Concerns over the environment are trickling down into many areas of life. An important topic in the current age — particularly with the UK government announcing its net zero plan that will contribute towards a greener, more sustainable society — is our carbon footprint.
It’s often in the news that companies must reduce their carbon footprint to help save our environment. However, what can we be doing in our everyday lives as individuals to play our part? After all, the world has a population of approximately 7.8 billion, so every individual counts.
Here, David Taylor, head of corporate affairs and innovation at Flogas, shares some simple tweaks that we can all make to our lifestyle that will help us reduce our carbon footprint.
Know where your food is from
Changing where you source your food from can be a huge part of cutting your carbon emissions. Sourcing produce from local areas or farmers' markets is a great way of improving the impact on the environment from your food bill. Even better, if you have a spare corner of a garden or patio, why not grow your own vegetables? That way you’ll get rid of unnecessary waste packaging, reduce the chemicals and pesticides used and remove the need for long-distance transportation of produce, which relies greatly on high-carbon fossil fuels.
Reports in 2014 stated that Britons are wasting £2 billion a year in appliances on standby — a bad habit that many of us have, which has essentially become the norm. But the majority of us are unaware of the negative effects both environmentally and financially.
It’s much more eco-friendly to turn off your appliances and phone chargers than leaving them draining unnecessary energy. And all you have to do is flick the switch. All of your electronics and appliances plugged in over time adds up to a lot of wasted electricity, and around £30 a month for you.
Go off grid
Going off grid doesn’t necessarily mean selling your home and upping sticks to a forest to live in a hut. Around four million households are off the gas grid and rely on alternatives like LPG bulk tanks to heat their homes. LPG (liquified petroleum gas) is better for the environment than traditional fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
Taking fewer flights can help reduce your carbon footprint significantly — a flight from the UK to New York can equal almost a quarter of a person’s annual emissions. If you’re planning a trip, consider getting a train or maybe cutting down on how many holidays you’re having a year. Train expert The Man in Seat Sixty-One worked out that taking the Eurostar from London to Paris instead of flying reduced carbon emissions by a staggering 91 percent!
Similarly, try to reduce your annual mileage. Cutting down from 15,000 to 10,000 a year per vehicle can save over a tonne of CO2, which equates to roughly 15 percent of an average person’s carbon footprint. Take public transport where you can.
The 5 Rs: Refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle
Instead of buying, buying, and buying some more, refuse purchasing things that you don’t need. Everything that is manufactured has some form of impact on the planet, and often consumes more energy than actually using it. Apple claimed that 80 percent of its carbon footprint of one of their laptops comes from producing and distributing it, not using it at home.
All it takes is saying no, but if you truly need something, try to reduce your consumption to some degree. Slow down on those impulse purchases you love so much. Reuse what you buy, because the next place it is heading to is the landfill or our oceans. Earlier generations did it, so we can too. Repurpose what you own instead of throwing it out or buying something else to replace it. Want some shorts but have several pairs of jeans in your wardrobe? Try making yourself a pair yourself! When you’ve exhausted all options, recycle where you can. Metal, some plastics, wood, cardboard, paper, and electronic waste can all be recycled. Research what you can and can’t recycle and find suitable recycling stations near you.
Taking small steps is a positive start to reducing your carbon footprint. You don’t have to completely change your life but be more mindful of your consumption and waste, and you really can make a difference.