Our climate is changing. Every time you travel by car, charge your mobile phone, switch on the TV, run the washing machine or do many other everyday activities, you leave a trail of carbon dioxide and other gases – basically you leave a carbon footprint. These emissions build up in the atmosphere, drive up temperatures, contribute to global warming and speed up climate change.
These gases, primarily carbon dioxide, are known as greenhouse gases as they trap the heat from the sun in our atmosphere leading to a rise in global temperature.
The effects of this have led to more extreme weather patterns with more storms, stronger winds, heavier rainfall and also more droughts.
Climate change is a serious problem with severe consequences. It is warming the oceans and melting the ice caps. Some countries are at risk from flooding as sea levels rise, yet others suffer from almost permanent drought. Climate change also affects our ability to grow crops to feed a growing global population. We all need to help in preventing further climate change.
Think about your carbon footprint!
A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide – released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity. We all have a carbon footprint, but everyone’s footprint will be different depending on individual lifestyle
Transport is the biggest source of carbon emissions – if we walk or cycle rather than use a car, train or bus and never use air travel, then our carbon footprint will be a lot smaller than someone who uses all these modes of transport.
Energy; where we get it from and how we use it, is also another major part of a households carbon footprint. Its difficult times at the moment with regard energy prices and suppliers, but we hope this will change sooner rather than later. In the meantime its worth considering ensuring your home is well insulated, this will reduce your heating bills, but also reduces our carbon emissions and our carbon footprint.
Food; what we eat, where it comes from and how much we waste contributes to our footprint too. As well as buying stuff!
How can we reduce our carbon footprint and help slow climate change? Some tips:
- Download our Challenge (above) and see how many activities you can complete?
- Leave the car at home for a day. Walk or bike short distances to schools, shops or the gym. Or if you are comfortable with this, use public transportation.
- Consider having a shower rather than a bath – it can save the average family about £400 per year.
- Use energy-efficient appliances and reduce their electricity usage by turning off unneeded lights and avoid leaving computers, monitors and phones on charge unnecessarily.
- Reduce home heat loss, by keeping internal/external doors and windows closed. And read more here from the Energy Saving Trust. See if you are able to get a grant here.
- No need to cut it out, but eat less meat and dairy – these have a higher carbon footprint than fruit and vegetables.
- Consume food, ideally locally produced, that doesn’t require as much transportation. Avoid perishables, out of season, that will have been air freighted.
- Avoid wasting food (read handy hints here) – freeze or compost your leftovers. Food waste causes about 3% of carbon emissions. It costs the average family about £600 per year. Save money on a composter here.
- Minimise buying new clothes and donate old clothers to your local charity shop.
- Recycle more, read more here.
- Consider planting a tree in your garden – they sequester (lock in) carbon.
- Collect rainwater in a barrel to water your plants and save water, read more here.
Some somewhat harder things to do, but worth considering if you can;
- Drive electric (compare electric vehicles here) or other more efficient vehicles (or make sure that your current vehicle is properly maintained).
- When applicable again, use a green energy supplier for your gas and electricity.
- Consider fitting solar panels which provide green electricity and can also provide hot water. Keep an eye on blogs like this, read more.