Decided that your New Year’s Resolution is to reduce your carbon footprint and be mindful of the environment? You’ve come to the right place! This week, we’ve rounded up 20 changes you can make to your everyday routine to live a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle…
Cut back on meat
Those taking part in Veganuary aren’t just doing it for health reasons or clout on Instagram - they’re aware that meat is responsible for 18% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Eat low on the food chain - that means more fruits, vegetables, and grains - and buy your food local. If we all bought local, there’d be less need to transport food by ship, rail, plane or truck.
Compost your food
Rather than throwing out leftover and out-of-date food and drink, compost it and reduce your landfill footprint. Most food can be composted, including cooked meat, vegetables, cheese, fat, and oil, using the Bokashi anaerobic composting system. All that unwanted food can be converted into nutrient-rich compost for your houseplants and garden; great for the planet!
Buy in bulk
Challenge yourself to do a weekly food shop. No popping to the convenience store for those forgotten items. Buy food in bulk as much as possible, and shop with reusable containers rather than relying on prepackaged ingredients. Better yet, build a pantry and stock up on everyday essentials; you’ll be less likely to travel and buy snacks and unnecessary items.
Wash clothes in cold water
If you do two loads of laundry on a cold wash every week, you could save over 200 kgs worth of carbon dioxide per year. That’s a crazy figure. Look for detergents that work well with cold water or make your own using Borax, washing soda, and scented soap.
Cut out fast fashion
It’s so tempting to head to the high street for a new outfit whenever you’re invited to a party or you’re going on a date. Changing your relationship with fashion and only buying quality, long-lasting garments that can be worn in different ways will help reduce the £140 million worth of clothing that goes into the landfill in the UK every year. Reuse, recycle, buy quality merchandise rather than cheap, throwaway garments, and depend on second-hand shops.
Support environmentally-aware businesses
Research your favourite brands’ views and policies on the environment. Though most major corporations now recycle and are working to reduce plastic packaging and waste, some are better than others. Vote with your feet and seek out smaller, independent brands that go above and beyond for the planet, like the eco-friendly clothing offered here at Ultra Tee.
Replace old bulbs
Incandescent bulbs waste 90% of their energy as heat, so replace every bulb in your home with an LED alternative. Though bulbs are more expensive, you can save £240 per year on energy bills making the switch, reducing your household’s carbon emissions in the process.
We all love a warm, powerful shower at the end of a busy day, but the vast majority of the water that comes out of our shower heads goes straight down the plughole, without even touching us. Install a low-flow showerhead to reduce water waste and carbon emissions from heating wasted water - research shows you can save 160 kgs of carbon per year.
Change your driving
Though walking and public transport are preferable, if you do have to drive to work or the shops, try to avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking, which can increase emissions and use more fuel. Take it easy on the roads and combine trips to reduce your time on the road.
Air travel accounts for 2.5% of all carbon emissions, and though it’s a relatively low figure when compared with other forms of transport, it’s often unnecessary. Consider replacing leisure trips abroad with staycations - explore your own country and boost domestic tourism.
If you’re buying your first house or a new car, research the energy efficiency beforehand.
For example, do you need a four-bedroom property if only two of you are going to live there, and do you need a large four-by-four car when a smaller, eco-friendly model would suffice?
Offset your carbon
Though this tip won’t necessarily reduce your footprint, it will help to lower it overall. If you do have to fly, buy a car, or wear fast fashion, offset your carbon by donating to a charity. You can calculate your emissions and then donate to an organisation like the Woodland Trust.
Join a community project
Whether it’s a beach clean morning or a community tree planting day, look for projects and events taking place near you and sign up. And if you can’t find one, consider organising your own - get your friends and likeminded eco-warriors together and make a difference locally.
Buy green energy
Switching to an eco-friendly energy provider can save 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year, according to a study from Science Magazine. In the UK, companies such as Bulb, Npower, OVO, Octopus Energy, Co-Op Energy, and Outfox the Market are major players.
If you’ve got to go into town to do some shopping or visit your friends in another city, avoid travelling in rush hour and go when it’s quiet instead. You’ll spend less time waiting around in traffic (or fighting for that last seat on the tube) and can even save money on ticket prices.
Choose ENERGY STAR products
When you’re replacing your dishwasher, washing machine or fridge, look for ENERGY STAR labels, which demonstrate superior energy efficiency. Have your old machines collected by a charity to ensure that any working appliances don’t go to waste; if they're broken, recycle!
Switch off your devices
The average UK household wastes £86 a year by leaving electronics on standby mode.
Known as “vampire power” (as in, hungrily sucking energy from your sockets) consumers around the world are unnecessarily spending money, and wasting energy, on powering their TVs, phones, computers, and smart hubs. When a device is not in use, turn it off at the wall.
Plant some greens
Another way to give back to the planet is to cultivate your garden. Plants can absorb carbon dioxide, indoors and outdoors, whilst some flowers attract bees and other wildlife, which are essential to Planet Earth and our survival. Head to the local garden centre and see what you find, and opt for low-maintenance shrubs and evergreens if you’re not green-fingered.
Did you know that tumble dryers use five times more electricity than washing machines? In the warmer months, hang your clothes on the line to dry naturally, and bring them indoors on clothes horses and the radiators during the winter. Save money and cut your energy usage.
Curtains aren’t just for privacy - they help lower your energy consumption and keep you cool. In the warmer months, close your curtains to lower your room’s temperature, without having to rely on AC or an energy-sucking fan, and in the winter, draw them to stop the heat inside your home leaking out - so long as your radiators aren’t installed underneath your windows.
These twenty techniques should help you to reduce your carbon footprint and lead a greener life. Do you have any others to add to the list? Join in the conversation on social media and check back soon for more from the Ultra Tee team; we post new articles every two weeks!