How do I reduce my carbon footprint easily and effectively?


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John Swindells Profile
John Swindells , Frugalist, answered

There is no single 'silver bullet' when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint.  To do it effectively requires a reset in your lifestyle, so that you consider the environmental impact of (nearly) everything you do or plan to do.

Of course, it's not easy to 'think green' in your entire way of life, and you don't want to end up living in a cave.  So here's a list of some carbon-reducing measures that can encourage you on the right track:

  • Travel less, for example by deciding to 'do less', making more out of a single long trip, or using teleconferencing facilities where appropriate.
  • Use more carbon-efficient forms of transport, such as cycling instead of driving, taking the train instead of flying, and so on.  The journey may take longer, but there can be hidden benefits.
  • Insulate your home.  The current building standards for home insulation are quite high, and you should check your walls, loft, windows and doors to see if the insulation and draught-proofing can be improved.
  • Install a renewable energy source.  Roof-mounted solar PV panels are the most logical for the typical home-owner, but ground-source heat pumps, solar thermal panels and even wind turbines are all worth considering.
  • Get your old boiler checked and replaced.  All boilers should be serviced at least once a year anyway, and you should be told how efficiently it is running.  Modern boilers are capable of running at over 95% efficiency, so you could save a lot of money if your existing boiler is under-performing.
  • Try to keep your house a bit cooler than you are used to.  We keep our living areas around 18 degrees centigrade, using a hallway thermostat setting of 14 degrees, and it really doesn't feel cold at all.
  • Use less plastic packaging.  Don't just think about re-using carrier bags; you could decide not to buy that pack of doughnuts, batteries or salad because it's contained in a thick plastic packet. 

These are just a few of the many ideas for reducing your carbon footprint, without putting yourself out too much.  If everyone made a conscious effort to do a couple of these, that could make a real difference to our global carbon footprint and precious resource consumption.

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