Climate change is a huge issue that everyone needs to play a part in tackling. There are many ways to get involved, including reducing your carbon footprint.
This article will explore what a carbon footprint is, how it impacts the environment, and ten ways you can reduce it.
What is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of actions from an individual or a company.
Often, you may not even know that your actions contribute to the size of your carbon footprint or the impact it can have on the environment.
How do carbon footprints impact the environment?
When referring to carbon footprints, we are talking about the amount of carbon emissions people are releasing. Carbon emissions impact the planet every single day and contribute to climate change and global warming.
One example of a type of carbon emission is carbon dioxide, which is released into the environment when fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) are burnt. When a large amount of greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere, it can stay there for up to 1,000 years.
Carbon emissions are one of the main contributors to climate change, which impacts weather events and the growth of plants and crops. Often, climate change alters natural habitats, which creates serious issues for animals who cannot adapt to the change.
How to calculate your carbon footprint
One of the easiest ways to calculate your carbon footprint is online. There are carbon footprint calculators that allow you to enter your information to understand your carbon footprint. WWF has a questionnaire that provides you with a result and knowledge about your entire environmental footprint.
Ways to reduce your carbon footprint
If you’ve calculated your carbon footprint and have decided it’s too high, there are many ways to reduce it.
Take a look below at the ten simple ways we’ve put together for you to reduce your carbon footprint.
1. Use the four Rs
The four Rs stand for review, reduce, reuse, and recycle. By following all four every day, you are bound to reduce your carbon footprint and curb your impact on the environment.
Specifically, focus on reviewing your situation, such as travel and home heating methods. These are huge contributors to the climate crisis. Any positive changes will make a difference.
2. Drive less
Cars, vans, and other road vehicles emit high amounts of carbon emissions. If you drive often, you’re likely going to have a larger carbon footprint.
By choosing to walk or ride a bicycle somewhere, you are immediately helping the environment with one less vehicle on the road. If this isn’t feasible, using a bus is still better, as multiple people are in the same vehicle!
3. Shop locally
Leading on from our last point, try to shop locally if you can. By buying local produce or shopping at local supermarkets, you are cutting down on a long journey. If you buy produce from a local shop rather than a chain, they will likely have a smaller carbon footprint. However, many big brands are trying to reduce their carbon emissions.
4. Explore energy options
Around 26% of our carbon emissions come from home energy. Ovo Energy suggests exploring the Green Homes Grant scheme to see if you are eligible for energy-saving home improvements.
Changes as simple as switching lights off, turning appliances off at the plug and swapping to energy-saving light bulbs can drastically reduce your carbon emissions.
5. Eat less meat
Animal products require a lot of water and other resources. If you can, try to move your diet to more plant-based foods. This way, you could actually be healthier and make a positive impact on the environment.
Meat consumption is also responsible for releasing greenhouse gas (such as methane and CO2), into the environment. Both these gases contribute to climate change, and in turn, global warming.
6. Start bulk shopping
Try to avoid short trips to the shop for “little bits”, it is better for the environment for you to do bulk shopping. Even if you just do one weekly shop, it will help.
By cutting out those unnecessary trips, you will avoid a lot more single-use plastic and cut down on carbon emissions of increased travel!
7. Try to avoid flying
It is almost impossible to cut out flying, especially if you enjoy travelling. However, there are ways to limit your emissions, and you can choose to fly less.
There are options in the UK for holidays, such as cabin staycations or just a week at the coast. Although these options are available, it doesn’t mean you can’t fly at all. If you can, try to opt for fewer trips where you must fly, but make them longer!
This way, you can experience more of the culture wherever you travel and have a proper break whilst simultaneously reducing your carbon footprint.
8. Conserve water
Reducing the amount of water you use is crucial. Fresh water is not unlimited, and at some point in the future, we may struggle to find any due to it being in glaciers and polar ice.
There are plenty of ways you can cut down on your water usage, such as taking shorter showers and not leaving the water running when you are brushing your teeth.
9. Declutter and organise
If your home is full of clutter, it can be less energy efficient! If you have boxes, furniture and clothes blocking windows, for example, you will struggle to maintain them and could be letting cold or warm air out.
If your house is full of things you don’t use – you can donate to charity (if they are in the condition to be donated) or appropriately dispose of them. If you have large items, consider hiring a skip; this way, you reduce the number of car journeys and lower your carbon footprint!
10. Support “green” organisations
Now more than ever, there is an increase in green organisations. This can mean brands that are consciously making an effort to be greener and reduce their carbon footprint.
In Leeds, there are a plethora of zero-waste shops that positively impact the environment and help with the larger plastic pollution problem.
Here are some zero waste shops to try in the Leeds area: