How to reduce your carbon footprint

Find out how you as an individual or a business can take steps to reduce your carbon footprint.

Individuals

Travel

  • Car share to work, or for the children's school run.
  • Use the bus or train rather than your car.
  • Instead of taking a domestic flight, go by coach or train. Take fewer flights.
  • Work from home one day a week.
  • When it's time to replace your car, choose a model with low CO2 emissions, and the best fuel economy. Choosing a Diesel engine means you can even make your own Biodiesel fuel, or convert a petrol vehicle to LPG fuel - it's cheaper too!
  • Get your employers to offer the Cycle Scheme and get a tax free bike to use to get to work. (http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk)

Food and Shopping

  • Buy unpackaged fruit and vegetables, and avoid throwing out up to 14 kg of food packaging every week.
  • Only buy local, seasonal vegetables. Food miles are growing exponentially in the UK as local and seasonal vegetables are replaced with foreign, all-year-round staples, and each carries a substantial carbon burden.
  • Do your weekly shopping in a single trip.
  • Divert your food waste from landfill, where it emits methane (a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming). A quarter of the contents of an average domestic waste bin is made up of organic waste. Instead, put it in a wormery (wigglywigglers.co.uk), a food-composting bin (greengardener.co.uk) or install a green cone (greencone.com).

At home

  • Change to a Green Energy supplier and get your electricity from renewable sources (such as Ecotricity or Good Energy) - this will reduce your carbon footprint contribution from electricity to zero.
  • Check the central heating timer setting - do you really need the heating on when you are at work?
  • Turn off all electrical equipment when not in use. Eight per cent of electricity used by appliances is used when they are left on standby, putting an extra 1m tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
  • Turn off lights even when leaving the room for a short time.
  • Turn the central heating and water heaters down 1 or 2 degrees C. Make sure the water heater is no hotter than 60 0C.
  • Install a solar thermal heater (see Energy Saving Trust). You will get around 70% of your hot water free.
  • If you're buying a computer, choose a less power-hungry laptop and turn it off when not in use. The screen saver only does what it says - it saves the screen. It still uses almost the same amount of energy as powering the whole machine.
  • Fill your dishwasher and washing machine with a full load - this will save you water, electricity and washing powder.
  • Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need.
  • Unplug your mobile phone as soon as it has finished charging.
  • Defrost your fridge/freezer regularly.
  • Hang the washing out to dry rather than tumble drying it- it's better for your clothes too.
  • Install cavity wall insulation and loft insulation. A well-insulated house saves substantial energy.
  • Get a lagging jacket for your water heater. It needs to be at least 75mm thick.
  • Make an annual donation of as much as you can to Trees for Life for our work to restore the Caledonian Forest. We rely on regular support, and welcome donations from people in recognition of their impact on the environment.

Businesses

Travel

  • Offer incentives for staff to travel by public transport. Offer the Cycle Scheme for your employees. (http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk)
  • Enable employees to work some days from home where possible.
  • Convert business vehicles to LPG or Bio-diesel.
  • Organise a car share scheme for employees.
  • Provide showers for cyclists.
  • Organise work so employees take as few flights as possible.

Energy usage

  • Teleconference and use networking software rather than travel long distances for meetings.
  • Switch to a green electricity supplier such as Ecotricity.
  • Turn off all possible electrical equipment overnight, or when not in use. Typically eight per cent of electricity used by appliances is used when they are left on standby, putting an extra 1m tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
  • Switch to energy efficient lighting in office buildings.
  • Improve the energy efficiency of your premises by installing extra insulation in the roof and fitting double-glazed windows.
  • Use plants and open windows to give fresh air, not air-conditioning.

Big steps

  • Ensure that new premises are energy-efficient.
  • Locate new premises in areas near to employees' homes and well-served by public transport.
  • Implement an Environmental Management System; save money, reduce liabilities, and reduce your impact.
  • Make an annual donation of as much as you can to Trees for Life for our work to restore the Caledonian Forest. We rely on regular support, and welcome donations from businesses in recognition of their impact on the environment.

Waste and resources

  • Encourage a policy of not printing out emails unnecessarily.
  • Change to recycled paper for all your office needs and promotional materials.
  • Make sure as much office waste as possible is recycled.

 

If you would like to further reduce your impact on the environment, you can plant trees with Trees for Life.

 

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