Carbon emissions and their effect on greenhouse gases and climate change have long been at the top of the global agenda, but many of us don’t know where to start in doing our bit. It can all seem so big and impossible to make a difference, yet there are several things we can do to help. From making energy-saving adjustments to our home lives to introducing small ecological changes at work and encouraging young people to live sustainably by leading by example at school.
Read in to discover ten easy pieces of advice to help you reduce our energy use, minimise our carbon footprint and generally help protect and preserve the world in which we live.
How to reduce carbon footprint at home
An easy way to decrease your carbon footprint is to buy food, ingredients and anything else you might need as locally as possible. Research where and when your local farmers’ markets open and get to know the shops and businesses in your immediate vicinity. Try not to automatically reach for the internet to buy what you need. The fewer the miles that products travel, the lower their impact on climate change will be.
Try to keep your fridge, kitchen and home stocked with locally produced items as much as you can and always shop responsibly to ensure that you know exactly what you are eating, and that unethical farming and non-sustainable production practices can be stamped out wherever possible.
Travel more sustainably
Recent coronavirus-related events aside, we all need to travel away from home for various reasons, distances and time periods. Cars, trains, planes and other forms of transport all have an impact on greenhouse gases and carbon emissions due to the fuel that is burned. There are all kinds of ways to travel more responsibly, from taking public transport over a gas-guzzling car and making the switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle engine to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Don’t forget the surfaces on which you travel too. Keeping them in good condition will help reduce wear and tear on vehicles and so keep performance and fuel consumption at their best. Don’t use products that can be corrosive or damaging to them, such as rock salt to clear ice in the winter. Opting for a safer, more environmentally-friendly alternative such as EcoGrit Concentrate will help you to do your bit when it comes to clearing icy roads responsibly.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
This alliterative phrase has been around for a while now, but that doesn’t lessen its importance. It generally takes more energy to make new products than it does to recycle or reuse existing materials and the recycling process also cuts down on the amount of waste we send to the landfill as a planet. Less litter also helps with the wider environment, keeping the Earth’s delicate habitats safe and clean for wildlife and helping to minimise carbon emissions.
Simple ways to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ at home include taking your own cloth or paper bags shopping and turning raw food waste into compost for the garden. Washing out plastic pots for future storage is a useful tip, as is saving envelopes and the backs of letters you no longer need for making lists and notes on.
Watch your water use
Using a lot of water at home puts pressure not only on the water and sewage systems, but it wastes energy and affects your carbon footprint. Try a few simple changes, such as only filling the kettle with as much water as you need for your morning cuppa or for cooking pasta, rice or vegetables for dinner. Take showers instead of baths and turn the tap off while you are brushing your teeth, rather than letting it run the whole time.
If you have the outdoor space, consider collecting rainwater in a suitable container – this can be used to flush the toilet or to water the garden. You can also save lightly used water to clean the car or to wash down the patio outside, so long as there are no chemicals present that could harm the nearby wildlife, such as rock salt.
How to reduce carbon footprint at work
We all know the importance of taking regular rest breaks at work to become more productive and avoid burn-out, but the same applies to our electrical appliances. Turn off computers, printers, photocopiers and the like at the mains when you leave the office at night to save electricity and allow everything to cool down. The same goes for lunchtimes if you are in the habit of leaving your desk for the entire hour – a good habit to get into, by the way – switch off your IT equipment to save energy and reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint.
Lighting and heating
The same goes for your office’s lighting and heating. Leaving lights burning and radiators blasting out heat when no-one is there is a sure-fire way to waste energy and increase your commercial carbon footprint. Nominate someone to check on this, especially when the office shuts for a longer period, such as Christmas or during the summer holidays. Install a thermostat if you don’t have one already to keep a firmer control on the amount of heat being produced. Don’t let it all escape through opened windows.
Another useful way to keep a lid on wasted light usage is to install motion-sensors that turn lights off automatically after a short period of time with no movement being detected in the room. This is a simple, yet highly effective way to save a surprisingly large amount of money on your electricity bills. Plus, there is the option of switching to LED lighting, which requires less energy to operate and produces high enough levels of light for an organisation to function all year round.
Be socially aware
Corporate social responsibility is a big part of many companies that recognised their duty towards their wider community and helping those in society who are in need of a hand, financially or otherwise. Here is another great avenue for working more responsibly. Support energy-saving charities and organisations seeking to make a difference and fight climate change, from green pressure groups to charities offsetting energy use with tree planting and similar ecologically sound initiatives.
There are many ways in which you can support groups like these, from raising money to donate to their latest fundraising campaign to volunteering as a group of employees, or on an individual basis, for a day, week or even longer on an energy-saving related project.
How to reduce carbon footprint at school
It’s never too early to start learning about how to reduce your carbon footprint and school is an excellent place to teach the younger generation about energy efficiency and sustainable living. Lead by example by installing LED lighting, motion-detection sensors and another energy-saving measures in the classrooms and public spaces. Have a recycling station where the pupils are encouraged to deposit used paper and plastic or cardboard packaging from their school projects and packed lunches.
Think about outdoor spaces too. Can the school install solar panels or introduce rainwater butts to save water? What about creating a wildlife garden to teach the children about the flowers, insects and animals that share their school space? You could introduce bird boxes, bug hotels and wildflower meadows too, to encourage wildlife into the school.
Cars and vehicles pose many dangers to children, not least when they are arriving and leaving school and the start and end of the day. From driving too fast to parking dangerously, drivers are often too concerned with the movements of their own progeny to notice the wider effect that their actions could be having. Think about introducing measures to discourage driving too close to the school, such as barriers, no parking zones and warning notices.
One step further (quite literally, kin this case) would be to start a campaign to encourage walking to school, at least for some of the distance. Get the kids to design posters, talk to their families and learn facts about walking to get more families to ditch the car in favour of Shanks’ Pony. This has the dual benefit of reducing carbon emissions at the same timer as helping people to stay fit, healthy and active.
Knowledge is power
Finally, capture young imaginations by teaching your pupils all about climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases and the many and varied ways they can help reduce their own carbon footprint at school and at home. You may well be surprised by the ideas they come up with and the passion they feel for protecting the planet, reducing pollution and saving precious natural resources.
How Ecogrit concentrate can help
If you are keen to know more about how treating icy roads in an ecological, non-corrosive way to reduce your own carbon footprint this winter, visit EcoGrit online to find out more about its long-lasting, effective, organically derived de-icing solution.