Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

08 Oct 2020

Reducing our carbon footprints is mission critical to limit global warming. With this in mind, some recent research reveals the top 10 ways you can reduce yours. If you’re anything like us, you’re the kind of person who is pained when you see someone fill the kettle up to full just to make a single cup of tea or coffee. Why waste energy like that?! Nobody is perfect mind you, and we’re not fans of green shaming. What we do like is clear science and research-based advice to help us live more sustainably.

Handily, the Centre for Research Into Energy Demand Solutions has carried out some extensive research into the most effective ways we can reduce our carbon footprints. These are especially relevant for people in more developed countries, who are responsible for the majority of the world’s CO2 emissions.*

So how can we go from bigfoots to ballerinas?

Average reduction per person per year in tonnes of CO2 equivalent

top ten ways to reduce your carbon footprint
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#1 Go car-free

Sorry petrol-heads but using a car, especially an SUV, is one of the most CO2-emitting things we can do. Going ‘car-free’ (and we checked with the main research here) means switching to a combination of active transport e.g. walking or cycling and public transport. This will remove a hefty 2.04 tonnes from your personal account per year—the equivalent of the average Bolivian’s yearly emissions. Average reduction per person per year in tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

#2 Switch to an electric car

If you are going to drive then an electric vehicle is certainly greener from an emissions perspective, saving 1.95 tonnes CO2 per year, and it means those of us who live in cities can breathe a bit easier too. However, it’s worth noting that making electric cars still requires mining precious metals, which contributes to water scarcity. The environmental cost of lithium must be considered carefully.

Electric Car Charging

#3 One less long haul flight per year

As we covered in our recent editorial about transport CO2 emissions, flying makes up a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions, and not just CO2, so it’s unsurprising that flying less will significantly reduce your emissions. One long-haul flight adds 1.68 tonnes to your account, so the numbers add it pretty quickly for frequent fliers.

#4 Switch to renewable energy for your home

We spoke a few weeks ago about the rise of renewable energy and how over the last few decades renewable energy has exceeded everyone’s expectations with regards to growth. As such, in many countries, it’s now easy to switch to a green energy supplier for your home and save an average of 1.6 tonnes CO2 per person per year.

#5 Use public transport

Ah the good ol’ bus, tram, metro or tube. If you already live in a big city this may be the best option for you anyway, regardless of the occasional odd encounter. Another big plus is that you’ll save 0.98 tonnes of CO2 per year as well. It can be a cost-effective option compared to owning a car, saving you money on fuel, parking, and maintenance expenses. Also, public transport allows you to use your travel time more productively, whether it's reading, working, or simply relaxing without the stress of driving.

Public Transportation As a Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

#6 Home refurbishment/renovation

Next in the home category is making refurbishment and renovations, for example, improving insulation, using a more efficient boiler, or installing appliances, such as smart metres. Doing so can reduce your account by an average of 0.895 tonnes per year. Alongside the environmental benefits, these home improvements can lead to long-term savings on utility bills, allowing you to allocate your finances to other essential aspects of your life!

#7 Switch to a vegan diet

Food production accounts for a large proportion of our emissions globally, but as you’re probably aware it’s meat, especially lamb and beef, that are the main culprits. Cutting these out and switching to a vegan diet will remove 0.8 tonnes from your account. If this is a little too far for now, going vegetarian saves 0.5 tonnes.

Like Meat - Go Vegan and Reduce CO Emissions

Exploring vegan cuisine can be a delightful and eye-opening culinary adventure. With so many delicious vegan recipes available, you can enjoy making your favorite dishes in a more eco-friendly way. Invite your friends and family over for a memorable vegan feast, and, who knows - you might inspire them to do the same.

#8 Install a heat pump

Heat pumps are extremely efficient at moving heat from one place to another, and make great heating and cooling systems for buildings. They run on electricity too, so can be hooked up to solar panels, although generally upfront costs are high. Installing one will take 0.795 tonnes per year from your account and also save on bills.

So, if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, decrease your reliance on fossil fuels, and save on energy costs in the long run, installing a heat pump is a wise choice.

#9 Improved cooking equipment

This is actually more relevant in developing countries that use cookstoves heated with coal, wood or paraffin are less efficient and more polluting. Replacing these with more efficient (and healthier) alternatives like solar-powered stoves has the potential to save 0.65 tonnes per year. This change would not only reduce pollution, but also improve the health and well-being of communities. However, implementing such solutions requires awareness, support, and cooperation from governments and organizations.

#10 Switch to renewable-based heating

Similar to renewable-based electricity, switching the renewable-based heating, preferably solar, can significantly lower your carbon footprint. 0.64 tonnes per year to be exact. The transition to renewable-based heating demonstrates a commitment to sustainable practices, setting a positive example for others in the community to follow. This way, we can collectively work towards a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable future.

Solar Panels on a House - Reducing Carbon Footprint Concept

The bigger picture

So there you have it, the top ten most effective ways we can reduce our carbon footprints, according to some recent research. But, as alluded to, this only takes into account carbon emissions and not other environmental considerations like plastic pollution, water scarcity and habitat destruction.

Eating organic, recycling, buying less and buying longer-lasting products also feature on the list, and are beneficial for different reasons. Some are more realistic than others, too. We don’t all have thousands of pounds readily available to spend on home renovations or a heat pump, it's about doing what you can.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Cycling

Lastly, as well as our actions as individuals, it is equally, if not more important, for governments and organizations to do their bit as well. Other meaningful measures include donating to environmental organisations and exercising your political power to put pressure on politicians to make the right choices for people and the environment.

If you want to hear more about this from the lead author of the research, then continue to our interview with Diana Ivanova where she delves deeper into the environmental impacts of our consumption and the changes we need to make to save the planet.

* Wanna know where in the world do people emit the most CO2? The average Australian emits 16.88 tonnes of CO2 per year, whereas the average Ghanaian emits only 0.61 tonnes. The global average is 4.8 tonnes and we need to reduce that to zero.


We hope you found this fun and informative. If you have any questions or ideas about this (or anything really) feel free to get in touch with Emilia Cullborg, Editor and Head of Communication & Community Outreach.

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