9 easy tips to reduce your carbon footprint

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Go Green Day is back and this year it takes place on Friday 21st June. Go Green Day is our annual summer campaign when we encourage individuals, organisations and schools to have fun, raise money for tropical forests and make changes to help make Wales and the world a greener place. This year, in response to the climate emergency declared by Welsh Government, we are inviting everyone in Wales to pledge to reduce their carbon footprint.

Keep reading to find out some of the ways you can kick start a new low-carbon lifestyle. But first, you’ll need to find out what your carbon footprint is.

How do I measure my carbon footprint?

The UK average is 13 tonnes CO2 per person a year. How does yours fare against the UK average?
It’s really easy to measure your carbon footprint. We recommend using WWF’s footprint calculator. It’s an easy questionnaire to help you understand what your carbon footprint is, how it compares to the UK and world averages. It also breaks down how your travel habits, buying habits, home energy use and diet are contributing to your footprint, helping you to understand where it’s most important to target your efforts to reduce it.

How can I reduce my footprint?

By playing around with the calculator, you will start to get ideas about the sorts of steps you can take to reduce your footprint, including the Big 3: transport, energy and food.

TIP 1: Avoid car travel

Where car travel isn’t essential, walk, cycle or use public transport. It’s better for the planet, improves your own physical and mental health. Plus, walking and cycling are free!

Did you know 1 gallon of petrol produces on average 14.3kg of CO2.

TIP 2: Eat less meat

Especially red meat. Beef and soy (which is used as animal fodder) are two of the top drivers of deforestation globally. The beef industry alone, clears an area of forest bigger than the size of Wales in Latin America each year for cattle farming: 2.7million hectares.

Did you know Beef requires 11 times more water and produces 5 times the carbon emissions of pork and chicken production. It also requires 28 times more land than pork or chicken, which is one of the key drivers of deforestation globally.

TIP 3: Eat locally produced food

Think about your food in terms of “food miles” – how far has it had to travel to reach your plate? Let’s take avocados from Peru – a one-way flight from Peru produces 1.38 tonnes of CO2. A 5-mile journey from farm to local green grocers? Less than 0.01 ton. Also, it boosts your local economy. Sorry, we know avos are delicious!

Did you know eating food that’s locally grown, as well as eating seasonally can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 10%.

TIP 4: Switch to a green energy supplier

Green energy suppliers provide energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro power. The switch from energy provided by fossil fuels to renewable energy can directly reduce atmospheric carbon emissions. In fact, it’s one of the quickest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Most are competitively priced and are set up to support businesses as well. It’s really easy to go online and compare green energy tariffs and make the switch!

Did you know if you turn down your room thermostat by just one degree, you could save 360kg CO2 a year, and about £90!

TIP 5: Have a staycation this summer

Air travel accounts for a huge proportion of global emissions and a large part of some of our personal carbon footprints. For example, a return flight from London to New York can make up nearly a quarter of the average British person’s annual emissions so think twice before booking that flight. Besides, there are some absolute gems awaiting exploration in the British Isles and even more here at home in Wales!

Did you know air travel is responsible for 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, which is equal to all human activities in Africa!

TIP 6: Reduce – reuse – recycle

Think quality over quantity. Research ethical clothing and cosmetic brands. Whilst the price may be higher, this is often reflected in both the quality (meaning it will last longer), and also that the efforts that brand has taken to be environmentally conscious are factored into the price.

Did you know clothing has the largest carbon footprint after housing, transport and food? Over 50% of high street items reach landfill within the same year.

TIP 7: No food waste

Buy only what you need. This might take a bit of planning, looking at what you’re up to that week and how many meals you will prepare and eat at home, including taking lunch to work. This may take time but saves money, food waste and often results in a healthier, more varied diet. Between one-third and a half of the viable crops and food produced from them around the world are wasted. In the developing world this is usually down to lack of infrastructure such as refrigerated transport, and in the developed world is attributed to wasteful habits.

Did you know
the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says food wastage across the world – totalling 1.3 billion tonnes of food annually – is the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions after China and the USA?

TIP 8: Support Size of Wales

Through supporting Size of Wales, you can:
– Plant trees. We work with local communities and small holder farmers in Mbale, Uganda to reforest the heavily deforested land. These additional trees have many benefits for the local community. They also make a great thoughtful (and waste-free!) gift. Get in touch if you’d like to plant trees in Mbale.
Support impoverished forest-dwelling and indigenous communitiesalready living through the difficult reality of climate change. It’s communities in the global south (that have the smallest carbon footprint – less than 1 ton per year) who are bearing the brunt of climate change with drought, floods and decreased food security. Our projects support communities to adapt to climate change and seek alternative and sustainable sources of income.
Help keep the world’s tropical forests standing. Trees in the tropics are especially effective at absorbing carbon, alleviating the impacts of excess carbon emissions in a vital way. In fact, natural climate solutions such as forests, peatlands and conservation agriculture have the potential to absorb as much as 37% of the emission reductions by 2030.
Balance the carbon impact of your unavoidable emissions. Protecting one hectare of tropical forest can protect 4.1 tonnes of carbon per year. Once you have cut as many emissions as you possibly can, mitigate the remaining emissions with us. Donate now.

Your donations build solidarity regarding climate change solutions, from Wales all the way to forest-dwelling and Indigenous communities in Peru, DRC, Borneo and beyond. You can become a regular giver or make one-off donations to our campaigns such as Go Green Day where our match funders double your donations!

TIP 9: Become a Go Green Day Champion.

Encourage your employer to be more environmentally responsible. Lots of forward thinking organisations are looking at ways to reduce their environmental impact. Holding a Go Green Day fundraising event is a great way to engage colleagues and raise money to support tropical forests. All funds raised for Go Green Day will be doubled by generous match funders. You can then work together with your colleagues to look at what parts of your workplace produces the most waste or the most energy and look for sustainable alternatives and solutions. This could mean using reusable cups, video conferencing instead of traveling to some meetings, switching to using Ecosia as your search engine, switching to a green energy supplier, being more vigilant about switching off machinery and lights during non-business hours and encouraging the team to adopt active travel to and from work.

We want as many people, schools and businesses as possible to take part, so please spread the word. We want June 21st to be a day when Wales becomes a greener place, for good! We’re pleased to see the climate change agenda finally getting the attention it needs, and we are all aware about the need to act, now. Starting conversations about the issues of climate change and deforestation is really important. Tell people about Go Green Day as a way to help tackle the most pressing issue of our age. Gather your friends, colleagues and neighbours and hold a fundraising event. It could be a communal green picnic, or organise a green walk through some local forests whilst learning about the trees you see, or hold a cake sale or a swap shop. The options are endless and we love hearing about new ideas!

Don’t forget to wear green on 21st June! You may be familiar with our ever-so-stylish stripy green socks?! To help you green it up, get in touch and we can arrange for you to collect your green socks from the office or we can send them via post (suggested donation £10).

We love to see what you get up to and how you Go Green so please share with us on social media by tagging @sizeofwales and using the #GoGreenDay.

You can sign up to Go Green Day here.

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