10 ways to reduce your individual carbon footprint

Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 11/11/2021

As world leaders begin to wrap up debates at COP26, policies are being put in place for the next decade to help prevent the impacts of climate change, with these changes likely to impact all aspects of our society and business.

But how can we make a change as individuals? East Midlands Chamber Sustainable East Midlands policy officer Amy Kopyrko continues with her eco series for Generation Next and looks at the small changes we can make to help reduce our impact on the planet.

  1. Understand your carbon footprint

The first easy way to reduce your impact on the planet is to understand your own footprint. This will give you more insight into where impactful reductions can be made in your daily life to help reduce your impact on the planet.

This is really easy to do, and there are a variety of online tools available to calculate your footprint for you by asking a variety of questions. Here are some examples:
WWF Footprint calculator
Carbon Independent Footprint calculator
Carbon Footprint

2. Renewable Energy

Opting for a greener energy tariff, or company that promises 100% renewable energy can cut c02 by reducing the fossil fuels needed to heat and power your property. It also supports the decarbonisation of the electricity grid. However, making the switch can often be confusing especially when it comes to green tariffs.

Uswitch Green Accreditation makes these green energy tariffs easier to understand by comparing criteria such as where the energy comes from and whether the provider is investing in long term renewable energy projects.

More information can be found here.

3. Travel

Begin thinking about how you can make more sustainable travel arrangements for work or leisure. Can you incorporate more active travel such as walking or cycling?

Does your local authority provide incentives or cheaper alternatives to driving?

Think more about your journeys, for example if its less than 1 mile could you walk? Or less than 5 miles could you cycle?

If driving to a workplace or group activity, could you lift share/ carpool? Carpooling is a great way to cut carbon and reduce congestion in UK towns and cities.

4. Waste reduction

Effective personal waste reduction can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Remember the three R’s? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. These practices are the pillars for waste reduction, by thinking about whether an item can be reduced, reused or recycled you can save items from landfill, but you could go a step further.

By adding two more R’s!
Refuse and Rot.

Refuse to buy or receive single use items by choosing things like reusable straws or carrying a reusable coffee cup or water bottle.

Creating your own compost or taking advantage of food recycling schemes reduces food waste in landfill but also gives back to the soil. Contributing to healthy soil captures carbon and helps create better ecosystem functions for plants and animals.

5. Say no to plastic

Plastic waste pollution is having serve consequences on our environment. It is estimated that only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled, a further 12% incinerated. This leaves 79% accumulating in landfill and the natural environment.

Some quick switches can be made to reduce your plastic consumption:

  • Plastic Free bathroom swaps- Switch to shampoo and condition bars, choose a reusable razor, bamboo toothbrush or compostable floss
  • Plastic Free cleaning products – These can be homemade using natural and cheap products and can also reuse old spray bottles. Recipes can be found online for window cleaner, surface cleaner, wooden floor cleaner and many more.
  • Buy loose fruit and veg – try your local greengrocer or supermarket and see what is available to purchase loose. Remember to take your own cloth or paper bag!
  • Check out any local refill stores – Refill stores stock things like lentils, pasta, shampoo, laundry detergent, and herbs and spices. These are a great opportunity to reduce plastic packaging and support small local businesses.
  • Try out a milkman – fresh milk delivered to you door in glass bottles. Some milkrounds also offer fruit juices in glass bottles as well! #winwin

These are just a few switches, more handy tips can be found on the Greenpeace website, the WWF website.

6. Save energy

Making small changes within the home to improve energy efficiency can save energy and money. Some straightforward ways of reducing emissions in the home include:

  •  Ask your energy supplier for a smart meter
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Switch to energy efficient LED light bulbs
  • Turn down your heating by one degree
  • Only boil the amount of water needed for you tea and coffee, don’t overfill the kettle
  • Avoid leaving appliances on standby

7. Digital footprint

Every time we search on Google, send an email or upload a picture to the gram we cause co2 emissions. This is because energy is needed for the data we are producing, the internet relies on physical servers in data centres connected with miles of undersea cables which require lots of energy to run.

How can you reduce your digital footprint?

  • Clean up your inbox and jet rid of junk
  • Use a green search engine
  • Download instead of streaming videos

 8. Meat consumption

The meat and dairy industry produces a lot of co2, 12-17% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined! It also depletes resources such as water and land. The Worldwatch institute estimates that 70% of the world’s freshwater goes on agriculture, 1/3 of this being animal feed crops. This is even more concerning given that only 2.5% of the worlds water is freshwater, and less than 1% is drinkable.

Just cutting out meat for one day per week for 1 year can save 789 bathtubs of water, and 2.98 tennis courts of forest! How cool is that?

To find out more about the impacts of cutting down on meat consumption check out Meat Fee Mondays to use the impact calculated and find some useful recipes.

9. Sustainable fashion

According to the World Bank the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global emissions. The industry are high polluters and the cotton used is a water intensive crop. As well as the impacts from manufacturing according to the waste charity WRAP more than 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in UK landfill each year. These textiles release methane as they degrade.

How can we shift to sustainable fashion?

  • Say no to fast fashion brands
  • Try repairing rather than buying new
  • If a garment is beyond repair, can it be recycled?
  • Wash on reduced temperatures and avoid tumble drying
  • Try to purchase organic cotton and avoid microfibres as these end up in our oceans as microplastics
  • Try buying second hand from platforms such as Vinted, Depop or Ebay

10. Raise awareness

Speak to friends and family about the changes you’ve made, especially when they have been easier or cheaper than expected. Personal stories can often be a really effective way of inspiring individual change, so share on Instagram, Facebook, with work friends or family and you never know how much positive change you may inspire!

This isn’t all on you! You may feel inspired to write to your local MP to voice any environmental concerns that you have for the local area, or suggest initiatives.

Together we can make a change, influence others and create a better planet.

The climate is changing, are you?


Generation Next brings together senior leaders from across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire to talk about the topics in business you need to know about. Its membership package also gives young workers access to its events programme – which connects delegates with likeminded individuals, as well as leading business professionals from across the East Midlands, to build their networks and skills. For more information on how to become a Generation Next member, click here.

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