Tackling climate change will require world leaders to act globally.
But as individuals we also contribute to harmful emissions. Here are some things you can do to reduce your personal impact.
1. Insulate your home
From installing a heat pump to cutting down heat, there are a number of changes in the home that can help the planet.
“Switching from a gas or oil-fired heating system to an electric heat pump makes a huge difference,” according to Dr Neil Jennings, an academic at Imperial College London.
“Turning off lights and appliances when not in daily use can help us save money while reducing our impact on climate change.”
The UK government will offer grants of £ 5,000 for the installation of heat pumps starting in April 2022.
We can change our homes by improving the insulation of walls, ceilings and windows.
Waterproofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy, according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST). This involves blocking unwanted gaps that let cold air in and hot air out, such as around windows, doors, or baseboards.
EST estimates draft sealing could save £ 25 a year on household bills.
Switching to a green energy provider or green tariff can significantly reduce your family’s carbon footprint. But a recent hike in the wholesale energy price means that many suppliers have withdrawn their offers.
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2. Eliminate food waste and cut back on red meat
Livestock creates 14% of all greenhouse gases, with cattle by far the largest contributor.
The simplest and most effective way to limit the impact is to reduce meat and dairy products in the diet, especially red meat such as lamb and beef.
Good news for vegans, of course, but there are other considerations to consider.
It’s not just about “labeling individual products as good or bad,” says University of Aberdeen biologist Margaret Gill.
He says that the carbon footprint of a particular food also depends on how it is produced, where it comes from and whether it is in season.
Dr Jonathan Foley, who studies solutions to climate change, says you can save money and reduce waste making smaller portions and storing leftovers for later at home.
The world wastes between 25% and 30% of its food, according to the Action program on waste and resources.
3. Drive less, fly less
Transportation is responsible for nearly a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Living without a car may be “the most effective thing we can do to reduce transport emissions,” according to Dr. Jennings.
However, ditching your car isn’t possible for everyone, particularly if you live in an area without good public transport or work night shifts when it’s not in operation.
Small steps still have an impact, such as walking and cycling to local shops or sharing car journeys with friends or neighbors.
Electric cars are becoming more popular, but they are still expensive. And it’s a truly ecological journey only if the electricity used to power the car comes from green energy sources, such as wind or solar. Low carbon sources constituted 58% of UK electricity in 2020, including nuclear.
Unfortunately for passionate travelers, flying is one of the most carbon-intensive things we can do as individuals.
Domestic flights have the highest emissions per person per kilometer.
Rail travel can have less than a fifth of the impact of a domestic flight, although it could be more expensive. Booking in advance can help reduce costs.
“For those who fly a lot, reducing the number of flights you take will make a huge difference to your personal footprint,” says Dr. Jennings.
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4. Think before you buy
It takes 3,781 liters of water to make a pair of jeans, according to United Nations Environment Program, taking into account the production, manufacture, transport and washing of cotton.
You can limit your impact by repairing small flaws in clothing rather than replacing them, donating rather than throwing away and choosing higher quality items that you believe will last longer.
A growing number of companies offer clothing for hire, which helps reduce waste in the fashion industry. You could also try buying second hand.
Choosing the right appliances can also have a positive effect on your carbon footprint. Dr. Jennings suggests making sure you buy the most energy-efficient products, such as washing machines, when they need to be replaced.
- Climate change
- Ecological footprint
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