It takes someone in the UK just five days to emit the same amount of carbon as someone in Rwanda does across a whole year, data extracted from Global Carbon Atlas shows.
Most people want to reduce their carbon footprint (I’ve never met anyone who wanted to increase it, anyway), so, the good news is you can save energy without expending too much of your own!
Find out how in just 10 (foot)steps.
1. Understand the problem
You can’t very well be expected to reduce your footprint if you don’t know your existing shoe size. The average Brit’s personal footprint results mainly from recreation (leisure, entertainment), heating, food and our homes (buildings, appliances, lighting and furniture). See a comprehensive list here.
Calculating your own carbon footprint will help you prioritise the easiest ways to improve it. You can do it at the WWF website here for free in just 2 minutes.
2. Stuff your face
Of the 6.6 million tonnes of food we throw away each year in the UK, almost three quarters (70% of the total) is food we could have eaten (4.5 million tonnes). If we simply eat more of the food we buy we cut our foodprint, our shopping costs and our waste.
3. Veg out
A serving of red meat or cheese can have a carbon intensity more than ten times higher than a low carbon grain or fruit. Eating more low carbon foods can slash your foodprint and improve your diet.
4. Stay warm and well
Improving insulation and getting rid of draughts in your home will lower emissions, cut heating bills and improve comfort. We have plenty of tips for that here.
5. Let your home chill out
If you drop your thermostat by 1ºC in winter you’ll use about 10% less heat. By only heating the rooms you need at the times (and temperatures) you need them you can reduce your heating emissions and bills by £80 per year.
Find out how.
6. Get on your bike
Electrified public transport, full buses and bicycles are typically the lowest carbon forms of transport. For cars, using a hybrid or electric car with low carbon electricity can more than halve driving emissions.
7. Find some staycation inspiration
Flying can rack up huge carbon footprints in a hurry. Any avoided flight will take a chunk out of your carbon footprint. Quitting flying altogether is tough, but flying less frequently is often easier to achieve. You can get to some wonderful locations in Europe by train, or simply explore the UK coastline.
Be inspired by Sustainable Merton.
8. Buy great stuff
A low-carbon product can be second hand, use low carbon materials, be extremely efficient or just so good that it lasts ages. Choosing quality over quantity is a good place to start cutting product emissions.
9. Watch your watts
Turn off appliances when not in use (and turn them off standby!), unplug phone chargers, turn off lights, use eco mode on you washing machine and dishwasher. If you do it meticulously enough, the average household can also save a combined average of £45-£90 per year. Flip the switch in your home and in your mind.
If every household in the UK switched off their appliances it could save enough CO2 to fill Wembley Stadium 23 times!
Which brings us to...
10. Switch it up and keep switching
Switch to a green supplier, swap your gas boiler for a heat pump, make as many little swaps as you can, as often as you can and their combined power to change will make all the difference.
While all of these changes will help reduce your individual carbon footprint, tweaks at the individual level can only go so far, and the onus should be on vast, powerful industries to curb pollution, as well as governments to take urgent and radical action on cutting our reliance on fossil fuels. This means collective, community action and petitioning politicians are a couple of the best ways you can take action on climate!
If you want to take action in Wandsworth, Merton and Lambeth, why not join us?