Sometimes it feels as though you cannot do much to impact people or the planet but it is little things across the globe that all add up and make a massive difference just by the commitment and showing that you are doing something. This is the case with many things and also includes environmentalism.
In an age where it is vital we cut down on our waste and become more environmentally conscious, we look at a few ways you can cut down on your carbon footprint.
1. Reduce Air Travel
Air travel is usually a person's largest component of their carbon footprint, especially for frequent flyers. The advent of cheap airfares and low-cost airlines has meant that travel has become more accessible to many millions of people but the environmental impact is quite drastic.
That is not to say stop traveling and exploring the world but consider your options as trains are far more environmentally friendly or just by taking a few fewer flights.
2. Eat Less Meat
Cows and sheep emit large quantities of methane, a powerful global warming gas, and large swathes of forestland (which helps reduce CO2) is often cut down and cleared for the production of these animals and to increase farmland. By shifting to a less meat orientated diet, you can seriously impact your carbon footprint.
A vegan diet might make as much as a 20% difference to your overall carbon impact but simply cutting out beef will deliver a significant benefit on its own. Why not check out our article on it for more information by clicking here.
We're talking about heating your home here. Poorly insulated houses take a tremendous amount of energy to keep warm and just by properly insulating your attic or filling your cavity wall you can really cut down on your energy usage and this is also good for saving a bit of money over time.
By investing in insulating your house, you will save money over the long run by cutting down on your energy bills which will also produce less carbon.
4. Update Your Boiler
Old gas and oil boilers are often extremely wasteful and even if it is working well, it is worth considering updating it if it is 15+ years old as your fuel use may fall by a third or more, repaying the cost in lower fuel bills.
This is just another example of how environmentalism can also save you money.
5. Think About Your Mileage
How often are you driving and do you really need to be driving that often? If it is vital, have you considered an electric car? Reducing the mileage of the average new car from 15,000 to 10,000 miles a year will save more than a ton of CO2, about 15% of the average person’s footprint. However, if you are running an old banger, don't rush out to buy a new car.
The manufacture of an electric car may produce more emissions than the vehicle produces in its lifetime.
6. Don't Upgrade Unless Necessary
A lot of electrical goods use up more energy in their production than they do in their lifetime. Apple says 80% of the carbon footprint of a new laptop comes from manufacturing and distribution, not use in the home and this applies to many other appliances as well.
So by maintaining a product and using it sparingly, your are far greener than those who constantly buy new.
7. Switch From Halogen To LED
LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have become cheap and effective. and are a great alternative to halogen lamps which use up a serious amount of energy. It makes good financial and carbon sense to replace as many halogen bulbs as possible with their LED equivalent because the latter should last at least 10 years, meaning you avoid the hassle of buying new halogen bulbs every few months.
Your CO2 footprint will fall and you will rely on less energy.
8. Consider Carefully When Buying Home Appliances
When buying a new fridge or tumble dryer, be careful when considering what one you are going to go for and always assume cheap means low energy, sometimes there is a premium to being energy conscious. Frequent use will also add to your carbon footprint so if it's a warm day think about hanging the washing out rather than tumbling it.
It is little things like that that all add up to make a huge difference.
9. Consume Less
Buy less stuff and less energy will be used as fewer products, less packaging, less transport for shipping and less waste will all be a produced. For example, a suit made of wool may have a carbon impact equivalent to your home’s electricity use for a month.
Buy what you need and cut down on non-vital shopping and it will make a world of difference.
10. Look At The CO2 Impact of What You Buy
Granted, this research can be hard work but a much simpler way of looking at this is to see where things come from. Bananas, for example, often are shipped by sea and so are a lot better than say, asparagus flown in from Peru, but if you don't know where to find this information and just see where the product comes from.
By trying to buy things from more local regions, you will not only support your local economy but also cut down on the carbon costs as well.
11. Invest In Your Own Source of Renewable Energy
Putting solar panels on the roof still, quite often, makes financial sense even after most countries have ceased to subsidize installation. Alternatively, buy shares in new cooperatively owned wind, solar or hydroelectric plants that are looking for finance and you will both help the planet and save/make a bit of cash.
The returns won't be massive but quite often they are higher than the rate of interest and so are better than leaving your cash in a bank.
12. Invest Wisely
For many years large fuel companies and electricity generation businesses were able to raise funds through investors who were happy to ignore low carbon options in search of profit but consumers have a massive say in this and the focus on greener energy has made companies more acutely aware of this too.
Now, by contrast, money managers are increasingly wary of backing the investment plans of oil companies and switching to renewable projects. By making consumer decisions that keep this pressure up, more companies are going to try and prepare for a low-carbon future.
13. Support Companies That Are Prepared For A Low Carbon Future
An increasing number of companies are committed to a 100% carbon neutral future and those that aren't are getting left behind. Like making investment choices wisely it is good to opt for a purchase from the greener company than the one that is just in it for your money.
By making purchasing decisions based on ethics, it will force companies to sit up and take notice of them.
14. Make Your Local Politician Aware
Many people feel they are not listened to by politicians but they do tend to do what their electorates want. The last major UK government survey showed that 82% of people supported the use of solar power, with only 4% opposed. A similar survey in the US showed an even larger percentage in favor.
By writing, calling and buying in a green friendly manner, politicians will sit up and take note if that's what people want.
15. Buy Energy From Retailers Who Sell Renewable Energy
It may seem counter-intuitive, but by buying gas and electricity from retailers who do sell renewable energy as well, it allows for their business to expand and so the option of greater green options becomes more widely available elsewhere and now others have the choice to go green.
Renewable natural gas is just coming on to the market in reasonable quantities in many countries and fossil-free electricity is widely available.