Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide an individual releases into the atmosphere as a result of personal activities such as travelling, heating, cooking, bathing and so on. You can calculate your carbon footprint manually, or simply use a free online calculator.
As global warming becomes more and more evident, it is our responsibility as inhabitants of mother earth to play our part and help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Over the years, the occurrence of natural disasters caused by extreme climatic changes
have resulted in displacement of populations, loss of habitats and disruptions in ecosystems around the world. Human activities such as farming, fuel combustion, deforestation and various industrial processes have accelerated climate change through the increased release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Geological records dating back thousands of years have shown that earth naturally undergoes extreme changes in climate, moving in and out of ice ages and warm periods. However, what most individuals (clears throat*Trump*) fail to understand is that "we are accelerating this climate change," the changes we are experiencing are not natural.
Although global warming is seemingly irreversible now, conducting sustainable and efficient business and farming practices could slow down the effects of climate change and help us preserve crucial ecosystems and a healthy earth for future generations.
Before the Simpson's producers end up with another accurate prediction and we find ourselves trapped in a glass dome orchestrated by the Environmental Protection Agency, let's work together to fight global warming by making small changes in our daily habits and being more mindful of mother earth by incorporating the 6 R's (Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair) in our lifestyles. Here are a few easy ways to make your impact in the global fight against climate change:
Choose organic and fair trade produce
According to OWD (Our World in Data), 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food production. Selecting locally grown, organic and fair trade consumer goods benefits not only you, but the environment and farmers too. It helps in the socioeconomic development of local communities, prevents harmful chemicals used in pesticides and artificial fertilisers from disrupting soil fertility over time, polluting water and air, soil erosion and releasing harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that exacerbate climate change. Picking fruits and vegetables that are in season, is a good way to avoid produce that is heavily dependent on artificial fertilisers. Better yet, you could grow your own vegetables and fruits!
Supporting local farmers and communities to practice sustainable farming methods creates further leeway for governments to fund research in agroforestry, implementing toolkits and frameworks to enhance smart land management practices thereby reducing the need for pesticides and artificial fertilisers, you can learn more about this here.
2. Support sustainable brands
The alarming changes in the environment are forcing major industries to innovate and be more sustainable. The fashion industry for instance, has long been identified as a major contributor to water, air and soil pollution. A 2017 analysis on the benefits of innovation and collaboration for sustainability in the fashion industry by Boston Consulting Group (Hire me, please) indicated that the fashion industry, had a low measure of sustainability (pulse score) of 32 out of 100. Fast forward to 2020, and major brands such as Zara, H&M, Adidas and Levis among others, made the choice to innovate, adapt to needs and create sustainable clothing.
The same notion can be applied to other industries such as skincare, where ethical and environmentally friendly brands such as Upcircle, Conscious Skin and Evolve have created a mission to create clean, green skincare.
As more and more businesses are practicing sustainability, the choices and prices are becoming wider and lower respectively, benefiting consumers. It all comes down to personal choice and being more mindful about what you put back into the earth, if you make the effort to research, you will find organic, green brands.
3. Join tree-planting groups, donate and create climate change awareness
Planting trees is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help increase carbon sequestration. Join various sustainability groups, support charities by donating or volunteering and create awareness of climate change, social media is a powerful tool!
4. Cut down electricity consumption
Again, it just comes down to being mindful. Small changes such as switching off the lights, boiling the exact amount of water you need in a kettle, turning off the tv when you aren't really watching (yes, I mean "Netflix & Chill too"), hanging the washing out to dry instead of using the tumbler, contribute to lower energy use and in turn a lower carbon footprint. According to Carbon Footprint reducing the heating by even 1⁰C reduces your energy consumption by 8%.
These healthy habits soon embed in your daily routine and become your way of a greener lifestyle.
5. Refuse Single use plastic
Single use plastics are made from fossil fuel based chemicals and as the title suggests can only be used once then disposed off. Some examples of single use plastics include straws, wrappers, plastic bags, wet wipes, drinking bottles, plastic lids, plastic bottle caps etc. Depending on the type of plastic, it could take between 30-500 years to degrade! Let's not forget to mention the devastating effects these plastics have on marine life.
Opting for re-usable, cleaner, sustainable products can help the environment and aquatic life.
For instance, consider switching to re-usable shopping bags, using metal/bamboo drinking straws or refusing straws at cafes/restaurants, using bamboo toothbrushes, re-usable metal water bottles, refusing wipes, being mindful while grocery shopping and opting for less plastic in packaging.
6. Travel green
Travelling smarter creates benefits for you and the environment. There are a number of ways you can do this:
- walk to your destination if it is within a considerable distance. Walks also benefit your health and wellbeing
- Car poole if you can, less cars means less GHG (Greenhouse gas) emissions
- Use public transport
- When flying look for low emission flights
- Choose electric vehicles. The UK plans to ban petrol, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid model cars in 2030, allowing the purchase of only electric vehicles.
7. If you own a business, make environmental sustainability an important part of your infrastructure
Lastly, applying the 6 R's to your business will help you make a change in your carbon footprint. Think about your business model, supply chain or product, is it causing harm to the environment or people? If yes, rethink your whole strategy and apply more sustainable and environmentally friendly techniques. Opt for recyclable and re-usable products, green energy, create environmental awareness and educate others!
Small changes yield huge results! As Vilfredo Pareto stipulated, 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. Let your 20% of causes be green and clean for an 80% consequential reduction in your carbon footprint.
What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint? Is there anything you do differently that isn't mentioned above? Let me know in the comments below!