How to reduce your environmental footprint
How to reduce your environmental footprint
We’ve talked before about the environment in our Writer’s Corners, and our writer Brittany is here to add her thoughts into the mix...
With climate change on the rise, it’s important that we consider how we as individuals are contributing to CO2 emissions. Many of us are ignorant or uninformed about the ways in which our day-to-day activities are affecting the environment, and how our actions will impact future generations. Following these few simple changes will not only improve the environment but also your overall individual health and outlook.
What is an environmental footprint?
An environmental footprint, sometimes known as a carbon or ecological footprint, can be described as the ways in which a person’s actions affect the environment. This can be in either positive or negative ways. The more you contribute negatively, such as by producing harmful gases, the bigger your environmental footprint. Therefore, the higher the negative impact you will have on the environment. WWF offers an environmental footprint calculator. This gives you a quick insight into how your everyday life affects your footprint.
The way in which you travel has a huge impact on the environment. This doesn’t just mean whether you travel by car, bike, or walk, it also includes the travel industry itself. The travel sector accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions, and this number is estimated to grow by 4% every year. Flying to places that you can easily reach by land transport is the biggest contributor to these detrimental impacts. Taking a short flight from London to Paris (economy class) emits 58kg of CO2 per passenger.
Instead, opt for land-based travel such as trains and buses if they are available. Although it may seem like a lot of effort at the time, it’ll be worth it in the long run when considering the world we live in. It might even be a cheaper alternative! If you need to take a plane, try to take direct flights where possible. The extra landings and take-offs emit high amounts of carbon, increasing your footprint.
We all know how easy it is to pop into the supermarket on our lunch break and grab a bargain meal deal to keep us going throughout the day. But have you considered how the packaging of these items are contributing to global warming when you throw them in the nearest bin?
Putting your rubbish in your bag and taking it back to work or home to recycle is just one easy step that will help you to reduce your environmental footprint. Just one recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours. Imagine how much money we could save if we all recycled our water bottles!
In relation to cutlery, using metal forks and straws is the perfect option to ensure you are monitoring your plastic use. It takes up to 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose, so the plastic we use is on the planet long after we are. Children want to grow up seeing sea turtles in the ocean, not our Coke straws bobbing out.
There’s substantial evidence to show how recycling your food packaging and the food itself can benefit both individuals and the environment. Some of the key benefits are outlined here. They demonstrate how the world would be much better off if we all made a conscious effort towards these big improvements.
Reducing your home energy emissions is an easy way to save money as well as the planet, of course. Investing in double glazing and insulation can help to warm your home in more natural and cost-effective ways. Especially in comparison to running central heating for hours on end. Installing solar panels on your roof is another way to reduce long-term costs and the issue of coldness. It also lets you reduce your electricity bills in a way which is a truly renewable energy source.
Having a home energy audit completed by a professional or even by yourself is an easy way to determine the ways that you’re wasting energy and where you’re spending the most money. It lets you prioritise how you use your energy and how you can make your home more efficient.
There are many other simple tasks you can do around the house to improve the amount of CO2 you’re contributing to, such as installing a low-flow showerhead, using energy saving light bulbs, or even simply unplugging appliances when you’re finished with them and not leaving them on standby.
Simply adjusting your daily routine to the aforementioned suggestions will help to save not just the environment, but both our health and future generations. Water, air, and soil pollution causes 40% of deaths worldwide. It’s time that we make a change for the better before it’s too late for the planet and ourselves.
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