With all the chaos of 2020, it has been hard to keep up with the environmental impact. In the first half of the year, the lack of flights and travel meant carbon emissions worldwide decreased. Now it is unclear what the long-term impact of the pandemic will be on climate change.
However, one thing that is certain is that every individual can have a positive environmental impact even from their home. In the fight against climate change, even the smallest actions are important, and it’s up to every one of us to do our bit.
This article will lay out some easy switches and improvements you can make to your lifestyle and home to make them more energy-efficient, reducing your overall carbon emissions. Why not start with these three simple steps?
The average UK resident throws away approximately seven times their body weight in rubbish every year. Food waste makes up a large percentage of this overall sum. When we send rubbish to landfill instead of recycling, not only are we depleting precious natural resources, but we are also contributing to greenhouse gas emissions directly and indirectly. Directly, rubbish in landfills releases methane into the atmosphere as it breaks down. Indirectly, throwing waste away rather than recycling means we then need to produce more, using energy and primary resources.
To reduce this, make sure you are recycling correctly at home. Check with your local council which recycling they accept and make sure you have all the right bins.
Not only is recycling important, but it is also good to try and reduce how much waste you are producing in the first place. Avoid unnecessary food waste by meal planning in advance, and avoid products that are wrapped in lots of plastic packaging. See if you can buy your fruits and vegetables lose rather than in plastic.
Eat less meat and dairy
It is calculated that food production accounts for around a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of this, the meat and dairy industry is responsible for a whopping 14.5%, easily more than any other food group.
The impact of plant-based foods on the environment is roughly 10 to 15 times smaller than that of animal products. You don’t have to switch to a completely vegan diet to meaningfully reduce your carbon emissions. If everyone in the world followed a ‘flexitarian diet’ (replacing three quarters of your meat and dairy intake with plant-based alternatives), we would save over 5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year by 2050, according to experts.
An initiative like Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary provides lots of recipe inspiration and the motivation needed to get started. Eating less meat and dairy is a simple goal that you can achieve from the comfort of your own home.
Reduce your carbon footprint with offsetting
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of emissions produced from your daily activities. This includes what you eat, how you travel, and the energy used around your home. The average UK resident’s carbon footprint in 2018 was 5.6 tonnes per year. In the United States, the average is 16.6 tonnes per person per year. And in India, it is 1.9 tonnes. This shows how much variation there is in an average carbon footprint.
The first step is to calculate your carbon footprint. Then you can look at sensible lifestyle changes such as flying less, eating less meat, and turning down your heating, all of which reduce carbon emissions. When you have decreased your carbon footprint as much as possible through lifestyle, you will want to think about carbon offsetting.
Carbon offsetting is a way of mitigating your carbon emissions by reducing emissions elsewhere. You can do this by supporting carbon reduction projects. This might sound confusing, but there are plenty of services like Treepoints carbon offsetting that make it simple for you.
All you have to do is select a subscription plan that is right for your lifestyle, and then the carbon offsetting service will take care of the rest. They donate to carbon reduction projects on your behalf. When you have offset the same amount of emissions as you are responsible for, you become net carbon neutral.