating up to 11, why not put a jumper or cardigan on instead? This will cut your heating bill, and drastically reduce your personal carbon footprint.
8. Clean green
There’s virtually nothing in your home you can’t clean with natural substances such as white vinegar, baking powder, lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide. Using homemade cleaning agents not only cuts your use of carbon-hungry chemicals, it reduces your reliance on consumer plastics.
Just a few changes here and there can make a difference to the planet. But if we all make the same changes, we can drastically reduce carbon emissions around the world.