To reduce your carbon footprint is an individual way to help stop climate change. Whereas climate change is ‘out there’, reducing your carbon footprint is a list of things that you can do, to do your bit to reduce your impact on the planet, and also live a simpler, happier and more affordable life.
So what is a carbon footprint? It’s simply the emissions that you emit: via how you live, what you buy (and what you don’t buy). Industry does emit a lot more emissions, but we will be waiting a long time for business to change (2 words: airlines, Coronavirus). So it’s up to us to start change from the grassroots, and this will affect daily life instead. If people decide a walk in the park is better than 2 weeks getting drunk in Spain, after flying across the water to ‘enjoy themselves’, then eventually the airlines will have to change their own business model. A study in Environmental Research Letters was clear in the most effective ways we can collectively reduce our carbon footprint: have less children, drive less, eat more plants and stop flying. Just these four habit changes does more than all the recycling in the world.
Make a Difference with Smart Living
So let’s start with Mukti Mitchell’s free carbon calculator. Voted the best in the world, Mukti is the son of ecological writer Satish Kumar (editor of Resurgence magazine) and once built a zero-emission micro yacht, and sailed it around the British Isles (his trip was endorsed by the Prime Minister and Prince of Wales). After starting a company to insulated old listed homes, he is now focused on his current project to help people be carbon-literate.
With his friend environmentalist Darren Hall, they have created Smart Living, to promote how to improve the quality of life, while reducing your carbon footprint. His beautifully illustrated Smart Living Guide has 10 steps including food, heating, transport, holidays and products. There are also ‘chapters of life’ focused on health, nature, communities, energy, homes, money and resources. Some actions are:
- Insulate your home to be warmer & save bills
- If you fly, visit closer places (or visit less often).
- Downsize your car to a fuel-efficient vehicle
- Walk or cycle to work, or share lifts
- Buy high-quality items that last
- Switch to a greener energy company
- Buy local seasonal organic food
- Eat more plants, less meat & dairy
- Learn to repair goods yourself
- Take public transport (trains, buses)
Everyone needs a roof over their heads, food on their plates and clothes to wear. But every pound we spend is an opportunity to make a difference, and that difference can be positive or negative, depending on your choice. Being a conscious consumer shouldn’t be a ‘nice to have’ just for people who can afford it, so we are going to work really hard to find ways of making it affordable for everyone. Smart Living
Books to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint is a no-preachy guide, packed with tips
- SOS: What You Can Do To Reduce Climate Change
- 50 Ways to Help the Planet is a fun little illustrated guide by Siân Berry
- Wearing Smaller Shoes is a lovely little book of common sense tips
- Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning is by journalist George Monbiot
The scale of the mess we leave behind, is proportionate to the level of respect we have for others. Stewart Stafford