So, we’ve just had COP26 where world leaders have gathered in Glasgow to talk about climate change and work towards a solution to reduce carbon emissions and fix the current climate crisis.
Having curated many ‘Green Show’ events over the years, the one question I get asked a lot is how can I make personal choices to be responsible for the planet?
There are a lot of obvious ones that most people know about such as printing less paper, reducing food miles & limiting plastic use. But what else can one do to help the climate situation? I share 5 ways that we can ‘make a difference’ on improving our personal carbon footprint.
Switch to an eco-energy provider
Energy use is one of the biggest ways we can improve our carbon footprint. Be it switching off lights, appliances, electricals off when not in use at home. But switching to a green supplier can make a bigger impact. I have noticed significantly more venues are asking guests to switch off lights when not in use, little signs have shown up and it’s wonderful to see the joint effort that people are making. From a supplier point of view, there are companies like Bulb, Octopus Energy, Good energy and I even looked into Ripple energy last year where one can buy shares in a wind farm! These days the switching process is pretty seamless and totally worth doing!
2. Have one or two meat-free days
Now whilst I’m not suggesting that we all go vegan here, there is something to be said about eating excessive meat that is not helping greenhouse gas problem. There are lots of factors about rearing livestock that can be harmful to the planet. Be it excessive land use to the gasses that livestock releases. Not to mention the water that is also used. If you were to compare that greenhouse emission to the humble bean, for instance, it is a huge contrast. So only switching 1-2 days a week to a vegetable-based diet can make such a difference. Healthwise this is also a bonus as vegetables, on the whole, are much easier to digest and we all know about our 5-7 fruit and veg a day!
3. Plant things.
We have heard that planting trees can offset the carbon, but has anyone thought about when old trees are cut and what happens to the decaying tree? Yes, carbon is released back into the atmosphere and again adds to the carbon problem. So ideally, it’s best not to cut those age-old trees in the first place. But what can we do at home? Grow things. Did you know that growing green plants, by the way of photosynthesis, plants use up carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates so that the plants can grow? Look at companies who plants trees as a carbon offsetting tool too. Whilst growing trees can help the greenhouse situation, they can also cool the climate and also sustain a wide host of wildlife and ecosystems that benefit our planet.
4. Sort and trim down your email box
How can this affect the climate? I hear you ask? Well, every email, be it spam or a genuine piece of mail is stored on a server, in gigantic server farms where a lot of resources are required to keep those farms going. Whether it’s air conditioning used to keep the servers cool or water or lights and electricity, this adds to the worldwide problem.
So, spending some time deleting and organizing our mail can actually save the planet. I once watched a program where servers were stored at the bottom of the sea where data was being stored and kept cool. What could that be doing to raise temperatures in the sea? Mike Berners Lee who is a carbon footprint expert (his brother Tim created the world wide web) said that every piece of spam whether opened or not releases 0.3g of carbon to the atmosphere. An email with a lot of text and an attachment can account for 50g of carbon-released atmosphere. One of my favourite ways to help people reduce their email boxes filling up is ‘think twice before using ‘reply to all’ buttons. Not only can this be unproductive especially if no action is required, but it can save a lot of stress. That’s why for group working, the project management apps like Trello, Asana or Notion are great tools to keep everyone in the loop without sending loads of group emails.
5. Look at the way you do transport
I’m not about to suggest everyone becomes a cyclist here! One of the positives that happened in the pandemic was the lower use of cars and planes which meant less fuel was burned. It made a huge difference to wildlife, it got people out walking, the air was cleaner, and on the whole, it seemed the world had a break from pollution and whilst this is not strictly practical to do away with cars and transport, it did make me think about different ways of doing journeys. What about bulk buying with less trips to the shops? Or carpooling, walking or simply using suppliers that have electric vehicles. From a health point of view, walking has lots of great benefits and even if we change a small part of our commute with a short walk, it can be a big win all around.
Hope you feel inspired to look deeper into ways that you can help the planet and make it fun way to reduce your carbon footprint too!