Understanding your carbon footprint

COP 26 is underway at last and there have already been some headline grabbing pledges including the news that 100 countries have committed to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.   This is all essential stuff to set the world on the path to lower global temperature rises and to create more certainty that there is a future for Earth.  Our politicians and scientists need to know how much we care, so we must support as many initiatives as we can that prioritise the environment.

How we live now is a driving factor

But closer to home, there is always more we can do to lower our carbon footprint.  Around two thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions are directly and indirectly linked to household consumption, so the way we live makes a huge difference.  The big low carbon winners include living car free, driving an electric vehicle, and reducing the number of long-haul flights.  Researchers say we need a complete change of mindset and that each individual should run their lives within a personal carbon budget – one that the Earth can afford.  That would mean that we each have an annual carbon allowance and we would need to choose certain behaviours and activities over others.  As an example, one year I might choose to buy an electric car and eat a vegan diet to free up carbon so I can take a long-haul flight.  Others suggest that these carbon ‘rations’ could be traded so that each person achieves the best balance for themselves.

Where your money goes

The financial sector is also proving it can be a real force for climate good: many of the world’s largest investment managers are transitioning their funds to net-zero portfolios. This makes total sense, as investors do not want to be saddled with outdated technology or unsaleable assets. Even today, net zero carbon investments represent more than $130trn in assets under management. Green financial options are growing and how you save, invest and give away your money can have a real impact on the climate.

However, it is not all good news. There are some stark statistics that reveal that the climate crisis is being fuelled by finance: 35 of the world’s major banks – many of them household names – have provided £2 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the Paris Agreement in 2015 and this fossil fuel financing had actually grown each year since then! The big banks need an active policy to defund climate change and ditch petro-chemicals for good (Rainforest Action Network, 2020). It has never been more important to decide which financial organisations to support and which to boycott!

Simple household swaps to improve your carbon footprint

There are many easy ways to lower your carbon footprint while still cleaning your home and washing your laundry!  Here are some ideas:

  • Become a ‘conscious consumer’ and purchase local, ethical and environmentally friendly household products. Research your companies carefully checking their websites and external sources. Conscious consumers are looking for companies and products that have positive social, economic & environmental impacts.
  • Become an expert on product labels. Study ingredients lists and logos.  Know how to spot a fake and don’t be taken in by greenwashing.
  • Understand certifications. Responsible companies certify with well known organisations (usually charities) that offer total reassurance to the customer.  Examples include The Soil Association (organic), Allergy UK (allergy friendly), The Vegan Society (vegan), Cruelty Free International (no animal testing), POFCAP (palm oil free).  To certify with these organisations, companies must show that their operations are completely transparent and also pay inspection and annual charges.
  • Support your local zero waste store – and walk there if you can! Many town centres now have zero waste shops where you can refill bottles and containers with all kinds of products.  If your store doesn’t stock Greenscents ask them to get in touch info@greenscents.co.uk.
  • Set up a refill hub at home for laundry and household items. If you have space this is a great low carbon option.  Refill your existing bottles from 5 litre containers.  If you use Greenscents, these will last a very long time!
  • Purchase the most energy efficient washing machine you can afford – once your old one no longer works.
  • Always dry laundry outside in warm weather if you can and use energy efficient options during the winter months. A heated drying rack is far better than a tumble dryer as it uses much less electricity and is less expensive too!
  • Buy the most concentrated products you can find. The Greenscents range is super-concentrated and outlasts most other brands.  Super-concentrated products mean that water use is reduced and less packaging is used.  Because super-concentrated products weigh less, there is less energy needed to transport them.  Overall, a low carbon option!
  • Use washable cloths preferably made from organic cotton for cleaning. Organic cotton uses far less water during manufacture than conventional cotton and is therefore a lower carbon option.
  • Check out the full Greenscents range to support your low carbon habits. Shop here.

Further Reading