First things first, what is a carbon footprint and how do we measure our individual carbon footprints? 

Your individual carbon footprint is a measure of the total amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere as a result of your actions that affect the environment. It’s usually  measured in tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). So from the amount of fast fashion you purchase to the fumes released from your car to how many steaks you eat in a year these all add up to result in the size of your carbon footprints. Essentially most of the actions that affect your footprint are to do with consumption and capitalism (purchases). 

In terms of measuring our individual carbon footprints, it tends to encompass five major areas of our lifestyles. These being; 

  • Your home energy use and waste production. This includes factors like how much electricity, natural gas, and other fuels you use and where they’re sourced from, as well as whether you recycle or send your waste to landfill/incineration. 
  • Travel. Your footprint will vary depending on whether or not you have a car/motorbike, as well as how often you use it. Similarly, your use of public transport contributes. Any flights you take also need accounting for, as these contribute significantly. 
  • Your diet. The types of food you eat and where you source it from can play a central role in your overall carbon footprint. The more energy-intensive it is to produce and ship your food, the worse for the environment it generally is. 
  • Your shopping habits. Another factor is how often you purchase new products such as electronics, household goods and clothing. The lifespan of these items, as well as where and how they’re produced, can play a role in your carbon emissions. 

Here are some micro- focused, easy to implement tips on how to alter elements of your lifestyle to reduce your individual carbon footprint. 

Eat less animal products

It takes 6 months worth of one person’s bath and showers in terms of the amount of water used to produce just one steak. Animal products – red meat especially – require mass water, land and energy to produce. They also create a lot of methane, a greenhouse gas. What’s more, food shipped from overseas uses a lot more resources than local produce.

Eating a more plant-focused diet will make the world of a difference. No, you don’t have to go vegan overnight but try cutting out meat from Monday to Thursday. If you live somewhere that allows you to support a local farmer affordably then go for it! The smallest changes make the biggest difference here. 

Use less water

We’ve been told about this tip since primary school but it really makes a difference. It takes energy and resources to process and deliver water to our homes. What’s more, it’s also quite energy-intensive to heat it once it’s there. So, by using less, you can help the environment and lower your carbon footprint. Try turning off the taps when brushing your teeth, having short showers rather than baths, and only boiling the water you need. You get the gist. 

Cut out fast fashion – or at least reduce the hell out of it

Fast fashion production is the world’s second largest polluter just after the oil industry. This topic is a bit of a taboo one as it seems to be masked by dangerous glamour and many don’t want to give up the luxury of cheap, stylish items. To make matters worse, companies like PLT, Boohoo and Missguided literally abuse their UK based workers by paying them less than £5 a hour and asking them to work inhumane shifts. These workers are oftens immigrants and/or women of colour who don’t have the privilege to apply or work in jobs that would support them more. At the same time these company CEOs (remember the Molly Mae ‘we all have the same 24 hours’ controversy?) are earning millions on the back of disadvantaged employees. 

Cutting out fast fashion doesn’t have to be expensive – even though many sustainable brands are. Shopping second hand and vintage – which is so easy to do thanks to platforms like Vinted and Depop – will not only reduce your carbon footprint but also help you develop a new sense of style. You don’t have to go cold turkey but maybe just purchase shoes, socks and underwear from fast fashion stores and source the rest elsewhere. 

Cycle, walk and take public transport where you can

Again, a super easy one but we know how damaging car fumes are to the planet. Cycling and walking are also great for your health and wallet. So save the uber for a very necessary occasion. 

Eliminate single use plastic

Single-use plastics may be convenient, but they’re dreadful for the environment. Not only do they pollute our waterways and oceans, but they also require energy to produce and recycle. You can stop using things like disposable coffee cups and cutlery to reduce your company’s carbon footprint as well as the ever demonised (rightly so) plastic shopping bags. 

If you have an online following, share your journey to inspire others
Sometimes these changes in lifestyle can be fun and you can discover a new side to your personality through cooking, styling and commuting in a different way! If you have an online following, track your journey and engage with your followers. Many fashion influencers on Instagram and TikTok for example have monitored their journeys away from fast fashion, sharing any helpful tips and in doing so have inspired thousands to reduce their carbon footprint. Spreading awareness truly is the key to mass change. 

Eat locally and seasonally

This is a tip that can apply to just about every area of life. Locally-grown produce takes less energy to transport and supports the economy where you live. If you can get your school to switch to local and sustainable food for the kitchen, you can help save the planet and help local businesses. Eating seasonally can simply start with only purchasing foods made and grown in Europe in your local supermarket so as to not contribute to mass commuting of foods. 

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