Switching off lights when you leave a room recycling more, turning down the thermostat in the winter – these are all commendable green habits that can make a positive difference to the environment in the long term. However it’s also important to consider the bigger picture. There are significant changes you can make to your lifestyle that could have a massive impact on reducing your carbon footprint. Like with most things though, a bigger impact calls for more effort – but it’ll be worth it in the long run. The long term commitments we make to combating climate changes might not necessarily benefit ourselves directly, but will benefit generations to come.
To get you started, we’ve come up with some ideas that you could try and implement. The hard work, however, starts from here…
1. Generate Your Own Energy Look into the possibility of generating your own energy. <#66#>Install solar panels<#> or micro wind turbine on your property, once it’s working, you can generate a significant amount of clean, green electricity yourself. Not only will your own electricity source give your home a higher grade for its Energy Performance Certificate, but you’ll have a great talking point that could also make you money if you come to sell your property later down the line.
2. Calculate Your Carbon Footprint While it’s easy to calculate how much CO2 you’re emitting through a specific action – for example when flying or driving- it’s more tricky to understand how even small elements of your lifestyle can add up to create a larger carbon footprint than you might realise. Break down your day-to-day actions in terms of their impact on the environment, even including small actions such as your shopping, a trip to the pub or cooking a meal. Be ruthless, and cut out those CO2 heavy activities that aren’t absolutely essential, or create a greener way of doing them.
3. Go Zero Carbon You can go further than neutralising the amount of CO2 emitted in the atmosphere – you can actually go zero carbon, meaning that you positively reduce CO2 emissions through your actions. There are several zero carbon developments in the UK that have been built specifically with this in mind. The BedZED development in Sutton, for example, is the biggest eco-development in the UK, and is using a range of different energy saving and generation measures to offer people a zero carbon way of living.
4. Move To An Eco-Town Gordon Brown has also unveiled plans for five new eco-towns to be built in the UK – the first planned for Cambridgeshire. According to Housing Minister Yvette Cooper: “Our new homes must be part of well-designed and mixed communities with excellent local facilities and that means more family homes, as well as parks and green spaces. With the urgent challenge of climate change, they must be greener homes, built to the highest environmental standards.”
5. Lobby The Government While our own individual actions are important, a larger political agenda for the environment and climate change is essential to the long term future of the planet, and the state of the environment for future generations to come.
Environmental issues have hit the political agenda in recent years, but many lobby groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth think much more can be done at a governmental level to combat climate change. If you feel strongly about a particular issue that hasn’t been adequately covered by legislation or political action, write to your MP asking them to raise the issue, or support a group that is lobbying for those issues to be addressed.
6. Ditch Your Car Cars are responsible for a significant proportion of overall CO2 emissions, so if you’re serious about doing something for the environment, see if you can survive without a car. Write down all the journeys you make in your car each week, then assess how essential the journey is, or if there are greener, alternative ways of getting from A to B. You’ll probably be surprised at how little you actually need a vehicle of your own – and you’ll certainly notice the extra money in your pocket.
If there is an occasion where a car is vital to complete a journey, look into the possibility of joining a car sharing scheme. Many are available to use on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning you only pay for the miles you complete in the car.