Climate change is the result of increasing levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We are quite possibly the last generation who can bring about a change before the circumstances become irreversible. Collectively we stand a better chance of being successful, from individuals to businesses of every size, I think we all have a responsibility towards the future generations to look after the only home planet we have. The best way we can all contribute is to reduce our own carbon footprint.
What is carbon footprint and why is it important?
Our carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses we emit per year, as a result of both direct and indirect activities. It includes everything we buy, utilise, and consume. All emissions are usually converted to CO2 or equivalent to produce a carbon footprint, as per the Kyoto Protocol (an international agreement to limit and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the EU). The smaller our carbon footprint number is, the more we contribute towards a better future for planet Earth. A bigger number means that our activities release more greenhouse gasses and has a bigger negative impact on the environment and the condition of our planet.
There are many different ways to reduce our carbon footprint, from living an environmentally friendly lifestyle to offsetting the emissions we can’t avoid. I’ve listed just a few ideas from many to give an idea of how easily we can incorporate some of carbon reducing elements into our daily lives.
The first step is to find out what our current carbon footprint is. There are many free resources online to calculate our personal carbon footprint. One such resource is WWF FOOTPRINT
For every mile we walk or bike instead of driving, we reduce approximately 450 grams of carbon emissions. The exact figure would depend on the make and model of the vehicle we drive. Although I drive due to the type of work I do, I make a conscious effort to park up at one place and walk in-between my appointments. As we progress more into a sustainable way of living, better options of vehicles with less emissions are becoming a more viable option for many.
We can also reduce our emissions by travelling smart. We can try and reduce as much of our driving as we possibly can by scheduling our appointments, meetings and visits together on the same days, rather than multiple trips to the same location, and plan our routes accordingly. For every 1,500 miles of air travel, our individual carbon emission is approximately 306 kilograms, depending on the airline. We can explore options to fly with airlines that have the least carbon emissions. We can also try and consolidate a lot of business travels to reduce the number of flights we take per year.
Assess our home to identify areas where we can save energies being leaked out. From insulations, and weather stripping to sealing any areas where we feel a draft from the outside. We can switch as many lights to energy-efficient LED lighting as we possibly can. These little things will not only save us money but also reduce our carbon footprint.
For those of us we have a thermostatic heating system, by adjusting it to be 2 degrees cooler in winter and 2 degrees warmer in summer can reduce our CO2 emissions by approximately 910 kilos, depending on the size of the household and how often we have the heating on for. Luckily energy companies are on hand to help us out with a smart thermostat, which is Wi-Fi enabled and automatically adjusts temperature settings for peak energy efficiency. Many local governments and councils globally, now have incentives to contribute towards household energy costs as an incentive to install smart thermostats.
When it comes to replacing household appliances, we can opt for the most energy efficient models, yes, they may be a little more expensive to purchase initially but most of that cost is offset over a period of time from the energy they save.
Many appliances, including laptops, TVs, air conditioners, microwaves, etc continue to use power even when in sleep mode. Each device may use very little power, but collectively, it can amount up to as much as 10% of our overall household energy usage. Turning off the power at the socket to such appliance whenever it’s possible to do so, is the easiest way to reduce our carbon footprint from wasted energies.
We can explore options to buy food locally, from farm shops to local grocery stores. Many independent shops have a much-reduced carbon footprint than of the big supermarkets. We also reduce our own carbon emissions by staying local and outputting less emissions for travel.
Then there are the three important Rs... Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I’ll write a separate blog for the first two as a big part of those elements link to the fashion industry and include many factors. For this blog, most of the world is already accustomed to recycling, from individual households to businesses, the statistics of recycling has been increasing steadily, which is a fantastic thing. On an individual level, every little count, because even if we manage to recycle only half of our household waste, on average, we reduce just over a 1000 kilograms of CO2 emissions.
There are many other different ways we can reduce our carbon footprints. It’s amazing to think that all these little things can add up to a massive amount of reduction to each of our emissions, and collectively that’s a great way forward towards tackling the climate change issue.