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24.01.2023

Reduce your carbon footprint – 10 Eco-friendly New Year’s Resolutions You Can Do In 2023

Buying locally grown food is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint

Reduce your carbon footprint in the new year

Do you make new year’s resolutions? Lots of people make them, but who actually sticks with them throughout the year and makes permanent changes? Most people aim very high, which is fine, but it does make it harder to keep. Here are some small but effective changes you can make in 2023 to reduce your carbon footprint, minimise waste, and support the health of the whole planet.

🛍️ Reuse your shopping bags

A single-use plastic bag uses a shocking 200 grams of carbon dioxide to produce! This number increases further after they have been transported and distributed to shops. Charging customers 10p per plastic bag has reduced their use by 20%, which is great – but we could do more. We probably all have several plastic bags at home – keep a few in your bag or car boot to use when you go shopping for quick way of reducing your carbon footprint. Lots of supermarkets now have soft plastic recycling facilities, so you can dispose of them here when they eventually wear out.

Paper or cotton bags seem like a good choice, but they do actually cost more in carbon to produce, so unless you are going to keep them and use them for a long time, just stick with the plastic bags you already have. Just be sure to recycle them properly after they can’t be used any more, so they don’t end up in landfill.

🥤Carry a reusable water bottle or coffee cup

It’s easy to grab a plastic bottle of water from a shop when you get thirsty while out and about, or get a coffee in a single-use cup. But most of these water bottles and coffee cups end up in landfill, even ones that are apparently recyclable. Many paper or cardboard cups are lined with a thin layer of plastic, making them almost impossible to recycle. Half a million coffee cups are thrown away every day, not to mention lids, straws and other rubbish generated by takeaway hot drinks. A whopping 7.7 BILLION plastic bottles are sold in the UK every year, and less than half are recycled, with many ending up as litter. The carbon footprint of producing a single plastic bottle is 828 grams, which is surprisingly high.

Using the Refill app shows where you can get your water bottle filled up for free – Morrisons, Costas and John Lewis are just a few places that offer this service. A lot of coffee shops including Starbucks do offer a discount if you bring your own cup too!

🛒 Be more mindful when shopping

Shopping for all kinds of things can be done more locally, which reduces the carbon footprint of the things you buy. Shipping goods all over the country (or the world) has a huge carbon footprint, so choosing local suppliers significantly slashes the carbon emissions of goods. You will also be supporting your local community by shopping locally. Of course, not everything can be produced in your town, but you can be more mindful about the choices you make when shopping. Most of these tips will save you money too. Here are some practical examples of how you can be more sustainable when shopping:

  • Before buying something, consider whether you really do need it. Avoid fast fashion and only buy new clothes when you need to replace something. Look for sustainable brands, check out second-hand clothes shops or apps like Vinted, or consider clothing rental services if you need an outfit for a one-off special event.
  • If you can obtain a second-hand version of something, go for this rather than buying new. This is especially true for electronics like smartphones, which are manufactured using rare earth elements such as cobalt and lithium. Mining these elements has a huge environmental impact which cannot be ignored.
  • When shopping for groceries, choose fruits and vegetables that are in season and can be grown in your country, rather than buying items shipped in from halfway across the world. Look for simple swaps – instead of buying baby corn flown in from Thailand, choose locally grown broccoli. If you have local farmer’s markets in your area, this is a great place to get fresh produce straight from the grower.

🥕 Grow your own vegetables

This is another great way to reduce the carbon footprint of your food shop, and it can be fun too! Growing your own food is not accessible to everyone, but if you can plant a small veggie patch in your garden or even grow a few herbs in window boxes and planters, it will make a positive difference. Gardening can be done pretty cheaply, especially if you get second-hand garden tools (hello Facebook marketplace) and equipment. You can also start a compost heap or bin if you have the space, and throw kitchen and garden waste in there to create nutrient-rich compost for free! Things like lettuce and other salad veg, tomatoes, herbs, and potatoes can all be grown in pots in a small outdoor space. If you don’t have any outdoor space at all, try growing microgreens at home on the kitchen counter.

🔌 Unplug your devices when not in use

You might not realise it, but electronics can draw power even when not turned on if they are left plugged in. Items that go on ‘standby’ mode like computers, TVs and games consoles are the worst culprits. These devices are drawing small amounts of power every day, which soon mounts up – unplugging them or switching them off at the wall when not in use can reduce your carbon footprint, save on your electric bill, and actually help to protect your devices against power surges too. Plugging items into a smart power strip allows you to set a timer, so you don’t even have to remember to unplug things.

🌼 Plant some wildflowers

A great way of offsetting your carbon footprint as well as giving the local wildlife a boost is to plant some wildflowers! You don’t need a garden, as wildflowers can be planted in a basket, planter or window box. If you don’t have the time or space to do it yourself, you can plant a patch of wildflowers through My Square Metre! For just £10, we will plant one square metre of wildflowers and monitor the site for 30 years, after which time your patch will:

  • Offset 3 kg of carbon
  • Provide food for 60 bees and other essential pollinators
  • Create a habitat for insects and small mammals
  • Stabilise the soil to reduce flooding and soil erosion
  • Promote biodiversity and support the whole ecosystem

All of the above is achievable by you for just £10 and zero effort on your part – we will even send you a link showing exactly where your wildflower patch is! Find out more and buy your own square metre here.

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