The average personal carbon footprint in the UK is just over 10 tonnes, which is around 6 flights from London to New York, or 10 of these balloons. The main contributors to this are travel, food, electricity, and waste.
Humanity’s carbon footprint has increased 11-fold since 1961, and is continuing to grow at an exponential rate. However, reducing our carbon footprint is in our control – here are some tips to take action:
Always reuse (when you can)
Coffee cups contain 5% polyurethane plastic, making composting and recycling of disposable cups quite difficult. Furthermore, due to health concerns, there aren’t many paper cups made out of recycled paper.
At the office, you can ditch the single use paper plates, plastic forks and spoons and use proper cutlery, plates, and mugs. You can go a step further and bring your own reusable bottle, coffee cup, straw and containers. This way you’ll start offsetting your own carbon footprint at the office or during your commute.
Anything that you reuse will pay for itself over time and offset your carbon footprint. Nowadays you can recycle pretty much everything, from plastics, paper, glass, and there are many companies which take your old batteries or printer cartridges for free instead of chucking it in the bin.
Monitor and upgrade your appliances
Air conditioning, heating, computers, and lights. Turn these off at home or in the office to have an enormous impact on your carbon footprint and your wallet. Instead of fluorescent lightbulbs, try LED bulbs which use a lot less energy and last almost 50 times longer.
Also remember to use the thermostat effectively. Turning down the heat by 1 degree can potentially save 1/3 tonne of CO2 every year, making a world of a difference over time.
Consider your commute
The UK and US transport sectors are responsible for producing more CO2 than any other sector, and transport accounts for a third of global CO2 emissions. The average petrol car emits 180g of CO2 per km whereas a coach and local bus emit 27g and 82g, respectively.
A carpool will reduce CO2 by up to 1 to 4 cars, depending on the size. While this issue is largely inevitable in certain cases, if you can take public transport or are close enough to cycle to work it’s worth every hassle.
However, it all comes to do convenience and preference. If you need to commute by car each day, there are large tax incentives that make electric cars more affordable.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
The meat industry is one of the largest producers of CO2. This is due to the fact that a lot of land and resources are needed to grow animals. The effect on your carbon footprint is two fold 1) the land is cleared of forests which reduces natures ability to capture CO2 2) large amounts of energy are used in the growth, slaughter and transport of meat. Growing plant protein uses up 11 times less energy and research suggests that this change in diet could decrease greenhouse gasses by 7%.
Cutting down on meat and processed foods is good for the planet and your health. It can help to reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, while also the CO2 released in the process.