The words carbon footprint are just one of the sustainability buzzwords that we cross paths with multiple times a day, be that on social media, through online content or perhaps even at your place of work...

And everybody has one. But what does it mean, and how can you apply it to your everyday life?

Carbon footprint defined:

Simply defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, carbon footprint is “a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced by the activities of a person or company.”

Said activities can be natural – think decomposition, ocean release and respiration – but human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, is the primary offender.

It’s important, but why?

The consequence of our population’s combined carbon footprint is global warming, and that’s not good news for any inhabitants of planet Earth.

So, if we want to mitigate the impact of global climate change, improve public health, boost the economy, and protect plant and animal diversity, putting our own carbon footprint under the microscope is vital.

Tips to reduce your carbon footprint

Not all is lost, and we can all help to protect the environment by making small changes in our day-to-day lives to reduce our carbon footprint.

Reduce the amount of energy you use

Perhaps the quickest win, there are lots of small changes you can make to this effect. To name a few, you could simply turn off unnecessary lights, take shorter showers, wash your clothes on a lower temperature and turn taps off when they’re not being used.

Eat fewer animal products

Did you know that meat and dairy products require a lot of land, water, and energy to produce? And production creates a lot of greenhouse gasses along the way, so there’s lots of benefits to adopting a plant-based diet.

Shop locally

It’s an obvious one, but food shipped from overseas uses a lot more resources than local produce: why not visit your local farmers market instead?

Travel smart

We all know that petrol and diesel cars are bad news, but we still need to get around. So, what’s the solution? Despite using similar fuelling methods, public transport is a more sustainable option, simply because more people can use it at one time, making each journey more meaningful.

Reduce your waste

How many different products do you use in any single day? It’d be difficult to count, but it’s safe to assume that the answer is ‘a lot’ and each individual product will have its own carbon footprint. So, by reducing the amount of waste you generate, you could make a big difference.

Where do you start?

The average carbon footprint (per person, per year) in the UK is 10 tonnes1, and lowering yours won’t happen overnight – it’s OK to start small but think big. First things first, find out what your individual carbon footprint is, and go from there.

By making small changes to our actions, we can start making a big difference.

1Carbon Independent