Simple everyday changes to reduce our carbon footprint and help the environment
We have all heard about some mindful behaviours that we can implement throughout our day to lessen the impact we have on the environment – turn off the lights when you are not in the room, turn off the tap whilst you’re brushing your teeth, don’t leave the heating on when nobody is in the house… All of these tips make a huge difference! But there is always more we can do. In the following, we suggest some additional changes you can incorporate into your everyday routine to lower your carbon footprint and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Change your method of transport
This one is pretty obvious, but it’s also one of the most important. This is because transport is the UK’s biggest contributor to CO₂ emissions. Any changes you can make here will therefore have a major impact. Try to avoid using the car unless you absolutely have to! Lockdown and its slower pace of life demonstrated that we simply don’t need to jump in the car for so many of the short journeys we make. Try to keep the habit of walking or cycling instead. For longer journeys, explore whether carsharing with colleagues is an option, or simply switch to public transport. In times like these, however, this might feel unsafe, which is completely understandable. It’s a good thing, then, that many cities all over the UK have invested heavily in pop-up cycle lanes, and in London, for instance, there are plans to expand on car-free zones and build a further 30km of permanent cycle lanes. So if you have been thinking about finally getting a bicycle – now is the time! If you aren’t seeing these kinds of changes happening in your area, write to your MP and ask them why?
It’s all about food
Eating and buying smarter can be a great way of helping the environment.
Be less wasteful
When it comes to shopping, it’s a good idea to write a shopping list before you head out. This way, you plan exactly for the food you will need for the coming week and avoid buying a ton of things that will ultimately get thrown in the rubbish. Freeze any leftovers for another day – the same goes for meals at a restaurant. It’s a bonus if you come prepared with your own container to take anything you haven’t finished home.
Be mindful of the packaging
You can also reduce plastic waste by shopping smarter. It is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic are used in the UK every year – half of which is packaging. A lot of plastic waste ultimately ends up in oceans and harms animals and the environment, so anything we can do to lessen this amount should be done!
First of all: bring your own bag to the supermarket instead of grabbing a plastic bag at the checkout. Or at least reuse the plastic bags that you do get.
Buying foods like pasta or rice in large quantities will not only last you a long time, but also requires less plastic than buying them in a few smaller packs. The same goes for purchasing loose products – individual tea bags or coffee pods will have more packaging than loose tea or coffee powder. In addition, going for vegetables and fruits that are not wrapped in individual packaging can be a smart way to reduce plastic waste. Another method to achieve the no-plastic-goal is buying drinks in recyclable glass bottles rather than plastic bottles or aluminium cans; or you could try and ditch bought drinks altogether by only drinking tap or filtered water.
And last but not least – you can make a big difference to paper and plastic waste by using your own cutlery and napkins when you order take out, and by bringing a cup or travel mug from home to your café of choice to get your daily dose of caffeine. When you go to work or university, prepare your lunch beforehand instead of getting the usual convenient meal deal. It all helps.
Finally, your eating habits themselves can minimise your environmental impact. Reducing your meat intake makes a massive difference. According to the United Nations, livestock generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential of CO₂, and livestock production is a key factor in deforestation. So even one or two days of avoiding meat can help immensely. If you want to go vegetarian or vegan, even better! Tofu or beans, for example, are a great alternative source of protein, and the production of plant-based foods are generally much less harmful to the environment.
You could also try to reduce your intake of some perishable foods that need to be flown-in from other places and are therefore leaving a bigger carbon footprint. Eating more sustainably can be done by buying locally as well as consuming less processed food. Organic food is also great – it can be more expensive, but it also accounts for less air pollution, uses less energy, conserves water and reduces soil erosion as well as increasing soil fertility.
Fix up your clothing
1kg of fabric is responsible for 23kg of greenhouse gases – so you might want to consider buying less frequently and more responsibly. Sew on new buttons and fix that hole in your new jacket instead of throwing it away, because that piece of clothing will become part of the 85% of fast fashion textiles that end up in landfills each year. If you want to change up your style, bear in mind that ethical suppliers provide – more often than not – a higher quality in addition to being better for the environment. Second-hand shops are another viable option, because in order for these items to reach you, they usually don’t need to be shipped from half-way across the globe, which only adds to emissions. Other things you can easily buy second-hand include books, furniture and electronics.
Ever checked the ingredient list of your laundry detergent? A lot of detergents and fabric conditioners contain a combination of chemicals that can not only harm your health, but also the environment – many of the more well-known brands are full of components that do not easily biodegrade and can have a long lasting toxic effect to aquatic life. Similar chemicals can be found in some washing-up liquids. Invest some time into doing your bit of research to avoid using such products for your laundry and dishes.
In addition, you should not waste water and energy on half-empty loads – ask your family members or flatmates if they have anything that needs to be washed.
When it comes to drying your clothes, avoid using a tumble dryer: they use up massive amounts of energy. Hanging everything up on a washing line or a clothes airer only requires air and some patience.
We can’t save the planet all by ourselves, but if everyone makes just a few little changes in their daily life, we can make an enormous impact together.
If you are taking action for a better planet and need help getting your message across, we are here to help. Please feel free to contact us.