As our growing population depletes the planet’s resources, it’s vital that we reduce our carbon footprint and live more sustainable lives.
As we go about our daily lives, we cause greenhouse gasses to be emitted through the production and consumption of goods and services.
These gasses blanket the Earth and trap the sun’s heat, leading to global warming and climate change with disastrous results, including drought and wildfires.
Carbon footprint is a term used to quantify the impact we have on climate change, and by understanding it, we can make changes and become sustainable – a societal goal which aims for ecological balance.
Little changes can make a huge environmental difference.
Take the weekly shop. It goes without saying to only buy what you need, recycle and reuse carrier bags, but choosing local seasonal produce avoids the transportation of food by air which uses a huge amount of greenhouse gas.
Limit your consumption of red meat – cattle produce methane which traps heat in the atmosphere – and with fish, always look for the sustainable blue fish tick sign on packaging.
When it comes to clothes, teenagers are already into buying second hand from charity shops or online from stores like Vinted. Not your thing? Then look for clothing which is made from recycled material or which carries an eco-label.
Walking, cycling, or using public transport is great but not always practical, so be smart when using your car. Have it serviced to ensure efficiency, keep the tyres pumped to reduce emissions, limit air conditioning, use cruise control and go easy on the gas and brakes.
When buying a new motor look at its energy efficiency and consider an electric or hybrid vehicle.
A sustainable home
Lowering your carbon footprint at home can save money. Turn the heating down by one degree and you’ve already made a difference to your pocket. Take showers instead of baths and turn off the water while you brush your teeth. Unplug electrical equipment when not in use and don’t leave your phone on charge when the battery is full.
For bigger changes, there’s a real buzz around solar panels. They’re expensive – an average of £6,500 according to Moneysavingexpert.com – but they can dramatically reduce electricity costs.
You need to factor in our lovely English weather as solar energy depends on direct sunlight, but on the plus side, they don’t require much maintenance, with cleaning a couple of times a year coming in at around £25.
Further savings can be made with replacement doors and windows. Around 30% of home energy is lost through draughty doors and windows according to Ecowatch.com, but a cheaper option is having them resealed. You may also want to look into cavity wall and loft insulation and check that your boiler is working optimally.
A really quick sustainability fix is upgrading your lightbulbs to LEDs which use up to 90% less energy than regular ones.
Getting green in the garden
Home composting is the most environmentally friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste. You can find a composter for under £50. Then you just need to find the right site and know what
to put in it. Check out Rhs.org.uk for an in-depth composting guide.
Rainwater harvesting is a viable way of supplying homes with water, reducing dependency on mains water, and cutting bills. Rainwater can be collected by using catchment devices, and although not suitable for drinking, can be used to wash clothes or flush the loo. All you need to get started is a water butt.
More information on rainwater harvesting can be found at Renewableenergyhub.co.uk