It’s the elephant in the room, or more like the invisible elephant. The carbon footprint. We all know how important it is to reduce it, but for us everyday folk, it’s not as easy as sorting our recycling or turning off the tap while brushing our teeth. Carbon is all around us, yet as its invisible it’s easy to ignore. But as we see the polar caps under threat, and predictions that polar bears could become extinct in the next 35-40 years, addressing our carbon impact has never been so important.
In short, your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.
Everyone has a carbon footprint. It is believed that on average every person creates a carbon footprint of about 4 tons of C02 every year and to avoid a 2 degrees rise by 2050, the average global carbon footprint needs to almost halve. Everything we do, buy or see gives off some carbon. Imagine you’re walking along a beach, you’re going to leave that footprint (unless you can levitate) it’s about making sure that your footprint is only in the sand and doesn’t come in the form of litter and damage to the surroundings.
So what are the main contributors to your carbon footprint and what could you do?
Although it’s difficult to see your carbon footprint, there are four key things that we can all think about differently. If we all do a little less, then it’s going to have a positive impact. So what are they?
A flying plane will create 90kg of CO2 an hour, not to mention the carbon produced to extract materials and manufacture the aircraft in the first place.
We know our cars aren’t great for our carbon footprint but have you considered using it less? Walk to your friends, cycle to work even using public transport can have a positive impact.
Buy second hand
Anything, from furniture to fashion, purchasing second hand is a great way to minimise your impact. Use sites such as Facebook Marketplace and Depop to help find the second hand goodies, it’s never been easier.
Consider your diet
Eating less meat is a great way to start, but buying products in season can significantly minimise your carbon footprint. Take a look at the impact of almond milk and avocados – trendy foods aren’t always the best for the environment.
What’s great about these four contributors is that making changes isn’t hard. It’s about small changes that could add up to make a big difference if we all consider what we do differently.
Reducing your carbon footprint requires a little bit of faith. You can’t physically see your results and it can be difficult to accurately measure on an individual scale. However, there are activities that will positively offset your footprint.
We’ve seen it happen recently as the nation descended into lockdown. Millions of us stopped commuting in our cars, on trains or public transport and the effects have been astonishing.
The skies in London became cleaner; our wildlife thrived as it returned to built-up areas, and let’s not forget that renewable energy powered the nation for two months as coal industries were rendered unnecessary.
During the heatwaves in April and May, you may have realised your skin burnt quicker than usual. It’s not you that changed; it was the pollution. The reduction in carbon emissions led the UV light from the sun to pierce through the atmosphere more efficiently, burning you faster and more fiercely that you’re used to.
Later next month, we will be diving deep into the most common topics surrounding carbon footprints, but for now, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about yours.