Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Simple and sustainable hints and tips to reduce your carbon footprint

Most of the greenhouse gas emissions we generate come from our day-to-day activities and we are not always aware of the consequences on the environment. The average UK person’s greenhouse gas footprint was an estimated 12.7 tonnes in 2018 (Mike Berners-Lee) 

iOffset is based on three core principles of:

  • 1) Reduce
  • 2) Offset
  • 3) Share

Whilst points 1 and 2 are crucial elements of direct climate action, the ability to share your unique iOffset webpage via social media is exactly how individual action can make a meaningful difference. Your iOffset contribution can be multiplied through community engagement.

Together, we can kick-start the culture of carbon reduction and offsetting in the UK.

Average UK Person's Greenhouse Gas Footprint 13 tonnes CO2e per year

Figure 1: Reproduced with permission of Mike Berners-Lee and Small World Consulting

FOOD:

Being aware of what you’re consuming is key to making environmentally aware choices in your daily life. The food we eat (and waste!) equates to 3.2 tonnes CO2e per person per year in the UK. Your food footprint is entirely manageable through the choices you make.

For example, if you stopped eating meat all together you could make a 35% reduction in these greenhouse gas emissions. Plant-based alternatives, often made with soya protein, are a great low-carbon substitute. But if vegetarianism isn’t for you, reducing the amount and type of meat you eat can also make a substantial difference – this is increasingly known as flexitarianism.

The impact on your carbon footprint could be striking: from field to checkout: 

  • Beef:     25 kg CO2e per kilo
  • Lamb:   15.5 kg CO2e per kilo
  • Pork:     10 kg CO2e per kilo
  • Poultry: 4.05 kg CO2e per kilo
  • Fish:      2.8 kg CO2e per kilo

As illustrated beef is generally the most carbon intensive meat choice with an estimated 25 kg CO2e per kilo, compared to fresh fish with only an estimated 2.8 kg CO2e per kilo. With almost 10 times less carbon imagine the difference you can make bu simply selecting fish on the menu! 

However, greenhouse gases are not the only side of the story, and there are other environmental and ethical impacts to consider; namely reading food labels to check that your meat is sustainably sourced and not transported from the other side of the world (known as food miles). 

By eliminating your food waste, you could make a further 12% reduction, and save yourself money. Swapping fruit and veg grown in hot-houses or air-freighted to the UK for local, seasonal varieties could offer a 5% reduction in emissions. From a "food miles" perspective shipped or frozen produce is also a good low carbon alternative versus air-freight, as the emissions per individual piece is far reduced.

As per the meat example above the same principle applies when buying fruit in the supermarket and again the difference is quite staggering with an orange (90 g CO2e) having up to 9 times more carbon when compared to a locally sourced apple (10g CO2e). 
   

Buy your food with the climate in mind

    iOffset Target:

  • Stop buying air-freighted foods = Saving of 0.16 tonnes CO2e per year

  • Minimise food waste = Saving of 0.38 tonnes CO2e per year

  • Stop eating meat all together = Saving of 1.12 tonnes CO2e per year 

HOME & ACCOMMODATION:

Home and accommodation make’s up one quarter of the average person’s carbon footprint in the UK. Conserving energy in the home is one of the most important things you can do in order to reduce your carbon footprint (and of course, energy bills). Energy-saving actions such as turning unused lights and electrical's off, installing smart heating meters and improving insulation could result in the average UK household reducing its emissions by 0.6 tonnes CO2e and £184 per year.

Many small changes to your household routines such as washing clothes on a lower temperature and avoiding using the tumble dryer in favour of line drying your washing could save energy, carbon and indeed money.

Changing your energy supplier to a renewable one is a practical action for anyone committed to reducing their carbon footprint. If you switch to renewable energy it is most likely to be coming from wind or biomass generation. Other sources include solar, hydroelectric and tidal Energy, to name but a few. All 100% renewable electricity is seen as having a net zero carbon footprint.

Switch to renewable energy suppliers today – Act Now

    iOffset Target:

  • Turn Heating Down: By 1 degree & save 360kg CO2e a year (£90!) 

  • Shower – don’t bath: A daily bath adds up to between 180 and 950 kg CO2e per year (that’s between 2 and 10 % of a target 10 tonne lifestyle).

  • Watch Less TV: One hour per day on a 32-inch LCD comes to 32 kg CO2e per year (the equivalent to a 45 mile drive in an average petrol car).

TRAVEL:

Driving: The greenhouse gases released during the building, maintaining and driving of cars contributes to 14% of the average UK resident’s emissions (11% fuel – 3% embodied from manufacture). Obviously, your annual mileage and size of car makes a big difference to your carbon footprint:

The exhaust fumes are a key contributor to air pollution with the cleaner choice being an electric car. A trip from Manchester to London for the average plug-in electric hybrid car is 0.02 tonnes CO2e but this doesn’t include the embodied emissions that go into building the car. For the same journey an ordinary hybrid is 0.08 tonnes CO2e and 0.11 tonnes CO2e for a petrol car, both these figures include embodied emissions. The average diesel car greenhouse gas emissions are slightly lower at 0.10 tonnes CO2e, bear in mind they may be worse for soot and nitrogen oxide, but they do have lower CO2e per mile and better fuel economy.

10% of all UK new car and van sales were electric vehicles in 2019. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended that 60% of all new cars and vans sold should be electric by 2030, and the government recently announced that a ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars in the UK from 2035.

Flying: Choosing whether to fly or not is where massive carbon footprint savings can be made.

“There’s really no getting around the fact that the whole current climate change becomes harder the more we fly and easier the less we fly,” says Mike Berners-Lee in How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything.

Increasingly, many people choose to take cheap economy flights for short city breaks, stag and hen parties in Europe which can add up to a hefty carbon footprint e.g.

- Return flight emissions Manchester to Paris (1218 km x 2) 210.45 kg CO2e

- Return flight emissions Glasgow to Berlin (2100 km x 2) 362.84 kg CO2e

- Return flight emissions London to Barcelona (2768 km x 2) 478.26 Kg CO2e


Long haul flights significantly impact your annual carbon footprint. A mini break to New York would account for 14% of the average persons’ annual carbon footprint (1.78 CO2e per tonne), with a holiday to Hong Kong being is equivalent to 25% (3.20 CO2e per tonne).

    iOffset Target:

  • The average person walks 210 miles per year. Walk 2.5 miles per week more for local journeys e.g. visits to local shops or school run and save 1.3 tonnes CO2e

  • Drive outside of rush hour if possible and save 22kg CO2e per 5 miles in crawling traffic in an average petrol car every working day for a year would be 4.8 tonnes CO2e

  • Swap a planned business meeting in Europe for a video call and save on average 0.35 tonnes CO2e

  • Swap a short-haul family holiday for four people to Spain for staycation in the UK and save 1.9 tonnes CO2e

EVERYTHING ELSE:

The “remaining” 23% of the average UK person’s footprint comes from “everything else” that we consume in our day to day lives. From health provision, education, fire and police services to water treatment and street lighting our tax contributions generate an average emission footprint of 1.7 tonnes per year. 

In addition we generate incremental emissions via direct activities such as non-food shopping with the growing trend of fashion making a significant impact on our emissions as we import clothing half way around the world to buy for less than a cup of coffee to only wear a couple of times before throwing away and contributing to the world’s waste problem. 

“The garment industry is one of the most polluting in the world, but some clothing makers and consumers are calling for a more sustainable industry” WorldBank.org

Many low-cost clothing stores offer new designs every week. In 2000, 50 billion new garments were made; nearly 20 years later, that figure has doubled, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The dizzying pace of apparel manufacturing has also accelerated consumption: the average person today buys 60 % more clothing than in 2000, the data show. And not only do they buy more, they also discard more as a result.

Less than 1 % of used clothing is recycled into new garments. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that every year some USD 500 billion in value is lost due to clothing that is barely worn, not donated, recycled, or ends up in a landfill.

    iOffset Target:

  • Before buying, ask if the manufacturers used sustainable criteria to make the clothing.

  • Buy a cotton shirt as opposed to a polyester shirt and save 3.4kg.

  • Repair clothing or donate what you no longer use.

  • Buy only what you need. In some countries, 40% of purchased clothing is never used.