The concept is easy right? If a huge number of people make small adjustments to their daily habits, then the collective reduction in the overall carbon footprint can make a meaningful difference to the environment. Surely everyone has heard this mantra at some point, but there can be no harm in an updated reminder as a new year begins.
A carbon footprint is a measurement of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce through everyday activities. Of course we all know we can calculate our carbon footprint online - referencing our electricity and fuel bills and then purchase Carbon Credits to offset our carbon emissions. An average person can emit up to 20 metric tonnes of CO2 per year so sustainable investment expert, Charles Stephenson, CEO of Dubai-headquartered global investment company Advanced Global Trading, gives some tips to try and minimise carbon footprints in 2013:
Flick a switch
Before going to bed, turn the TV off at the wall and unplug the washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, outdoor lights and the kettle. We forgive you for leaving your phone on charge but did you know there are solar chargers these days? Even when your phone is not on charge, if the charger is plugged in you are wasting electricity.
Trade in your banger
Check the fuel efficiency of your car. If it’s old, it might be more cost effective to buy a new one, which will be far more fuel-efficient and should have a higher safety rating. If you really need to use the car, keeping to the speed limit and a steadier pace will reduce your fuel bill.
Use public transport
Could you walk, cycle, or take the metro or ferry to work and beat the queues? Using public transport wherever possible or carpooling will significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
Reduce your electricity usage
Air-conditioning consumes large amounts of electricity so with a little know-how you can reduce both your carbon footprint and your bills: Set your AC onto a warmer setting when you are out the house, even just a few degrees warmer will make a significant difference, especially in a large villa. Switch it off completely when you can during the day and then have it on only in the bedrooms when sleeping.
When living in a hot climate, planting trees around your house will afford you some shade, reduce your AC bills and create a microclimate for birds to survive. It is thought a single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48lbs per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings. You could also harness the power of the sun and invest in solar panels on the roof of your house to reduce your electricity bill.
Clean up your act
Did you know if you wash your clothes in cold water rather than 40 degrees you could save 228kg of CO2 a year? You could also save 318kg of CO2 per year by having your fridge regularly serviced, keeping the surface clutter free and regular defrosting. Also, try and use a brush and mop instead of a hoover at home and replace your electric lawnmower with an old fashioned push one - then you can even get fitter as a side benefit.
Replace bulbs with energy saving alternatives - and save money too
Inefficient light bulbs are slowly disappearing from the shops and being replaced by energy-saving light bulbs, which last longer. Fitting just one energy-saving light bulb can save you on average Dh16 a year - and by swapping all the inefficient bulbs in your home for energy-saving alternatives you could save around Dh300 per year.
You may no longer need that bed but perhaps you can reuse the wood to make a beautiful coffee table. Likewise, you may have no further use for your potato peelings, but if you create a compost box your garden will bloom far better than your neighbours. Take your lunch to work in reusable containers instead of eating out or food deliveries – which will also benefit your wallet. Refrain from using plastic bags at the supermarket and instead use recycled bags.
Fire the tumble dryer
Hang your washing to dry instead of using a dryer and – where it might take a little longer, especially in winter - once they are dry they should be much easier to iron. An A-rated tumble drier used three times a week will generate over 160kg CO2 per year.
Only buy sustainable goods
From sustainable environmentally-conscious clothes to furniture created from reclaimed materials, if you shop intelligently you can find excellent sustainable goods. Such as when grocery shopping - buy goods sourced locally, such as the Local Harvest brand in our own supermarkets, which don't have the large carbon footprint of imported goods.