7 Easy ways to lower your carbon footprint today

We’re all responsible for a certain amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment. Each individual’s carbon footprint is calculated based on a number of factors, including the production behind our consumption of technology, clothes and food, for example, or the number of flights we take. By lowering our carbon footprint we can positively impact the environment.

We all know it’s good to recycle our rubbish and drive as little as possible, but our individual impact is affected by other, much more subtle, choices. Here are seven surprisingly simple changes you may not have thought of, which will make your day-to-day life a little greener.

1. Don’t put your greeting cards in envelopes

Even if you recycle your paper, it’s still preferable to not use it at all. You may not want to stop sending birthday and Christmas cards, but the envelopes are fairly redundant if you’re seeing the recipient in person. If they come included you can always save them to use when you have something you really need to post.

2. Limit your online shopping

With so many retailers offering free delivery and returns, it’s easy to think that the odd Asos order here or there isn’t a problem, but while an online shopping habit may not be a financial burden, each order and return is having an environmental impact. As well as the emissions from the delivery trucks, there’s also the excessive packaging of each individual product to bear in mind. Even factoring in the possibility that some of us may drive to get our shopping rather than order online, the carbon emissions will still be lower. Although of course if you can walk, cycle or even use public transport to get from A to B your carbon footprint will be lowered even further.

3. Think more about your light bulbs

It’s not just by making sure you’re not leaving things switched on that you can save energy on your lighting. Start investing in CLF (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, which are brighter, longer-lasting, and much more efficient than normal incandescent ones.

4. Wash your clothes cold

According to The Worldwatch Institute, 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes towards heating the water. Washing your clothes cold will save money on your energy bill, and is usually better for your clothes too as it helps to prevent shrinking or fading. Bonus points for ditching a tumble dryer in favour of airdrying.

5. Clean your fridge

Your fridge is one of the appliances which uses the most energy in the home, but it’s pretty crucial to most people’s day-to-day lives. If you pull it away from the wall and remove a back panel, you’ll find some coils hidden at the back. You can use your vacuum cleaner to suck away all the dust and dirt that has likely accumulated there, allowing it to use less power to keep the low temperature. Positioning it a few inches away from the wall will also make your fridge run a lot more efficiently.

6. Buy a thermos flask

Making your own beverage in the morning and taking it to work will doubtless save you some pennies, but even on the days where there’s no time, a thermos flask can still help you lower your carbon footprint. Contrary to popular belief, most takeaway coffee cups aren’t recyclable, and the UK throws away 2.5 billion of them every year. You can take your own cup into your local coffee shop and request they use that instead — your drinks will stay warmer for longer and be so much better for the environment.

7. Empty out your car

There are lots of ways to lower your carbon emissions by tweaking the ways you get from A to B — namely ditching the car altogether in favour of walking, cycling or using public transport. But if you absolutely have to drive, it’s worth emptying all the junk out of your car. The lighter it is, the less energy is needed to run it, so getting rid of everything you don’t need will make your fuel last longer. Plus, it leaves more space for car-pooling.