Your niece might not yet have mastered the art of eating a raspberry yoghurt without spewing it back up over your new white shirt, but she sure does make the world a better place. And you want the world to be the best it can be for her, which means doing your bit for the environment and knowing how to reduce your carbon footprint where possible.
We’ve got plenty of ways to reduce your carbon emissions – but first, what is a “carbon footprint”? And why does yours matter? We’ll answer these questions, and more, exploring average global CO2 emissions, how you can calculate your carbon footprint, and the small but significant changes can you make at home, at work, or at school to reduce your carbon footprint.
What is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is the environmental impact of actions that require energy,1 such as day-to-day tasks like boiling a kettle, switching on a light and driving to work, as well as less frequent actions like taking a flight to go on holiday. (Business trips don’t count as part of your carbon footprint – the emissions from those belong to your employer!)
What size is your carbon footprint?
Before you learn how to reduce carbon emissions, a good starting point is knowing the size of your footprint, currently. The size of a carbon footprint depends on the total amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the air from each of your actions. Emissions vary across the world, where access to both energy and the consumption of goods differs.
While factors such as location, occupation and more play a key factor, the average carbon footprint – the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per person – is roughly 4.7 tonnes.2
Find out yours, as well as some personalised ways to reduce your carbon footprint, by taking WWF’s Footprint Calculator questionnaire.3
Why is it important to reduce carbon emissions?
Once you know the size of your footprint, you can start to reduce carbon emissions to meet (or exceed!) your local or personal targets. But why is it important to reduce your carbon footprint? The simple answer is to minimise the negative impacts of climate change.
The energy we use releases greenhouse gases into the air, which – in large quantities – raises the average surface temperature of the planet. This can have significant negative effects on our planet: rising sea levels, which increases coastal erosion as well as causing floods, oceans warming up, changing currents, disruptive weather patterns, and effects on fisheries because of changes to fish spawning behaviour, to name a few.
It’s important to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint so that temperature increases slow down to a stop, so that the planet can recover from the negative effects of greenhouse gases emissions in the air. Every positive action helps, so follow our advice for day-to-day ways to reduce carbon emissions and contribute towards a better world.
How to reduce your carbon footprint:
- Reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Shop and eat locally.
- A plant-based diet.
- Buy clothes made from sustainable materials.
- Choose products that have recyclable packing.
- Have cold showers (if you’re brave enough!)
- Invest in a water butt.
- Use energy-saving lightbulbs.
- Turn off and unplug your appliances when they’re not in use.
- Cycle to work, or take public transport – if you can.
Read on for more details and simple tips to reduce your carbon footprint in your everyday life.
1. How can I reduce my carbon footprint by generating less waste?
Without a doubt, one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon footprints is to create less waste. That means reduce, reuse and recycle. And whilst the temptation to throw that yoghurt-spattered shirt far, far away is very real, it’s also not entirely necessary. Being more aware of the amount of waste we all produce is the first step to being able to reduce it. From moving away entirely from single use plastics to recycling the waste we do generate; we can all do our bit. Often, it’s the little things we do every day that have the biggest impact.
2. How do I reduce my carbon footprint through food?
There are ways to reduce carbon footprints via what we eat and how we shop for groceries. For starters, buying and eating local, in-season produce can make a huge difference. The fewer miles food has to travel to you, the better. Shopping local – when you can – is also a great way to support your local community.
Another positive change you can make is switching to a plant-based diet – if not all the time, a few days a week (don’t worry we’re not asking you to give up all of your favourite dishes). Plus, switching to a full- or part-time planet-based diet is a really great way to get inspired in the kitchen. Eating less meat is a good idea because animal products take up more resources to get to your plate: meat and dairy also generate a lot of greenhouse gases, so reducing consumption can play a role in reducing carbon emissions too.
But it’s not just what we eat or where we buy it that matters – it's also what we do with those leftovers (if there are any... it’s always nice when dinner is devoured with no trace left behind). Adding leftovers as well as kitchen scraps (as long as they’re compostable) to the compost bin is a wonderful way of disposing of food waste.
Not only do you divert waste which might have been bound for landfill, but you get to nourish your garden at the same time – it's a win-win. Plus, it’s super satisfying. Just make sure your food waste is compostable by checking out our handy guide.
Did you know Plenty Original kitchen roll sheets are now certified compostable?* They’re compostable sheets for compostable messes!
Want to know more about Plenty’s compostable kitchen roll sheets? Check out the answers to your frequently asked questions.
3. How do I reduce my carbon footprint through the products I buy?
So, you can buy local produce and switch to plant-based foods, which may require a change in your shopping habits. But what else can help you reduce your carbon footprint? Choosing clothing made from sustainable materials, opting for products packaged in recyclable materials, and those that have a reduced CO2 footprint will all help. Also, instead of buying brand-new clothes, find pre-loved items from charity shops or even swap with your friends for a fun and social way to freshen up your wardrobe! Digging out a dreamy designer jacket or killer pair of shoes for a few quid is a feeling worth chasing.
At Plenty we’re also working on making sustainable choices. Our Plenty kitchen paper comes in recyclable and CO2-reduced packaging.
4. How to reduce my carbon footprint by using less water
There are so many ways to reduce your carbon footprint by using water more efficiently. For one, using cooler temperatures when you wash – whether that’s yourself or your clothes – means less heat and therefore less energy consumed.
Other top tips for more efficient water usage as a way to reduce your carbon footprint include:
- Choosing to shower rather than have a bath.
- Using the washing machine only when you have a full load and washing at a lower temperature.
- Investing in a water butt that collects rain to water the garden with instead of using a hose.
5. How can I reduce my carbon footprint by using less power?
One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home is to reduce the amount of energy your house consumes. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you live by candlelight – just turn appliances and lights off when you’re not using them.
When we leave power switches on, they may only be dripping energy, but over time those drips really add up. So, save energy and reduce your carbon footprint by turning sockets off and unplugging your devices when you’re not using them.
6. How can I reduce my carbon footprint with efficient lighting?
One of the great things about following a sustainable lifestyle is the combination of protecting the environment and saving money in the process. Choosing energy-saving light bulbs is one of the best ways to reduce carbon footprints while saving a little cash too. You’ll probably pay a little more initially but these bulbs last for a lot longer – so that’s less waste, less energy and less money spent in the long run. That’s a triple-win!
7. How to reduce my carbon footprint when travelling
There are many instances where using a car or flying are unavoidable, but there are some simple swaps you might be able to make, if not every day, often enough. You could take a bus, rather than the car. When it comes to swapping your car out for a new one, consider an electric car, if you can. Ride a bike or best of all walk to places you might ordinarily drive to – if within walking distance. These are all positive ways to reduce your emissions, as is reducing the amount you fly. These are all great ways to get more active, too, so your body will thank you as well as the planet.
8. How to reduce my carbon footprint in my daily routine
Consistency and regularity are key, so when you put all of these tips together in everyday life it’ll really help reduce your carbon footprint. Some of the daily changes we can all make to reduce our carbon footprint include:
- Air-drying clothes on a sunny day rather than tumble-drying – plus, they smell so much fresher when they’ve been out on the line.
- Using a broom to sweep up debris, rather than reaching for the vacuum.
- Buying ethical cleaning products and using multi-use cleaning materials.
Combine daily tasks that incorporate a greener approach with all of the above tips and you’ll be well on your way to reducing your carbon footprint.
What we’re doing to reduce our environmental impact
At Plenty, we’re committed to reducing our carbon footprint, while caring for your wellbeing too. Through innovations in product, packaging and production, we’re finding ways to be reduce carbon emissions as a company. We have big goals on our journey towards a sustainable future, including focusing on creating biodegradable products, reducing, replacing and recycling our packaging – with a 100% recyclability goal to meet by 2025 – as well as using 85% renewable or recycled materials. Read more about our sustainability journey to find out what we’re doing to reduce our carbon footprint.
*Plenty kitchen towels are certified as home and industrially compostable according to NF T 50-800 and EN14995.
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