13 Strategies for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

by Lindsay Wilson in Discussion

Personal Carbon Budgets

Every person in the world has a carbon footprint.

But our carbon footprints vary greatly depending on where we live, how wealthy we are, our lifestyle and what energy we have access to.

Personal spending on housing, travel, food, products and services pays for two thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions. And people have the power to drastically reduce their own personal footprint if they choose to.

Here are some ideas to do just that from our new eBook ‘Emit This‘:

1. Get some perspective

Half the average American’s personal footprint results from just four things: driving, electricity, natural gas and red meat. Calculating your own carbon footprint will help you prioritize the easiest ways to improve your footprint.

2. Stuff your face

In wealthier countries consumer food waste is around 100kg a year per person, or about 20% of total food supply.  If we simply eat more of the food we buy we cut our foodprint, our grocery bills and our trash production.

3. Eat the earth

A serving of red meat or cheese can have a carbon intensity more than ten times higher than a low carbon grain or fruit.  Eating more low carbon foods can slash your foodprint and improve your diet.

4. Make yourself comfortable

A super insulated Passivhaus uses just one tenth of the heating energy of a modern house.  Improving insulation and air-tightness in your home will lower emissions, cut heating bills and improve comfort.

5. Let your home chill out

If you drop your thermostat by 1ºC (1.8ºF) in winter you’ll use about 10% less heat.  By heating the rooms you need at the times you need them you can reduce your heating emissions and bills.

6. Get on your bike

Electrified public transport, full buses and bicycles are typically the lowest carbon forms of transport.   For cars, using a hybrid or electric car with low carbon electricity can more than halve driving emissions.

7. Love your local

Flying can rack up huge carbon footprints in a hurry.  Any avoided flight will take a chunk out of your carbon footprint.   Quitting flying altogether is tough, but flying less frequently is often easier to achieve.

8. Buy great stuff

A low carbon product can be second hand, use low carbon materials, be extremely efficient or just so damn good that it lasts ages. Choosing quality over quantity is a good place to start cutting product emissions.

9. Do more with less

Low carbon electricity is central to living well on a small carbon budget.  If your grid mix is quite carbon intensive then producing or buying it is a great way to reduce your footprint.

10. Watch your watts

The average American, Australian or Canadian consumes about ten times more electricity in their home than a Chinese or Indian does.  If you really watch your watts you may be able to take chunks off your usage and its footprint.

11. Pay the man

Services are the least carbon intensive way to spend money.  By paying people more and spending less on fuel, power or food you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

12. Pick other fruit

Carbon offsets are controversial with good reason.  But if they are correctly motivated and well researched they can be a cost effective way to reduce emissions, over and above your own footprint.

13. Tap your talent

Mankind produces greenhouse gas emissions in a great diversity of ways, so the solutions must also be diverse.  We each have unique talents we can bring to the climate challenge, so what are you waiting for?

These 13 steps are a short summary of our new eBook ‘Emit This‘.

If you enjoyed this post you will simply love it, so go grab your copy.

Don't forget to grab your free copy of our eBook, Emit This.

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  • Laurence Webb

    Many good points thanks! Always interesting to be reminded of the individual electricity consumption of average Westerner vs many in Asia. Although I guess the rich/poor gulf in places like China means in many instances Westerners are using a good 20 times more electricity. That’s just a guess. I’m not sure if there’s data on rural Chinese people’s electricity consumption…?!

  • johnBas5

    One very good way to reduce heating electricity is using a heat pump.
    This coupled with good isolation can really slash your heating bill!s.

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