How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Why it matters
Offsetting your unavoidable CO2 emissions is a practical and immediate way to take ownership of your personal contribution to climate change. Offsetting also reveals both the need for cleaner energy sources and opportunities for reducing your carbon footprint.
Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint from Driving
Alternatives to driving
When possible, walk or ride your bike in order to avoid carbon emissions completely. Car pooling and public transport drastically reduce CO2 emissions by spreading them out over many riders.
Drive a low carbon vehicle
If you have to drive a car, choose a low carbon vehicle, ideally electric but otherwise with low fuel consumption/C02 emissions. You can find out the consumption figures for UK vehicles here. Electric cars emit no CO2 if they’re charged with clean electricity (generated from natural gas or wind, water, or solar power).
Get a hitch-mounted cargo rack
Don’t buy a minivan or SUV if you don’t need 4WD and/or will only occasionally need the extra space. A receiver hitch and a rack like this one only cost a few hundred pounds. Avoid roof-top boxes, which cost much more, increase aerodynamic drag, and decrease fuel economy.
Consider your driving style
Speeding and unnecessary acceleration reduce mileage by up to 33%, waste fuel and money, and increase your carbon footprint.
Tyre inflation and other tuning
Properly inflated tyres improve your fuel mileage by up to 3%. It also helps to use the correct grade of motor oil, and to keep your engine tuned, because some maintenance fixes, like fixing faulty oxygen sensors, can increase fuel efficiency by up to 40%.
No one likes being stuck in traffic because it wastes time, but it also wastes fuel and unnecessarily creates CO2. Use traffic websites and apps to avoid jams and go a different way, or delay starting your journey until the traffic has cleared.
Combine errands to make fewer trips. Remove excess weight from your car. Use cruise control.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Air Travel
Until petroleum-based aviation fuel is replaced, you should avoid flying when possible, fly less frequently, fly shorter distances, and fly economy class.
Leisure Air Travel
Take fewer and longer vacations that are far away, and more frequent and driveable “staycations” closer to home.
Work Air Travel
Increase your use of video-conferencing tools like Skype and Facetime.
Economy class is best, for the same reasons as carpooling and public transportation. Each flyer’s share of a flight’s carbon emissions is relatively less because it’s spread out over more people.
That’s Economy class
When Prince William flies economy class, he’s leading by example. Then there’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, or the Sultan of Brunei, who buy entire economy-size planes and convert them into flying palaces.
Don’t fly on private jets
Fly first or business class if you must, because at least those seats always fill up anyway, and avoid private jets. Even Lewis Hamilton has managed to give up his.
How to Reduce Your Home Energy Carbon Footprint
Insulate and seal your home
Reduce drafts and air leaks with caulk, insulation, and weather stripping. https://www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures
Make energy efficiency a primary consideration when choosing a new boiler, dishwasher, oven or refrigerator. Products bearing the for having superior efficiency.
The Energy Saving Trust has a lot of useful information on how to choose energy efficient appliances
Turn off lights you’re not using and when you leave the room. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent or LED ones.
Stop Standing By!
Standby is the energy used by certain appliances when not in use and not switched off at the plug. As well as standby power, other new additions to the average household’s collection of electrical goods such as broadband modems, broadband routers, smart speakers, digi-boxes and telephones use low levels of electricity when not in use. We tend not to think to switch these off, but as they’re often on for 24 hours a day, these appliances gradually consume a great deal of electricity.
Fortunately there are a number of products available to help cut down your standby electricity consumption, such as standby savers that allow you to turn all your appliances off standby in one go. Some come with timers and others come with a single off-switch.
Turn it Down
Don’t set your thermostat too high or low. Install a programmable model to turn off the heating when you’re not home.
Get some sunshine
Add solar panels to the roof of your home. This costs a little more than the above options, but many providers offer financing options which minimize upfront costs.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Food
Eat locally-produced and organic food
It has been estimated that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Transporting food requires petroleum-based fuels, and many fertilizers are also fossil fuel-based.
Cut the beef and dairy
It takes a lot of resources to raise cows, and it’s especially bad if you buy beef from somewhere like Brazil, where it was grazed on land that used to be tropical forest but was cleared for agricultural use. Deforestation is a top contributor to carbon emissions and thus climate change.
Grow Your Own
Other Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Lower the amount of energy used to pump, treat, and heat water by washing your car less often, using climate-appropriate plants in your garden, installing drip irrigation so that plants receive only what they need, and making water-efficient choices when purchasing shower heads, taps, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines.
Reuse and recycle
It has been estimated that 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the “provision of goods,” which means the extraction of resources, manufacturing, transport, and final disposal of “goods” which include consumer products and packaging, building components, and passenger vehicles, but excluding food. By buying used products and reselling or recyling items you no longer use, you dramatically reduce your carbon footprint from the “provision of goods.”
Support clean energy sources
Whenever you can, advocate for clean alternatives to fossil fuels, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and appropriately designed hydroelectric and biomass energy projects.