As the impact of climate change becomes increasingly apparent, many of us are looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the environment. Fortunately, there are many simple changes that we can all make to help us live more sustainably.
Making changes to our daily routine and usual practices can be difficult. Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle can mean making investments or going a bit further out of our way at times. The effort, however, will always be far outweighed by the benefits these actions can have on the future of our planet.
In our guide below we’ll look at easy ways anyone can try to live a more eco-friendly life, from changing our diets to the way we get around. We’ll look at 5 simple ideas that can make a big difference and help us all to make a positive impact.
1. Switch to a low-carbon heating system
The heating and cooling of homes in the US produce 38% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions [source]. It’s estimated that a further 15% is created to produce our hot water.
Whilst it might seem shocking to know that over half the total emissions we create are caused by our heating, there is something we can do to reverse this.
By switching from a regular gas or oil furnace to a heat pump, you could significantly reduce your carbon emissions to near zero. The high-efficiency rating of modern heat pumps means that if all single-family homes were to use one, there would be a reduction of around 160 million metric tons of CO2 by 2032.
As heat pumps don’t rely on fossil fuels to operate, instead using natural energy sources such as air, water or underground heat, they don’t produce any CO2 in the process of heating, or cooling, your home.
Although they do need to be powered by electricity, they can easily be paired with solar panels, or a wind turbine system, so run completely emissions-free. Not only can this mitigate the effects of climate change, it can also save you money on energy bills in the process.
To read more about heat pumps and how they can help us live more sustainably, visit: https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/heat-pump.
2. Adopt a plant-based diet
Animal agriculture contributes a significant level of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, with various studies suggesting that it could be up to 18% globally.
Switching to a plant-based diet can, according to the University of Oxford, reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 73% – that’s huge! [Source]
Not only is a plant-based diet more sustainable, but it can also be more cost-effective. As plant-based protein sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu tend to be less expensive than meat.
Now is an even better time than ever to consider switching, as there are more plant-based alternative options than ever before; particularly of products such as meat, cheese and milk.
3. Reduce waste
Solid waste landfills in America are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases. In 2020 these greenhouse gas emissions were so high, they were the equivalent of emissions from over 20 million vehicles.[Source]
It’s safe to say, this is one area of our daily lives that could use improvement. Food waste in particular, creates multiple kinds of emissions and most of it is generated by the process of production, transportation and handling of the food. Once it reaches the landfill, it contributes to nearly 400kg of CO2 per tonne of waste. [Source]
So what can we do about it? Simple changes, like recycling, composting and swapping out single-use plastics are great ways to reduce waste. Furthermore, being conscious of how you shop, what you use and where your product comes from can help. For example, buying products made from recycled, or sustainably sourced, materials reduces the emissions from production.
We can also adopt the reuse philosophy, opting for pre-loved clothing, reusable packaging or repairing rather than replacing items. Not only can these small steps reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills, but over time you may even see benefits to your bank balance.
4. Switch to renewable energy sources
One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to reconsider the way you power your home. Solar panels, for example, are one of the best low-carbon alternatives that can power your entire home using just the sun (completely free of charge!)
Of course, solar panels might not be for everyone, they do have a large upfront cost typically between 12,000 – 30,0000 depending on various factors. [Source]
If you aren’t able to adopt a renewable energy source directly into your home, you can instead take more time to choose an energy supplier that may be using renewable sources already. Many large suppliers are making efforts to switch their supply from fossil fuels to renewables, but you may have to take some extra time to do the research and find a company that aligns with your views.
5. Use sustainable transportation
One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to reconsider the way you travel. By choosing public transport, biking or walking instead of driving you will reduce your emissions dramatically in a very short amount of time.
For a longer-term solution, consider an electric vehicle which could be charged via a renewable source, or sharing transport.
Living sustainably is something that anyone can do, but it does take some commitment. By making small changes in our daily habits, we can reduce our carbon footprint, conserve resources, and make a positive impact on the environment.
Whether it’s reducing energy use, practicing sustainable eating, reducing waste or using sustainable transportation, every action we take matters. By collectively adopting sustainable practices, we can work towards a more resilient, equitable, and liveable future for ourselves and future generations.