I don’t think I’m the only one to feel that this crazy hot weather is a sign of things to come. The climate crisis is front and centre of my mind at the moment and is forcing me to focus more than usual on the carbon footprint of my activities. But it takes all of us doing our bit to make a difference, so here’s my ‘how-to’ list to cut your carbon footprint. I’ve focused on the top five highest emitting sectors in the UK and I think, if we all make these switches, we will all be doing our bit to combat the climate crisis.
Try, whenever possible, not to use the car. Did you know that over half the decrease in emissions between 2019 and 2020 was from the reduction in emissions from transport, which were down 19.2% due to the large reduction in road transport during lockdown? Even with this decrease, transport is the biggest emitting sector responsible for a whopping 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. It kind of goes without saying to limit air travel too. Everyone needs a holiday but, maybe we can all enjoy the lovely weather in the UK a bit more now it is so hot? Or perhaps just limit your oversees holidays to every other year.
Eat local and seasonal food
As mentioned above, transport is the biggest emitting sector so aside from considering how we transport ourselves, we also need to think about how we transport our food. It has always seemed a bit bonkers to me to be transporting food hundreds of miles across the country when it can be grown on our doorsteps. We are incredibly lucky to have lots of local market gardens producing a whole host of tasty local food.
Eating local food can take some getting used to and it often means eating seasonally too. Both of these are habits which us modern day humans are really not used to. However, there are some real gains to be main here. We have had a local veg box delivered to us weekly for nearly 2 years now and, while it took us a while to get on board with the seasonal eating, we now have a stash of go to meals which use up any leftover vegs before our next delivery, and which are totally delicious. It also means we eat more vegetables and feel much healthier for it.
Check out the Our Food page for some awesome local food producers. Farm shops and farmers markets are also great places to find new food producers. Or ask around about local veg box schemes. It’s great, the food comes straight to your door. No hassle :).
Choose renewable energy
The energy supply sector had the second highest emissions (After transport) in 2020. This sector used to have the highest emissions so this is kind of good news as energy supply has seen major reductions in emissions. Energy supply is responsible for around 21% of UK emissions and most of this is from the generation of electricity in power stations from burning fossil fuels. The use of renewables to generate electricity has been increasing but there is still a long way to go.
We recommend switching to a renewable energy tariff. The best option is to find (or set up?) a Energy Local scheme to encourage locally produced renewable energy but this isn’t possible for everyone. For most of us, the best thing we can do is switch to a renewable energy tariff. Our favourite supplier is Octopus Energy because they have a cheap rate for charging our electric car, but there are lots of different ones out there.
Control that thermostat
I always thought this sounded a bit like a plaster to go on a gaping wound but the figures show that residential use of energy for heating, cooking, garden machinery, etc. is responsible for around 16% of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Most of this is heating and cooking (this doesn’t include those using electricity for heating, that is in the energy supply sector).
So perhaps it is time to invest in a thick jumper (from lovely local, sustainable wool) this year and turn your heating down a bit. Or as my Dad said when I was growing up and complained of being cold, ‘Move faster’. With rising energy bills, it will save you money too.
Reduce meat intake, particularly beef
This is controversial and I know many people who do not want to believe that meat contributes to climate change but I’m afraid the numbers don’t lie. Agriculture accounts for about 11% of emissions in the UK and most of this is from the digestion processes of cattle and some from the use of synthetic fertilisers. Let’s be clear here, we aren’t saying, ‘Don’t eat meat’. What we’re saying is, ‘Don’t eat meat every day’. Growing up it wouldn’t be unusual to have meat not just once every day, but several times a day. I don’t think we had any meat free days. We have adjusted our diet and now eat meat maybe once or twice a week.
As with the switch to buying local, seasonal food, it took a while to get used to. My advice is don’t try to do the same meals as before just without the meat. You need to seek out meat free meals which are packed with flavour. Don’t forget to make sure you get your protein though (beans and other pulses are great for this).
Check out our website for some great recipes to get you started.
So that’s it, my five top tips to combat climate change and the current crisis we are facing. We would love to hear from you if you have any other ideas or to hear how you got on making these changes.
Reference: UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (2022): 2020 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Final Figures. National Statistics