So you’ve decided on some killer new years resolutions to improve your life? Ways to make you a happier, healthier and more well-rounded person? Great, now may I also suggest you add one more to that list – one about reducing your carbon footprint?
Global warming is sometimes an abstract and invisible thing (even with the unseasonably warm Christmas here in the UK) and therefore can be easy to overlook. It is all too easy to see it as problem that’s TOO big – something you personally have no control over. But you’re wrong, so stop right there!
If everyone changed one little thing to improve their carbon footprint – it would add up to one massive change overall. I’ve outlined some of the easiest things you can do this year to improve your carbon footprint, so do them, share them and save the world.
All these steps are about being more environmentally conscious, rather then completely changing habits – by slightly altering our actions and way of thinking we can begin to take better care of our planet.
1.Eat less beef and dairy.
As we’ve spoken about before at Unite, cows are an extremely inefficient energy source –the entire process of getting beef to your table takes up far more energy then you get by eating them. Animal agriculture is responsible for a whopping 18 per cent of our entire greenhouse gas emissions. So giving up meat is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your carbon footprint. If you can’t commit to full vegetarianism, try to cut down to eating meat two to three times a week, and sign up to Meat Free Week here. If you need more persuading, watch ‘cowspiracy’ and take a look at these terrifying stats are available here. Also, side note, Richard Branson has given up beef. So should you.
2.Buy less food.
Now that you’re looking for alternative meals (since giving up or cutting down on beef) – why not make a concerted effort to reduce your food wastage? Almost 50 per cent of the total amount of food thrown away in the UK is from our homes – this works out as costing the average UK household £470 a year in wasted food.
There are two main reasons why it is thrown away: 1. We make too much of it and 2. We don’t use it in time. The biggest food offenders are fruits, vegetables and bakery items. So get into the habit of planning meals in advance, cutting down on portion sizes, and asking yourself – “do I need to buy that extra carrot?” Find out more here.
3. Change your commute – walk, cycle or carpool.
While walking or cycling to work is a lot harder to do in winter (due to the warmth of your bed and fear of possible frostbite), why not make an aim for yourself in summer to walk or cycle to work at least once a week? Not only will this help you burn off some of your winter insulation, but it will also allow you to explore your local community. If your work is too far to cycle or walk to – why not get off a stop earlier or look into carpooling options?
We all know we should do it, but in many cases (up to 50 per cent of the time) we still don’t ! So, clear out your wardrobe, get out some bin liners and start saving the planet.
5. Go on a staycation.
When it comes to planning for a holiday – why not look for something a little closer to home? I’m not saying stay at home necessarily, but why not take a look around your country with the eyes of a tourist. If you really need some geographical distance – try to fly less or fly for shorter periods – preferably to countries with a good stance on carbon emissions (Costa Rica – we’re looking at you!)
6. Plant a tree.
While on your staycation – plant a tree! A single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. You can also ‘digitally’ plant trees, by donating online. On a tiny tree planting scale – why not buy potted herbs for cooking rather then buying dried or pre-cut herbs? This cuts down on packaging and also improves your cooking. 50 per cent of the cost of food products is the packaging, which is ultimately thrown away.
7. Unsubscribe from junk mail.
As well as being seriously annoying, getting junk post also wastes a massive amount of paper. It is possible to opt out. If you live in the UK, you can opt out at the mailing preference service. It’s also worth signing up to electronic billing where possible – some companies even charge you less if you switch.
8. Change to energy saving lightbulbs.
Gone are the days when eco or LED bulbs were expensive and emitted a dim half-light. Nowadays, LED bulbs are cost effective, bright and only use 20 per cent of the energy of a normal lightbulb. They also last a lot longer, resulting in spending less time balancing on ladders, changing your bulbs.
9. Make sure your car tires are properly inflated.
This will increase the fuel efficiency of your car, cutting your costs and your carbon footprint. And while you’re at it, try to also use cruise control whenever possible.
And…….. breathe – wait no, stop emitting Co2, you monster!
– This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.