Reduce

Are you looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint? We are told over and over by the government and media that in order to help save the planet we have to reduce our consumption, our waste and ultimately our carbon footprint. Here we discuss how to reduce your footprint both whilst travelling and at home. 

 

It is not always clear where to start with reducing your emissions and how to know you are actually making a difference. This is why our first suggestion is to work out your carbon footprint. Having tried-and-tested a few different apps, below are our tops ones and why we liked them.

  • Capture - this app has the most straightforward setup, asking a few simple questions which are easy to answer. The app tries to automatically track your journeys. This is not always accurate but is easy to add manually. The app also has a 'learn' section with quick-read articles which are updated regularly and it encourages you to offset your footprint through recommended projects.. However, due to the simplicity of the initial questionnaire, the accuracy of the CO2 emissions given is questionable. 

  • Almond - this app has a more thorough initial questionnaire, yet the questions are still fairly easy to answer. The app splits your annual carbon footprint into different categories and works out your percentage of the national average. From here, you can earn 'coins' within the app, one coin = one tree planted and five protected. It then gives you a bar to let you know how much of your annual footprint you have offset using the coins in the app. You can purchase coins, or the app supplies you with a range of web links for brands which you can earn coins for buying from. For example, you can earn one coin on almond for every £5 spent with Planet Warrior yoga & active wear.

  • Warmd - this app has mostly intuitive and easily answered questions. Yet, it is probably the most basic in terms of functionality; it simply aims to calculate your carbon footprint and to allow you to compare your own with averages in the UK and other countries. Again it categorises your footprint and provides generic tips for reducing it, also giving brief information on high level global goals.

Reducing your travel's carbon footprint

A big way to reduce your carbon footprint is to take a look at your travel emissions. Obviously, the ideal situation is to swap driving for cycling where possible and take public transport more often, but this is not always feasible nor desirable. Therefore, we suggest looking into purchasing an electric vehicle (EV).

In 2018 the British Government stated that EVs “have substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional vehicles, even when taking into account the electricity source and the electricity used for battery production." Whilst some things still need to be considered to ensure electric cars are environmentally beneficial (e.g. battery recycling and clean energy), the government are supporting EVs. Moreover, EVs make cities cleaner, quieter and can be cost-efficient long-term, considering the low price of electricity.

Another big travel emission to consider is holidays. Where possible, trains and driving are more environmentally friendly ways to travel to your holiday destination. Another option would be taking a shorter flight and road-tripping the rest of your journey – reduce your carbon footprint and enjoy potentially beautiful views! If you are flying, consider taking fewer, longer holidays and opting for economy class as the carbon emissions are spread across more people, thus reducing your carbon footprint. 

Moreover, you can be more environmentally conscious when choosing your airline. Emirates have an environmental policy on their website in which they highlight their ‘multi-billion dollar investments in the most modern, eco-efficient technology available’. Since the start of 2020 British Airways have fronted the cost to offset the carbon footprint for all UK domestic flights. Parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) – who also own Aer Lingus and Vueling – have committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

Reducing your home's carbon footprint 

There are some obvious ways to reduce your consumption, waste and footprint around the house. These include: planning weekly meals to reduce food waste; avoiding single-use plastics; turning off the tap when brushing your teeth and not unnecessarily disposing of things by flushing them; reducing your consumption of clothes and household items by buying better quality which will last longer. Whilst all these are important, below we have run through some bigger changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Change lights to low-energy bulbs. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent or LED ones.

  • Install a smart meter to see where you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Install water meters to reduce water usage and help identify any leaks.

  • Install heating timers and thermostats.

  • Reduce the amount of heat lost from your house by insulating your loft and walls, triple glazing your windows and draught-proofing doors, windows and floors.

  • Invest in energy and water efficient appliances, such as a dual-flush toilet, an induction hob or white goods with high energy ratings such as A++ or A+++.

  • Install under-floor heating, one of the most effective ways to heat your home as 100% of the energy used goes towards heating your living space, unlike the traditional radiator which is inefficient at heating large rooms. 

  • Install solar-panels on your roof. Not only will you save money on electricity, there is also a possibility to be paid for the surplus energy that you export back to the grid. 

  • Install an air or ground source heat pump. Despite the upfront cost, these will pay for themselves as you save money on your bills and are eligible for payments from the government through the RHI scheme

If building a new house, ensure high level of air tightness and consider using timber instead of steel or concrete – of all the main building materials timber has the lowest energy consumption and the lowest carbon dioxide emissions.

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