“What’s the point, I’m just one person”… said 8 billion people.
There’s a lot of alarming press surrounding climate change, especially in the run-up to World Environment Day on 5th June. In truth, that’s because the 2023 IPCC Report on Climate Change revealed some bleak facts. Mainly the human-induced global temperature rise of 1.1 °C that has caused unparalleled changes to our planet, from rising sea levels to extreme weather events to rapidly depleting polar ice.
However, you are not powerless to help. There are some simple changes you can make in your life, to reduce your carbon footprint and empower you to aid in protecting our planet. Every little helps. Read on for our top 10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
According to Britannica, a carbon footprint is the “amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with all the activities of a person or other entity (e.g. building, corporation, country, etc). It includes direct emissions, such as those that result from fossil-fuel combustion in manufacturing, heating, and transportation, as well as emissions required to produce the electricity associated with goods and services consumed.”
By considering your carbon dioxide emissions and making efforts to reduce them, you will lower your carbon footprint and help to keep the earth livable. We make choices every single day in the food we eat, the goods we buy, the way we manage our homes, at our workplaces, and the way we travel. Making conscious sustainable choices can help ensure our climate remains stable.
Shopping local ensures that you are buying goods that have less travel time, reducing emissions produced by delivery transport. Not only does this go towards reducing your carbon footprint, but it can also save you money. Whether you opt for local food produce or locally made fashion, local shopping has more benefits. It also helps your local economy.
Choose free-range meat and eggs, and organic produce. Opt for sustainable seafood caught via pole and line, handlines or spearfishing.
Avoid buying plastic packaged items. According to scientists, around 79% of plastic ends up in the natural environment or landfills. This can lead to human health issues and negative impacts on marine and terrestrial life.
More and more zero-waste stores are popping up. These offer a place to refill your own jars and bottles, or sustainably packaged items.
It’s best to avoid synthetic fabrics for two reasons. They are harmful to the environment and they really aren’t great for our skin. Choose eco-friendly, organic materials, like hemp or recycled cotton.
It’s very hard to find beauty products that don’t come in plastic packaging. Even the glass jars and bottles mostly have plastic lids. However, we have a couple of super simple recipes for you to make your own products at home.
First-world babies can produce as much as 10,000kg of CO2 annually. There are some steps you can take to keep your infant’s carbon footprint low. This includes using reusable nappies. This saves up to 8,000 disposable nappies from ending up in landfill where it takes them around 450 years to break down. Or breastfeed rather than use formula, which is not only costly but has a high foodprint.
You can also try making your own baby products at home. Read our tried and tested delightful recipes.
The fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions. The main problem is fast fashion.
The fast fashion industry relies on cheap, speedy and mass-produced low-quality clothing. Buyers are snapping them up in order to fit in with the latest and newest trends, and since it’s affordable.
According to a report carried out by the UK government, a single pair of jeans can take up to 10,000 litres of water to produce. And since fast fashion is most often produced in third-world countries, it is responsible for the high usage of their essential freshwater supplies.
A massive problem caused by fast fashion is that it is made from cheap, synthetic materials that are not only lower quality, with a tendency to wear quickly, but they shed microplastic fibres. These fibres end up in waterways through the grey water. Just one washing machine load can release hundreds of thousands of fibres.
We love thrifting.
Second-hand stores and charity shops offer a sustainable way to extend the life of clothes. You’re also less likely to feel buyer’s remorse when you hunt through the racks and find a bargain.
Online sites like Yaga and Facebook Marketplace are great sources for buying and selling pre-loved items.
Plastic is produced from fossil fuels, creating greenhouse gas emissions and adding to the climate crisis. Plastic waste is everywhere, from as deep as the ocean’s Mariana Trench, a whopping 11 km below the surface, and as high as the tip of Mount Everest.
Single-use plastic bags alone are responsible for the deaths of up to 100,000 marine animals annually. One of our favourite species is one of plastic bags’ main victims… the leatherback turtle. Jellyfish are a favourite food of leatherbacks and sadly, plastic bags in the ocean often resemble this jelly delicacy. When a leatherback chomps on a plastic bag, it can block its digestive tract, resulting in its starvation.
As well as following our homemade recipes, and other advice, here are our quick tips for reducing your plastic footprint.
Some ingredients in sunscreens and body products can bleach and destroy corals. One of the biggest draws of a beach vacation is the opportunity to appreciate a beautiful coastline and water activities, such as snorkelling. Coral reefs are not only stunning to observe, but they provide a crucial ecosystem for marine life and shield coastal areas from wave power.
So, if we want our wonderful coral reefs to thrive, then we each need to make sure we keep them protected. You can read more in our blog How to be a Savvy Sustainable Packer on Your Next Vacation
The blog includes a great recipe for homemade deodorant.
As it stands (or moves), the transport sector is responsible for 21% of total world emissions, with road transport accounting for three-quarters of transport emissions. Worryingly, the sector’s carbon emissions are expected to grow another 20% by 2050.
So what can you do to help reduce your transport emissions?
For vacation purposes, don’t just limit it to using an ethical airline. Choose destinations, properties, and tours with a light footprint. You can read more on this in our blog How Travelling Can Benefit Turtles and Disadvantaged Communities.
The kitchen is one of our happy places. However, it makes us a little miserable knowing that these spaces are responsible for a lot of a household’s carbon emissions. To cheer us up again, we put together a few of our tips for an eco-friendly kitchen.
Let’s start with your appliances. Make sure you choose an energy-efficient stove, washing machine, fridge or dishwasher. An A+ dishwasher, for example, is likely to use a lot less water than washing the dishes by hand in the sink. But before you go running out to buy something brand new, make sure you look for something second-hand first to keep your carbon footprint lower.
When it comes to cooking, look at your cooking methods. Does your oven really need to be preheated? Most modern ovens get to the chosen temperature in rapid time. Air fryers are a good option since they can cook food much faster than ovens. The bonus with an air fryer is that not only can it make healthier food, but they are usually far more energy efficient than most ovens.
Did you know that more greenhouse gas emissions are caused by agriculture than by several forms of transportation, combined?
There are plenty of ways you can be more home-conscious. Here is a useful list of our sustainability tips for your home.
Did you know that more than 80% of the world’s wastewater is released into the environment, without treatment?
We have a couple of wonderful recipes for you to try that ensure you can keep a clean house, without adding nasty chemicals into the environment.
We buy far too much.
The world generates over two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste each year. If you want to visualise what that would look like, imagine 822,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with trash.
What’s more, World Bank estimates that waste generation will increase to 3.4 billion tonnes in 2050. And once it’s in a landfill, it’s not going to miraculously disappear. Plastics especially will still be around in hundreds of years to come.
Of the current waste, less than 20% is recycled.
Included in the landfill waste are millions of tonnes of clothing and textiles. So even if you’re getting good at thrifting, what we really need to be asking ourselves is ‘Do I really need this top/pants/jersey?’
Why not rather repair or revamp items from your existing wardrobe? Get the sewing machine or needle and thread out and go through your darn pile. Take long skirts or pants rehem them into midi skirts or ¾ pants. Apply appliqués onto old jackets, or over holes in jeans or tops.
This also applies to furniture. Upcycling is a great new wave of creatively reusing and transforming items. So you want a new coffee table. Ask yourself ‘What’s wrong with my current one?’. Dog chewed the legs? Add some hemp rope to the legs to cover it up and give it a new look. Don’t like the colour? Sand it down and paint or varnish it to the colour you want.
The point is, upcycling is a fun way to give items a new lease of life and there are plenty of online tutorials for us less artistic types.
When you do have to buy something, make sure you purchase items that are made to last. This way, you won’t have to replace them as often. These upfront costs may be a bit higher but should save you money in the long run.
Despite the doom and gloom, more people are becoming aware of their footprint on the world and taking steps to keep it low.
And it’s not just individuals. United Nations members recently agreed on a treaty that will better protect two-thirds of the world’s oceans. International delegates attending March’s Our Ocean Conference pledged nearly $20 billion to expand and improve marine protected areas and biodiversity corridors. And European Union countries have agreed to push for the global phaseout of fossil fuels at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28).
If you only do one thing this year. Make sure you carefully consider your travel, and choose a responsible travel company for a guilt-free vacation. Fire Island Eco Retreats offer sustainable destinations, accommodations, plus nature and wildlife experiences, with a low carbon footprint.
Through our carbon offset partners, Fire Island Conservation, a percentage of your booking will be donated to community and marine conservation projects.