To start reducing your carbon footprint, you must first understand what a carbon footprint is and then calculate yours to know where to focus your efforts. Everyone’s carbon footprint is different, so you can quickly calculate your carbon footprint using the Future Planet app and get personal advice on how best to start lowering it.
Why do I need to reduce my carbon footprint?
You might be wondering – how much of an impact can one individual have? Is it not all up to governments and businesses? The reality is it’s going to take individual, government, and corporate climate action for us to be able to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions quick enough to prevent a climate disaster. While the differences we can make as individuals may feel small, they all add up to big results that greatly accelerate the reduction in emissions. So, what changes can we all start making today to lower our carbon footprints? Let’s take a look at some:
1. Sign up for a fully renewable electricity supply.
Energy providers are increasingly offering customers 100% renewable electricity plans. By switching to a 100% renewable electricity plan, you can significantly reduce your household emissions and save money on your bills. You can use online price comparison websites to see what plans are available in your area and how much you can save in less than 5 minutes. If you’re a homeowner and can afford it, installing solar panels can lead to even greater savings over time. If you’re living in Ireland, you may be eligible for a range of grant schemes to help lower the costs of installing solar panels and other home improvement schemes.
2. Reduce your home’s emissions.
Besides switching to 100% renewable electricity, there’s a wide range of changes you can make in your home to reduce your emissions. For example, switching all your lightbulbs to LEDs can significantly reduce the emissions from lighting your home each year! Though LEDs cost more, they use only 25% of the energy of an incandescent bulb and can last up to 25 times longer. Improving your home insulation can also make a big difference, decreasing the amount of heat escaping from your home and saving you money on heating bills. Replacing your heating system with an electric heat pump is another great way to lower your emissions, especially if you have a 100% renewable electricity plan. There are grant schemes available in Ireland for both insulation work and the installation of a heat pump system. If you’re a renter, you may not be able to make all these changes, but you can encourage your landlord to do so.
3. Eat less red meat.
The food we eat is one of the major contributors to climate change. Red meat is by far the greatest contributor when it comes to food. Animal farming is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the production of red meat is responsible for 41% of those emissions. This is primarily due to the high land-use requirements for raising cattle and the methane emissions they create. So choosing to eat fewer animal products, but especially red meat, can make a big difference in lowering your carbon footprint.
4. Buy responsibly made clothes and recycle old ones.
Fashion contributes up to 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, pollutes rivers, and 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. Fashion is as damaging as aviation from an environmental perspective! Buying used or second-hand clothing can be a great way to lessen this impact. If you don’t want to buy used clothes, make sure to purchase quality items that are produced responsibly and will last a long time. When getting rid of old clothes, don’t just throw them into the waste bin. Instead, drop them off at a local charity or textile recycling facility.
5. Lower food waste.
We produce roughly one million tonnes of food waste in Ireland alone each year! When our food waste goes to landfills, it decomposes and releases methane, rapidly warming the planet. Not only is food waste an environmental concern, but it also costs the average Irish household €700 each year in wasted food items. One great way to start reducing food waste is to plan your meals for the week, make a list of what you need, and bring that list with you when you go to the supermarket. Learning how to better manage and store your food can make a substantial environmental impact and save you money. StopFoodWaste has an excellent A-Z of Foods guide to advise you on the foods you eat most.
6. Fly less.
The carbon footprint of air travel is larger than any other mode of transport. While for long journeys, there may be no other option but to fly, for shorter trips, explore other options such as a train or a ferry to lessen the environmental impact. For journeys where flying is the only option, try reducing the number of stops on your flight or, ideally, fly direct to your final destination.
7. Contact your local representatives.
While we all must make changes in our lifestyles and how we manage our homes, we won’t be able to prevent the worst of climate change without greater governmental action and policies. Writing letters and calling your elected officials can have a real impact. Make sure they know climate change is a priority to you and will determine how you vote. Ask them where they stand and what work they are doing to create a greener future.
Don’t know what your carbon footprint is? Download the Future Planet mobile app today and calculate your emissions score in less than 5 minutes.