Reducing your Carbon Emissions
This year, January 28th marks International Reduce CO2 Emissions Day. Here’s what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and help protect the planet from climate change…
Climate change and Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Climate change is defined as the long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns on our planet. Whilst small variations in temperatures can be caused naturally by the solar cycle, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is releasing CO2 into the atmosphere at a rate faster than it can be absorbed back into the carbon cycle. This has caused the average global surface temperature to rise by 1.1°C since pre-industrial times due to the intensification of the greenhouse effect, creating a ‘blanket’ of heat trapping gas in the atmosphere.
Image: Human activity is the lead cause of climate change.
1.1°C may not sound like a dramatic amount on the individual scale, however a raise seemingly this small has already had devastating impacts, melting glacier and sea ice and changing global precipitations patterns, resulting in a rise in sea level, floods, droughts and other intense weather conditions affecting people and animals all across the globe.
It is predicted that if climate change carries on at its current rate, later this century we could reach a staggering 2.8°C global temperature increase and experience a rise in sea level of around 10 – 32 inches, which would mean large areas of coastal and low-lying land are lost to the sea, as well as the intensification of weather conditions, in events such as ‘mega-droughts’. Not only will this effect human lives but also the delicate ecosystems that we coexist with, changing habitats, and thus behaviour and distribution of species so much that sadly many will go extinct.
With frightening facts and statistics like these, it is clear to see that something needs to be done about our CO2 emissions, and soon.
Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Emissions
There are so many small changes we can make in our everyday lives to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we emit, and when it comes to a problem on this a global scale its important that everyone tries to do their bit to make a difference, no matter how small it may seem.
In the UK 22% of our total carbon emissions originate from powering our homes, through heating, lighting and appliances, followed closely by travel. Whilst a lot of this is unavoidable in our modern lives, it is possible to reduce this amount in a way that isn’t impactful on our day-to-day. Here’s 5 ways you can make small changes in your household towards a better future:
1) Make your home more energy efficient
Investing in good insulation and draught exclusion within your home is a great way to save on heating bills and the carbon emissions that go alongside them, keeping all the heat inside your home in the winter, and it nice and cool in summer.
Despite being pretty obvious, making sure to turn off lights and appliances when you’re not using them is an energy saving essential which can not only help save the planet but reduce your electricity bill too, meaning you aren’t paying for energy that you’re not even using!
Image: Turning off appliances is a simple way to reduce your CO2 emissions.
Getting a smart metre is a great way to monitor how much energy you are using within your home and is usually free of charge from your supplier. It can help you know when you are using too much energy and make better energy saving decisions.
2) Travel more efficiently
Cutting out the use of a car would be impossible for many people, whether it’s a necessity for commuting to work or get to the shops, however, there are many easy ways to be more intuitive about the way we travel to reduce our CO2 emissions.
When a car isn’t necessary, leave it at home, especially for journeys that are walkable and can help you get your daily steps in too, improving your health. Travelling via bus and train are also much more energy efficient than driving yourself, with one journey carrying lots of people and thus reducing the emissions from extra cars on the roads.
3) Shop sustainably
We’re all guilty of loving a bargain or getting involved in the latest fads or trends occasionally, however impulse shopping habits like this can be extremely detrimental to the environment. Unethical businesses such as fast fashion companies (which account for 10% of global pollution and 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions every year!) encourage their customers to buy cheaply made products in mass, with reduced prices and endless sales, that not only contributes to carbon emissions through their production and shipping but are also produced in factories with extremely poor working conditions and pay for the workers.
Learning to shop more sustainably is something we all need to do to help respond to the climate crisis, so next time you see what looks like an amazing deal consider just why it can be sold for so cheap and question whether it’s something you really need or if the deal is persuading you more than anything else.
Supporting local and small businesses can be a great way to shop more sustainably, as well as help grow the local economy and high street where you live.
Image: Use your car less to reduce carbon emissions.
4) Reduce your waste
Whilst single use plastic containers and water bottles may be convenient, the impact they have on the planet far outweighs this. Not only do single use plastics pollute the environment, they also require high amounts of energy to produce and recycle which contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. Investing in a good reusable water bottle or coffee cup is a great way to keep you hydrated on the go without costing the planet, as well as using less cling film when packing lunches or storing leftovers, opting for a reusable wrap or Tupperware to protect your food instead.
Reducing food waste can also aid the fight against climate change. Rotting food waste produces a gas called methane which is 28 times more powerful than CO2 at warming the planet. There are several ways that you can reduce food waste in your household and most of them are relatively simple, from planning out your meals and doing your weekly shop accordingly, to getting creative with leftovers and making them into some delicious new dishes. Our business operates on a closed-loop sustainability system, which helps reduce our food waste, making use of it instead, find out more here.
Image: Composting is a great way to use food waste in a productive way.
To prevent any food waste you do produce going into landfill, composting in your garden can be a great idea, reducing methane emissions compared to landfill sites, and also helping reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the long run. By putting compost down in your garden, it can not only help you grow some delicious produce but also improve soil health, which will encourage further growth and in turn, more photosynthesis, removing CO2 from the atmosphere. As well as this, healthy soils can sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, absorbing and trapping it so it doesn’t contribute to global warming. Find out about how our own Market Garden uses compost to grow our organic produce here.
5) Eat more sustainably
Making sustainable food choices can help you lower your carbon footprint and have numerous other benefits for the environment, as well as introducing your tastebuds to a whole new realm of deliciousness.
Eating organic produce is one of the most environmentally conscious decisions you can make when it comes to food, minimising the negative impacts that intensive farming practices have on the planet and instead supporting the environment. Organic farms work with nature instead of against it, not using harmful artificial pesticides and fertilisers which not only pollute the environment, but also are often fossil fuel based themselves and incredibly energy intensive to produce. A study has found that organic farms use on average 45% less energy than conventional farms, growing their crops and rearing livestock in a natural way as opposed to the intensive conditions on other farms that aim to maximise yield and profit with little regard to the planet or their animals.
As mentioned previously, the healthy soils nurtured by organic farms such as our own help store CO2 from the atmosphere meaning less enters the atmosphere. Healthy soils also make organic farms more resilient to the effects of climate change, such as drought, and so more productive under these conditions than conventional farms. This may mean that organic farming is the farming of the future and something more and more farmers will turn to as a solution to the climate crisis.