5 easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint

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Looking for easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint? Here are five ideas that you may be able to put into practice to help reduce your impact on the environment.

Concerns over the state of the environment are becoming ever greater. More and more people are becoming aware of how environmental issues affect the planet and society.

All of us can act and take small steps to help reduce our carbon footprint and consequently assist in saving our planet.

The United Kingdom’s government has announced plans to realise a greener, more sustainable way of living. That involved taking steps to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions.

In addition to government-led plans, individual members of the public can make changes. Collectively, they can have a significant impact in helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Before it’s too late for the planet, people can tweak their lifestyle to help cut their carbon footprint.

Steps that can help reduce the plant’s carbon emissions have been named ‘the five Rs’. The Rs stand for:

Recycle

Repurpose

Reuse

Refuse

Reduce

1. Stop using standby mode

A 2014 report suggested that, in the United Kingdom alone, £2 billion a year is wasted because of electrical appliances being left on standby mode.

Many people are unaware of the negative financial and environmental impact of leaving electrical appliances in standby mode.

Rather than leaving your phone chargers and other appliances on standby, it’s far more eco-friendly to switch them off completely.

Smartphone disconnected after recharging. Avoid leaving electrical appliance on standby to reduce your carbon footprint and electricity bill..
Smartphone disconnected after recharging. Avoid leaving electrical appliance on standby to reduce your carbon footprint and electricity bill.

2. Consume locally produced food and drink

Reduce your carbon emissions by sourcing locally produced food.

Buying food from farmers markets may have a positive impact on the environment. The produce if often locally produced, meaning less need to burn fossil fuels in transporting the food to market.

Growing your own vegetables means no fuel being burnt in transporting the produce to your kitchen. It also means you can use organic farming techniques and thus avoid pesticides and fungicides.

Shrimp and grits, a seafood dish typical of Carolinian Lowcountry cuisine, served in South Carolina, USA
Cooking seafood? Find out where ingredients are from if you want to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint.

3. Apply the five Rs

Ask yourself if you need something before you buy it. Cut back on impulse purchases that are unnecessary.

Refusing to get items that you don’t actually need is far better for the environment than buying stuff.

All manufactured items have an impact on the planet and its environment.

A major laptop manufacturer is reported to have said that 80 per cent of the carbon footprint of one of the computers is output during production and distribution.

If possible, re-use or repurpose items rather than throwing them away. For example, cut down old trousers to make shorts. That will help cut the volume of waste going into landfill sites.

Check what can and can’t be recycled and recycle as much of your waste as possible. Paper, cardboard, some plastics, metal and electronic waste count among items that can be recycled.

Fin of a humpback whale breaching the surface of the Bay of Fundy on a sunny day off New Brunswick, Canada. Marine life is being detrimentally impacted by plastic waste in the world's oceans.
Marine life is being detrimentally impacted by carelessly discarded plastic waste and rising sea temperatures. Recycle, cut waste and reduce your carbon footprint to aid the environment and marine wildlife.

4. Rethink how you travel

Reducing travel helps cut carbon emissions. Air travel has been identified as a major contributor to individuals’ annual carbon footprints.

Rail travel expert The Man in Seat 61 suggests that travelling between London and Paris on the Eurostar cuts carbon emissions by 91 per cent in comparison with flying.   

Decide if a journey is really necessary before taking it. Driving 5,000 miles a year less in a conventional car cuts carbon emissions by approximately a tonne. Perhaps planning ahead will mean you can combine tasks into a single journey rather than multiple trips?

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to many people that face-to-face business meetings are not always necessary. There’s been an upsurge in the use of virtual meeting software such as Zoom and Teams.

Rather than driving, can you walk or cycle to where you need to go? Doing so means you get exercise.

A Virgin rail service connects London Euston and Manchester Picadilly
Consider travelling by rail rather than flying to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling.

5. Be mindful of energy use

Around four million households are off the UK’s gas grid and rely on alternatives like an LPG tank to heat their homes.

Liquified petroleum gas, often known by its acronym LPG, is cleaner than traditional fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

Vincent van Gogh's family home in Nuenen, the Netherlands. Old houses were once not connected to an energy grid.
An old house that would not have been connected to the energy grid when it was first build.

Making small changes help take small steps towards a greener way of living. You don’t have to completely change your life or reduce your quality of life.

Be more mindful of your consumption and waste and reduce your carbon footprint.

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