What are carbon footprints?

Have you heard the term carbon footprint? It seems like we can’t escape it lately! Everyone is trying to reduce theirs; businesses are talking about being carbon neutral, and even the government is setting out net zero carbon plans. It’s no wonder we’re all feeling a little overwhelmed. But that’s exactly why we’re talking about carbon footprints today. Because they’re completely tangible to us, the regular folk. It’s just a case of breaking down what a carbon footprint is and putting it into everyday terms. In this blog, you’ll discover what a carbon footprint is, what it means to you and the planet but also, tips on how to reduce it today – without spending a penny. 

What is a carbon footprint? 

If you’re really keen to help the environment, you might think about reducing your carbon footprint to zero. But perhaps we should walk before we run? You see, breathing creates a carbon footprint. That’s right, for every breath you take, you create a carbon footprint. So, before we all start holding our breath to fight climate change, let’s see what is manageable and achievable. 

A carbon footprint is ultimately the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that enter the atmosphere. Think about when you walk along the beach, your footstep leaves a print in the sand. It’s the same principle; actions leave a carbon footprint in the air.

How do carbon footprints impact us and the planet? 

CO2 is one of the most common greenhouse gases. When it’s released into the atmosphere it can remain there for 300 to 1,000 years. This is why it is such a problem for our planet. 300 years ago the industrial revolution had only just begun, meaning all the pollution that has happened since then, could still be in our atmosphere. 

The problem with CO2 is that when it is trapped in our atmosphere, it traps heat, contributing to global warming. Not to mention all the air pollution and smog this creates for us. It’s no wonder 1 in 5 of us has a history of asthma, COPD or a respiratory disease. 

But before you think it’s all doom and gloom. There is light at the end of this very smoky tunnel! 

How to reduce your carbon footprint today 

While humans thrive on oxygen and produce CO2, you may be happy to learn that trees feed on CO2 and produce oxygen. This is why it’s so essential to protect our green spaces. Because they remove all those nasties from the air. Reducing the global carbon footprint. 

It’s true, they’re struggling to keep up with our smoggy demands. It doesn’t help that we’re also cutting them down in order to manufacture paper and other wooden products. But it does mean your garden and local green space are more valuable than you could’ve anticipated. 

You can also reduce your carbon footprint by driving less, purchasing food that was grown nearby, and buying clothes that haven’t been shipped overseas. Here are some of our favourite ways to reduce our carbon footprint and they were so easy, that we didn’t notice the difference in our lifestyle! 

  • Stop buying single use items (the more you reuse something the smaller its footprint) 
  • Walk to as many destinations as you can (we made a 20-minute rule if it’s that or less, we walk) 
  • Turn off all plug sockets at the wall (energy has a high footprint and price tag!) 
  • Eat locally grown food (transport is a big carbon footprint) 
  • Eat one vegetarian meal a week, at least! (just like humans, animals also have high footprints) 

There is no right or wrong way to reduce your carbon footprint. We’ve learnt that behaviours only change when they are sustainable and easy-to-do. So, take a look at your lifestyle and see where the easy wins are. Could you cycle to work twice a week or even work from home? Could you eat less red meat this week? Can you avoid using the tumble dryer to save energy? If you’ve got an idea of what you could do, post it in the comments below. We’d love to hear what steps you’re going to take to reduce your footprint. 

4 Responses

  1. You don’t talk about the massive inequality in footprints. Wealthy people produce vast amounts of emissions and need to cut emissions much more drastically than those less well off. Poorer people already have a low footprint.

    1. Hi Jo, we don’t agree with such sweeping statements. The same could be said that wealthier people also offset their carbon footprints the most because they can afford the technologies to do so. It’s better off we all foucs on our own carbon footprints and to do what we can – it will make a difference

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