How you can reduce your family’s carbon footprint

Towards the end of 2021, COP26 was grabbing headlines and capturing our imagination. The annual climate change conference was held in Cornwall in early November, and participating countries made various commitments to take action to address climate change. 

Progress will be reviewed at COP27, which will take place in November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. But opinion is divided on whether COP26 did enough to make the global goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5℃ a reality. 

But as well as major global initiatives to address climate change, there are small steps that we can all take to help make a difference. If everyone pulled together to make at least some of these changes, there could be a very positive result.

In this article we take a look at six of those small steps. And as well as helping to protect the planet, they can also enable you and your family to save money.

Six Steps to reduce your carbon footprint

1. Learn more about your carbon footprint

The best way to start trying to reduce your carbon footprint is to learn more about what it actually means. Your carbon footprint is simply the impact of your daily activities on the environment, measured by how much carbon dioxide (CO2) they create and release into the atmosphere.

A great starting point to understand more is to try a fun free quiz from the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) to calculate your current carbon footprint.

2. Change your diet

There are four simple ways in which you can change your diet and reduce your carbon footprint. The good news is that they will also help you to save money:

  • Reduce the amount of meat that you eat. Even cutting out meat from two meals per week can help to decrease the greenhouse gases produced by livestock farming.
  • Buy organic products when you can, as this generally reduces carbon emissions.
  • Buy food from local sources as this reduces transport costs and pollution, as well as helping to support local businesses.
  • Do all that you can to eliminate food waste, for example by always using leftovers, batch cooking, and freezing food. 

3. Don’t always buy new

When you need to buy things, for example clothing or household goods, don’t automatically buy new. Instead, consider buying second-hand where possible. 

There are so many places where you can buy good-quality used goods – some of which are hardly used at all. This is much better for the planet than buying from new all the time. For example, did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions! 

So if you are able to find what you want from online auction and marketplace sites, as well of course as your local charity shops, you could reuse something rather than wasting it, and also save money because you are not paying for new goods.

4. Always remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – the “Three R’s” – are all really helpful in cutting down on the amount of waste we generate. So in turn they impact on how much natural resources, landfill and energy we consume. 

  • Reduce

If you look round the average home in the UK, there is much more stuff than we actually need. It just seems that in every area of our lives we tend to buy far too much. So a really good tip is to start shopping more mindfully. 

So when food shopping, plan what you actually need rather than just filling your trolley. And if you are tempted to make another purchase, for example clothes, why not wait 24 hours to decide whether or not you really need it?

  • Reuse

In the UK we generate over 22 million tons of household waste per year. So before you throw anything away, see if it could be reused for anything else, either by yourself or others.

  • Recycle

If something is not able to be reused, always try to recycle it wherever possible. Most local councils offer some recycling collections. You can check the situation in your area on the Gov UK website. There may also be recycling collection points in public areas such as town centre or supermarket car parks.

5. Save energy in the home

There are so many changes that we can all make to save energy in the home. 

As a quick guide, five easy things to do are:

  • Turn your thermostat down by 1 degree;
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs;
  • Switch off lights when you are not in the room;
  • Don’t leave appliances in standby mode;
  • Reducing the length of time you spend in the shower. 

Check out our article How to save money on energy bills this winter for more information.

6. Think about how you travel 

If you are a car owner, you are probably in the habit of jumping in and taking it anywhere without really thinking about it. Sometimes that is necessary, but we could save energy and fuel by putting a little more thought into how we use our cars.

Five easy ways to do this are:

  • Walking or cycling for local journeys instead of driving;
  • Using public transport where possible;
  • Planning trips to combine several errands into one journey;
  • Car sharing with with colleagues or neighbours;
  • Planning to change to an electric car in future.

Our article Five ways to save money on fuel this winter has more helpful information on these tips.

We hope that the above information helps you and your family to start finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint, and also to save money in the process.

For more lifestyle and financial tips check back here with us soon at Loans 2 Go.