Most of us have heard the term carbon footprint over and over again, and the term is often used when discussing climate change. Carbon footprint is a way to measure greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s determined by the total amount of greenhouse gases our daily actions generate and release into the atmosphere.
Whether you have a low or high carbon footprint, you should always strive to improve it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy an electric vehicle, install solar panels on your roof or anything else that costs a fortune. There are plenty of small, easy steps everyone can take to reduce their carbon footprint.
If you’re interested in calculating your own carbon footprint, just click here.
1) Use your Bike as a Means of Transportation
Summertime is just around the corner, so if you don’t have a bike but live in a bikeable city, now is the perfect time to invest in one! Even smaller trips to work, to a friend’s house or to the grocery store will make a difference – with the added bonus of improving your health. If biking is not really an option, then travel smart. Go for public trans- portation or carpool instead. This way you help reduce both traffic congestion and oil demand.
2) Eat Less Meat
According to the UN, eating less meat is one of the best things people can do to reduce the pressure we put on the world’s resources. Today, there are many great green alternatives to meat, so get familiar with plant-based recipes and experiment with ways to transition to a more vegan lifestyle. If you need some inspiration to create delicious green dishes, check out ‘Eat Your Greens’, where you can find more than 800 plant-focused recipes. Additionally, if you want to walk that extra mile for the climate, try buying organic or eating locally and seasonally as much as possible.
3) Rethink Your Fashion Choices
There are several steps you can take when it comes to your fashion choices. First and foremost, we encourage you to reduce the amount of new clothes you buy and instead find new ways to use what you already have. If you need to add a new piece to your wardrobe, try not to buy into fast fashion. We know how cheap prices always tend to lure us in, but the trendy, bargain items will quickly go out of style and most will end up in landfills. Instead, buy quality clothes from eco-friendly or organically certified companies that will last beyond seasons, or go treasure hunting at your local second-hand store.
4) Travel Wisely
We’re all longing for adventures and new experiences, especially during these times. However, most of us are also aware that flying is one of the most polluting modes of transportation out there. Therefore, if you’re serious about reducing your carbon footprint, you should rethink the way you travel. Ever thought about exploring Europe by rail? Interrail will give you the perfect opportunity to see and experience places you never thought you would end up in. Another option would be to explore places close to home. To some people this might sound boring, but we promise that a ‘staycation’ can actually feel like a world away.
5) Wash Your Clothes at Lower Temperatures
There are a lot of ways to wash smarter – one of them being using cold water instead of hot. Washing your clothes in cold water will reduce the typical washing machine’s electricity usage by 90%, which is nothing to scoff at. And need not worry, for lightly soiled clothing, cold water sanitises just as well as a warm wash. For an even bigger impact, try only washing full loads and always remember to air dry your clothes on a drying-rack instead of using the tumble dryer.
6) Swap Old Light Bulbs to More Energy-Efficient Ones
Still got incandescent light bulbs in your home? Well, then it’s time to make a change and switch to LED. Even though LEDs cost more, they last up to 25 times longer and will ultimately end up saving you money on your energy bills.
Psst… if you want to be really good, always remember to flip the switch when you leave a room!
7) Unplug Your Unused Appliances
Just because your appliances are turned off doesn’t mean they’re not consuming energy. So, try to unplug them whenever you’re not using them. We realize that this can be a bit time consuming, so if you’re someone who simply can’t stand plugging and unplugging every gadget you have around the house, try leaving appliances you don’t use on a regular basis unplugged. This could be for e.g., your toaster, microwave, radio or desk lamp.
8) Reuse Whatever and Whenever You Can
Single use items contribute to a great deal of the pollution we have worldwide. Therefore, we encourage you to always reuse whenever given the chance. Getting into the habit of reusing is not only good for the environment – it can also help you save money. The more practice you get, the easier it will be for you to turn down single-use items. Here are a few examples of how you can adjust and start reusing (both in your home and on-the-go):
- Bring a reusable mug to your neighbourhood coffee shop
- Make a habit of carrying a reusable water bottle with you (find one here)
- Pack your lunch in a reusable container (find one here)
- Say goodbye to plastic bags and bring a tote bag next time you go grocery shopping (find one here)
- Replace the single-use plastic straws in your kitchen with reusable ones, ranging from ceramic, bamboo, glass, metal or silicone options (here’s a great one)
- Use washable reusable sponges and dish cloths
9) Let Your Garden Untamed
If you’re lucky enough to own a garden, there are several things you can do to make your green space a little rampant and more attractive for wildlife. First and foremost, ditch all pesticides, weed killers and fertilisers as they kill insects and pollute the soil. Another thing you can do is to just lean back and let the grass grow, or alternatively, create a wild corner. If you really want to make a positive impact, create a compost heap and add a water source to your garden.
If you live in the city and have a garden that consists mostly of concrete, invest in a couple of flowerpots and buy some organic bee friendly wildflower seeds. Not only will the flowers look pretty – they will also attract bees and butterflies, as they are rich in pollen and nectar. Double yay!
10) Recycle Your Waste
Establishing recycling stations in your household can reduce your carbon footprint exponen- tially. Recycling valuable materials like glass, aluminium cans and plastic means that it can be reused in other forms, and thus, will not go to waste. In other words, recycling helps the conservation of non-renewable materials; it saves a lot of energy and prevents landfills from getting overloaded. What’s not to like?