“I feel an obligation. The only way you can get up in the morning is to believe that actually, we could do something about it. And I suppose I think we can.”

– Sir David Attenborough

It’s not unusual, these days, every day for someone to ask me the question:

How do I reduce my Carbon Footprint?

It is something I probably think about several times per day. Each time I’m faced with a decision on how to buy, eat and live mindfully and sustainably. Each time I place a piece of single use plastic in the bin, see someone drinking out of a plastic water bottle or see parts of animals wrapped in plastic just sitting on the shelves in a supermarket.

The World recently came to a standstill as 300,000 people around Australia joined Climate Strike rallies to call for climate justice. These rallies are now happening regularly and aim to raise awareness, to make a stand to governments and corporations around the World and to ultimately save our planet.

There are many things that we can try to avoid, or control, but ultimately there are larger problems which need to be addressed by the government and our World leaders. Our power as consumers is huge but even being super vigilant you can easily get caught out by unnecessary plastic waste.

This blog post addresses the things that we CAN control. The small changes that we can all make, that don’t break the bank and that make us feel better about doing our bit to save our wonderful planet.

What is the average person’s carbon footprint?

Did you know that the average human living in the UK is responsible for around 13 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year? Compared to other countries this is pretty low. In the U.S. it’s estimated to average at around 21 tonnes.

Assuming that a single tree absorbs up to 1 ton of CO2 in their lifetime it would take 13 trees around 40 years to offset the annual emissions of a SINGLE PERSON in the UK.

These emissions come from travel, waste, energy consumption and generally the air that we breathe! Everything we do results in dangerous greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. These gases result in a ‘blanket’ of gases which trap the heat and gases in our atmosphere. This causes the Earth to heat up and results in the unusual weather patterns and dangerous climate changes that we are seeing even now but that are predicted to worsen over the next 40 years if nothing is done to reign it in.

So many people have been affected by David Attenborough’s most recent documentary ‘Our Planet’ and it’s fantastic that it’s got us all talking about climate change and how we can all do our bit.

The biggest question arising from the series seems to be ‘What can we, as individuals, do to lower emissions and help the planet?’

We’ve compiled a list of ways in which we are reducing our own Carbon Footprints, in a language that we understand, and in ways that we know are achievable.

1. Live mindfully and sustainably by following the 5 Rs:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

A great way to start is to be simply be mindful of your every-day actions. For so long we have been brought up to just accept the ways that things are. We don’t question when someone says to pop something in the bin. We don’t even really wonder where it goes because every week someone takes it away and we needn’t think about it any more. Be mindful of your actions and the result of them and you will automatically realise where changes can be made.

REFUSE – Question everything. Refuse plastic bags, leave unnecessary plastic wrapping at the supermarket. Remember how powerful your choices as a consumer can be.

REUSE – We live in a World of fast fashion, constant change and waste. Bring back the old saying ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’ because it is so TRUE! If it can be fixed – fix it! Buy a cool canvas bag for your shopping, get yourself a Keep Cup and a reusable water bottle. The feeling you get when you realise that you are not contributing to the massive landfill of coffee cups is totally worth the $30 initial payout. Most coffee shops will also give you a discount for using your own cup – bonus!

REDUCE – Reduce your consumption, your waste and your footprint. They go hand in hand. It may seem like small changes but they all make a difference! Reduce the amount of energy you use, the amount of stuff you buy and throw away. Reduce your meat and dairy consumption to make a huge difference quickly.

RECYCLE – Goes without saying doesn’t it? I recently visited a friend who does not recycle and when I asked where to put our empty wine bottles she pointed to the bin. The feeling of horror I felt made me realise how far we have all come in making recycling a part of our everyday life. In the UK nearly everything has a label which tells you what can be recycled and it has become something I now check when I am shopping.

ROT – If you’ve followed the rest of these tips then you should have very little left in your bins. However, if you’ve decided to make a pledge to the veg then chances are you’ve got a whole load of veggie peelings and scraps. These can all be composted and then used as fertiliser in your garden to grow your own veggies! There is literally nothing more satisfying than deciding what’s for dinner based on what’s ready in the veggie patch! Or maybe that’s just me..

2. Eat Less meat and dairy

How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Giving up or significantly reducing your consumption of meat and dairy could cut your Carbon Footprint by up to 2 TONS! This is especially true for beef and lamb. The research was carried out at Oxford University, UK and states that reducing your meat and dairy intake makes a huge difference. They said:

“It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car”

Agriculture contributes to greenhouse gases through…

Recent research shows 86% of all land mammals are now livestock or humans. Scientists have also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.

There are so many meat and dairy free alternatives available now and at much more reasonable pricing than in previous years. Soya, oat, coconut and almond are readily available and affordable. Soya and oat are recommended as the most sustainable form of milk however all of these alternatives are better for the environment (and your health!) than choosing cow’s milk.

Also, give the poor cows a break already.

3. Use less power and opt for sustainable power sources

How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

We’ve known these things forever; switch off the lights behind you, hang your laundry out on a dry day, use a cold wash, use the eco setting, cycle or walk short journeys…

But did you know that a charger that is plugged in at the wall, and not switched off at the socket, will still use some electricity? This goes for most appliances; hair straighteners and televisions being among them.

Switching them off at the socket not only saves on energy and reduces your carbon footprint but it can also save you money. The average household spends around £1,249 a year on heating and power, according to the Office of National Statistics, making energy one of the biggest annual costs for UK families.

Order a digital energy meter to track your energy usage and to remind you to switch things off. It’s surprising how quickly you get used to it and register seeing the number on the screen. You’ll be running around the house seeking out that pesky device on stand-by mode in just weeks, I promise!

4. Educate yourself and spread the word about climate change

If I had a dollar for every time someone rolled their eyes and told me to stop with my environmental lectures, I would have a very full piggy bank. Every time someone says ‘There’s nothing we can do’ I literally can’t believe my ears.

Have you heard the phrase: ‘It’s only one straw – Said 7.8 Billion People’?

Well, it works both ways. Thinking that your actions do not make a difference in either a positive or negative way is just not true. Supply and demand plays a massive part in the World we live in today; stop buying things, change energy providers, support good causes, refuse, reuse and recycle as much as you can and encourage others to do the same. The biggest changes we’ve seen in society have been made through people making a stand; join the revolution.

Be the change you wish to see in the World.

Educate yourself about the things that you can do in your day to day life as well as the way in which you can play a part in changing a World that has been created for us by consumerism past generations. Join a FaceBook group for inspiration, join a rally, follow @FridaysforFuture and make Greta Thunberg your new climate change Guru.

The fact that you’re even reading this blog post is already a step in the right direction.

5. PLANT TREES and offset your emissions

Ahh trees. We love ‘em! The lungs of the Earth no less! The Yin to our Yang.

Trees and plants absorb the Carbon Dioxide that we excrete and turn it into the Oxygen that we require as a byproduct of Photosynthesis. These tall friends of the Earth are being torn down, burned down and butchered for all sorts of reasons; for wood, for paper, for agricultural space and to build more houses for our ever growing population. Halting deforestation and encouraging reforestation would see the World in a much better state.

Did you know that your single average tree can absorb up to 1 ton of Carbon Dioxide in its lifetime? (Say 40 years) Now, maybe this doesn’t sound like a lot after we’ve talked about the amount of emissions that we are trying to offset BUT, as with all things, life is about balance. Tipping this balance and increasing our emissions whilst simultaneously cutting down the rainforests is exactly what has got us to this critical point in the first place.

You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned to stop travelling here. At The Mindful Travel Co. we believe that this Earth was made for exploring and we choose to assist with World reforestation rather than not see any of it. Not only that but the tourism industry is a huge income which many countries depend on. Travel joins communities and helps us learn from one another. Travel helps us learn about ourselves.

We encourage travel as strongly as we encourage sustainable living. We personally keep track of our carbon footprint and we have partnered up with non-profit organisation ‘One Tree Planted’ in order to offset our personal emissions plus those of our travelling customers.

Each of our tours and packages comes with a ‘tree rating’ which reflects the Carbon cost of the product plus how many trees we promise to plant on your behalf. We plant 4 trees per tonne of Carbon emitted in order to repopulate the declining forests and to offset your emissions quicker. All that’s left for you to do is enjoy your trip knowing that you’ve done your bit!

You can read more about the offsetting process in our Sustainable Travel blog post here.

How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

There are so many things that each individual can do to reduce their impact on the planet. In summary, here are the 5 top tips that we try our hardest to stick to:

1. Live mindfully and sustainably by following the 5 Rs – Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot

2. Eat Less meat and dairy

3. Use less power and opt for sustainable power sources

4. Educate yourself and spread the word about climate change

5. PLANT TREES and offset your emissions

If you need any further inspiration, watch this video from David Attenborough and Great Thunberg, which is guaranteed to get your eco-warrier juices flowing!

THANK YOU for reading our blog on how to reduce your Carbon footprint. I really hope some of you feel inspired to do your bit to save our World!

We’d love to hear any tips that you guys have and the eco-steps that you follow.

Please leave us a comment below and we’ll add them to our list!

You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook for regular inspo.