The term ‘carbon footprint’ is widely used today, having been popularized by the oil giant BP more than two decades ago through a marketing campaign.
Your carbon footprint is basically the collective mass of the carbon emissions you generate as a result of your everyday activities — including commuting to work, watching TV, and heating your home. However, you might not have realized how much you can do to reduce your carbon output.
Here are some of the eco-friendly measures you have probably never previously been told about…
Eat less cheese
While the adverse ecological impact of eating meat is well-documented, you might not have realised that the production of dairy products, too, heavily emits carbon.
According to statistics shared by British Vogue, cheese is responsible for 8.8kg to 13.5kg of CO2 per kilogram — more than chicken, the carbon footprint of which is 6.9kg per kilogram of meat.
You can therefore significantly slash your carbon emissions by avoiding cheese altogether — or at least opting for lower-fat, lower-density cheeses like mozzarella or ricotta.
As a general rule, the fewer meat and dairy products you eat, the further you can lower your diet’s environmental impact — as indicated in a series of statistics reported by WIRED UK.
These include that food production accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, with diary and meat responsible for roughly 14.5%.
However, though estimates differ, it is generally thought that you could shrink your carbon footprint by approximately a fifth if you switch to a vegan diet.
Replace a gas or wood-burning fireplace with an electric one
The UK consumer watchdog organization Which? reports: “Electric fires are 100% efficient, meaning all the heat they produce is pushed out into the room, as no heat is lost in a chimney or flue.”
Furthermore, once you have chosen an electric fireplace from the many models available to buy online, you could power it with electricity from renewable sources.
Use less water
We all obviously need water, but treating it to make it safe for us to use incurs high CO2 emissions. The Energy Saving Trust has suggested that using hot water adds 875kg to a household’s carbon footprint on an annual basis.
It would therefore be in the planet’s interest for you to reduce the length of your showers and, when preparing to wash items in a washing machine or dishwasher, make sure you fill this machine to its full capacity.
Send fewer emails
It’s surprising how much carbon you can emit simply by sending an email. According to figures shared by Professor Mike Berners-Lee, a regular email releases 4g of CO2, while adding a large attachment to that email could see its carbon burden rise to as much as 50g.
This is all due to the electricity required for sending, receiving, and storing emails. However, according to one study by energy provider OVO, all adults in the UK could collectively save almost 16,500 tonnes of carbon in a year as a result of each sending one less ‘thank you’ email.