Living a more eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t need to be expensive. With these tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint, you will actually save (or even make) money.
Scientists have warned that we need to try to keep global warming below a 1.5°C temperature increase, or else we could face significant environmental impacts.
The ‘we’ applies to all of us, from governments to businesses to individuals. And yes, individuals can make and are making a big difference!
Best ways to reduce your carbon footprint
Here are the best and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint immediately:
1. Choose a green energy supplier
Switching to an energy supplier that uses 100% renewable energy is one of the easiest ways to significantly slash your carbon footprint right away. Tariffs with some green energy providers, like Octopus Energy, can be even more competitive than the ‘Big Six’ energy companies for most households. Cutting your carbon footprint and saving money make this one a no-brainer!
2. Avoid investing in cryptocurrencies
In the National Student Money Survey 2021, we found that the proportion of students investing in cryptocurrencies had tripled since 2020.But, what many don’t realise is that the mining of cryptocurrencies generates tens of millions of tonnes of CO2e each year due to being so energy-intensive.In fact, some experts have predicted that Bitcoin alone (not even including other types of cryptocurrencies) could increase the world’s warming by 2°C in about 20 years.
3. Use WiFi instead of mobile data
Using WiFi instead of mobile data is a small change, but a really easy one to help reduce your carbon footprint. It’s been suggested that using mobile data is over twice as energy-intensive as WiFi. This difference in energy usage will be most marked when using your phone to download and stream films and other big files.
4. Keep electrical devices for as long as possible
As tempting as it can be to get the latest models of phones, laptops or games consoles as soon as they come out, think about if you really, really need them.It can be a bad habit, both financially and environmentally, to buy new devices while your current ones still work. Electrical devices are incredibly energy-intensive to manufacture and dispose of, so it’s best to make good use of the ones you own to reduce your carbon footprint.Always recycle old phones to give them a second life, and you’ll get cash for them too.
5. Use an energy-saving plug
Getting an energy-saving plug (like this one) is such a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint at home. Each time you press the power button on your remote, the sensor will pick it up and turn off the TV completely, rather than just putting it on standby. It will also switch off any devices that are linked to the TV like speakers, saving time and energy.
6. Use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand
If you’re lucky enough to have an energy-efficient dishwasher in your student house, it saves water, time, and CO2e emissions compared to washing dishes by hand. This is the case when you use a full dishwasher at a low temperature. So, be careful to only run it when it’s filled, and you’ll be on track to reducing your carbon footprint.
7. Wash clothes less
While we’re definitely not suggesting you should avoid washing clothes when they genuinely need a clean, avoid washing clothes before they actually need it. Washing machines use a lot of water and energy, and therefore produce a fair amount of CO2e – but small changes to your laundry habits will really help. Wash clothes at lower temperatures (e.g. 30°C) and use the eco setting whenever possible to minimize the amount of carbon dioxide that’s being emitted.
8. Cut energy use at home
Being careful to only use the energy you need at home has the benefit of saving you money on bills and reducing your carbon footprint.
Here are some examples of easy changes you can make to use less energy at home:
- Replace old lightbulbs (especially halogens) with LEDs. They use 85% less energy, last 10 times longer and produce the same amount of light. No brainer!
- Switch off lights when there’s natural light or you’re not in the room
- Put on more layers of clothes instead of putting on the heating
10. Shop local and in season
Shopping locally is a big way to reduce your carbon footprint. In an ideal world, it would be great to only ever buy things that have been grown or made a walking distance away. But let’s face it, that isn’t always an option.
If you’re not able to buy something from your local area, or even from the UK, avoid buying products that have been transported by plane.
It’s not always clear how supermarket food has been transported, but think about whether it’s realistic for it to arrive by ship if coming from abroad (e.g. bananas have a better chance of staying fresh after a long boat journey than berries, as they’re thick-skinned and sturdy).
11. Only buy food you will eat
The UK produces millions of tonnes of food waste every year. Food (especially meat) takes a lot of energy to grow and transport, and so there are significant CO2e embodied emissions in the supply chain.
For it to then be thrown into landfills is a total waste, and decomposing food releases plenty more greenhouse gases.
When you factor in that a lot of food has single-use plastic packaging (something else to avoid), it’s clear that food wastage is a massive eco issue – not just a social one.
12. Reduce flights
For anybody who regularly travels the world by plane (especially on long-haul flights), flying will make up the majority of your carbon footprint.
This flight carbon footprint calculator shows that a return trip from Manchester to Los Angeles emits 2.5 tonnes of CO2e, half of a person’s total target annual budget. Aviation emissions are more harmful than normal emissions too due to being released higher in the atmosphere.
13. Walk or cycle whenever you can
This tip might not be the most surprising, but it’s definitely worth highlighting.As well as being great for your health, and a good way to save money on transport, walking and cycling are the most eco-friendly ways to get about.As further incentive to get around on foot or by bike more, find out how to save money on cycling and, better yet, how to make money from walking.
14. Drive carefully
Although we recommend walking or cycling wherever possible (or, if not, trying to get public transport), we get that it’s sometimes hard to avoid travelling by car.If you do need to drive somewhere, try to reduce the CO2e emissions of the journey by driving consistently and carefully, avoiding unnecessary acceleration or braking. This helps, both in terms of saving you money on fuel and lowering your car’s carbon emissions.
15. Earn rewards for recycling
We all know that we should be recycling as much as possible to cut down on waste and live more sustainably. But did you know that you could actually earn rewards from recycling?A lot of stores have recycling schemes that offer you free products or vouchers in return for empty containers. A few examples of stores with recycling schemes are Boots, Lush and MAC.There are so many great recycling schemes around, such as ones that let you earn money or vouchers for your old clothes, laptops, plastic bags and more. To find out more, see this list of the best things to recycle for money.