Individual Top Tips

If you’re wondering what you can do about climate change and nature loss, look no further. We’ve complied a list of effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Click on each button below for some top tips. Wondering which of these actions is most effective at reducing your carbon footprint, check out this page here.

Lobbying

Spread the word 

Why?

  • To ensure greenhouse emissions decrease fast enough to prevent dangerous levels of global temperature rise, we are going to need greater, and more urgent, engagement with society. Talking about it encourages others to think about it and hopefully spread the message further.
  • Write to your local MP to voice your concerns about the climate emergency. Check out this link for some tips on how to format a good letter or email to your local MP.
  • Keep the conversation going – talk to family/ friends / colleagues about what the climate crisis is and what you’re doing as an individual to reduce your footprint.

Eating

Buy local food

Why?

  • Over the course of a year the food we eat in Devon has travelled over 230 million miles generating around 240,000 tonnes of CO2. Devon has some of the best food and drink in the country, which is grown and made by people who are passionate about providing quality food. Buying Devon produce supports Devon’s economy, reduces your ‘food miles’ and means you know exactly where your food has come from. It’s fresher, it’s tastier and it’s good for Devon.

How?

Eat a balanced diet, with plenty of vegetables 

Why?

  • What we eat impacts our carbon footprint in various ways, but the good news is that if we all followed the recommendations of the government’s Eatwell Guide, then according to Carbon Trust analysis, we’d each have a much lower environmental impact than the current average UK diet does and be healthier! 
  • “In terms of the impact upon our current national emissions, if everyone switched to the Eatwell Guide the changes in diet would produce a personal lifestyle footprint measurably lower than at present.” The Carbon Trust 
  • Most of us need to reduce the amount of dairy and meat we consume to meet the recommendations – so make meat a treat, eating meat and dairy less often could allow more of us to afford to support better quality local meat and dairy – something Devon is famed for.  
  • Some people are choosing to become vegetarian or vegan, if this is something you decide to do, make sure you get a balanced diet to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. 
  • According to the UN, total emissions from livestock today represent 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions and changing our diets is one of the biggest changes, we, as individuals, can make to address our individual carbon footprint. It’s all about enjoying your fair share, but not too much. 
  • It’s also worth finding out more about what livestock are fed on and where meat comes from, as grazing land for imported meat and the need for land to grow animal feed is the single greatest driver of deforestation, including in the Amazon, which has major consequences for biodiversity loss.  

How?

  • Try this handy food carbon calculator where you can see the impacts of eating different food and drink types.  The calculator shows you the carbon equivalent as miles of driving a petrol car or days of heating your average home.  It also shows water consumption, energy use and land area used. 
  • Why not try to adopt meat free Monday into your week: https://www.meatfreemondays.com/
  • Need some vegetarian recipe inspiration? Check out this BBC Good Food Guide here.

Heating and Lighting

Community Energy

Why?

  • Community-scale energy projects enable proactive citizens to make the biggest possible difference. Community energy projects are a great way to both speed up and scale up the rollout of small- and medium scale renewable technologies. These technologies offer several advantages. For example, transmission losses can be kept to a minimum, because generation takes place near the point of consumption. In addition, local generation tends to encourage people to use energy more carefully. This amplifies the carbon savings and makes the power generated go further. The benefits of community energy initiatives go far beyond their direct impact on climate change, energy security and fuel poverty. Energy projects can give groups who don’t normally interact common ground and a basis for trust and friendship – not to mention a tangible reminder of their successful cooperation. Taking control of your own energy supply can also be highly empowering, boosting a sense of what’s possible among individuals and the community as a whole – and bringing a host of economic benefits to boot.

How?

Not got any suitable community energy projects in your area? Switch to a green renewable energy supplier

Why?

  • Switching to green energy is one of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. There are many on-line services that allow you to quickly and easily compare green energy tariffs to get the best deal in your area, and start saving money on your energy bills.

How?

  • There are many online services which help you switch to a ‘green tariff’ with all of the Big 6 energy companies now offering a green tariff however, chose your supplier with caution as some are more ‘green’ than others. Some suppliers simply decrease the amount of renewable energy other clients receive so yours appears more ‘green’ however, in reality, you are not contributing to additional renewable energy capacity, they are simply making everyone else’s energy more ‘brown’.
  • For maximum benefit, we suggest you chose a supplier who can prove that all the renewable energy they sell is produced by themselves on sites which they own.
  • Have a look at this Which article on “How Green Is Your Energy Tarriff?” or this article by the Energy Saving Trust which suggests some good suppliers.

Turn the thermostat down

  • Why?
    • Reducing your room temperature by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10% and save you around £50 per year. If every household in Devon turned their thermostat down by 1°C, we would save 75,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.
  • How?
    • See the information below on how to better insulate your home so the heat you do use is used more effectively and your house stays warm!

Insulate your home

  • Why?
    • Houses that aren’t well insulated need to use more energy to keep warm. Not only does this cost you more money, it also creates a much larger carbon footprint – especially if you aren’t on a renewable tariff!
    • While the initial insulation may require a bit of investment, it will pay off in the long run with lower bills, a more efficient home and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • How?
    • Check out this comprehensive guide which covers themes including tips on how to insulate your home and reduce heat losses from doors and windows.
    • CosyDevon is a council backed scheme offering a range of free and subsidised energy saving measures that can help you save energy and money. Find out more at www.cosydevon.com.

LED Lightbulbs

Why?

  •  There are two main types of energy efficient light bulbs available. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
  • CFLs are what you typically think of as an energy efficient light bulb. CFLs are a cost-effective option for most general lighting requirements. Replacing a traditional light bulb with a CFL will save you around £3 per year, or £50 over the lifetime of the bulb.
  • LEDs though more expensive to buy initially, are more efficient than CFLs and will save you more money in the long term. Replacing a halogen spotlight with an equivalent LED will save you around £4 each year, or £140 over the bulb’s lifetime.
  • If every household in Devon swapped two normal 60 watt bulbs for low-energy ones, we’d save over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.  Find out more.

How?

  • LED bulbs can be bought from all major retailers
  • If you are eligible or at risk of fuel poverty, LEAP may be able to offer you free LED bulbs to help reduce your fuel bills. Find out more here: https://applyforleap.org.uk/how-leap-works/

Travelling

Change how you travel

Why?

  • 68% of all car journeys taken across the UK are under 5 miles (and 23% are under 1 mile) and transport is one of the largest contributors to Devon’s carbon footprint. If we just had just one car free day every week, we could save over £120 a year on petrol bills and around 300 kilograms of CO2 emissions as well. 

How?

Reduce your flights

Why?

  • Aviation is the fastest growing contributor to greenhouse gas emissions at a time when we desperately need to reduce them. Although aviation currently makes up less than 5% of global emissions, this is because most people have never been on an aeroplane; the same people who will be hit first and hardest by climate breakdown.
  • For those who can afford it, flying can make up the single largest part of their carbon footprints. A return long-haul flight is roughly equivalent to driving for a year or eating a meat-heavy diet. Even if you take other measures to be environmentally friendly, one flight can wipe out those savings.

How?

Driving

We appreciate there will be times when you must use your car, but there are ways to make that more sustainable.

Eco driving

Why?

  • The UK’s Driving Standards Agency proved that by driving smoothly, avoiding sharp acceleration and heavy braking, fuel consumption can be improved by over 8%. For the average Devon household that’s an extra 1,000 miles for free. And we could also reduce CO2 emissions by over 120,000 tonnes per year.

How?

  • Remove the roof rack, avoid short journeys, stick to the speed limits and keep your tyres at the correct pressure. Drive smoothly and gently, avoiding hard braking or acceleration and stick to the speed limits. For more information, check out this useful guide from the AA.

Car share

Why?

  • Did you know that a commuter can typically save around £1,000 a year by car-sharing? Car sharing is a great way of alleviating the stress caused by travel and reducing road and parking congestion.
  • Liftshare has found that by sharing regular car journeys rather than travelling alone, you can cut your carbon footprint by over 10% a year. To date, Liftshare’s products, clients and members, have saved 154, 584 tonnes of CO2. That’s the equivalent of removing over 33,000 cars off the road for a year

How?

Washing and drying

Wash at 30ºc

Why?

  • Washing clothes at 30ºC instead of normal temperatures means you use 40% less electricity, saving you over £10 a year on your electricity bill and half a tonne of CO2 over the lifetime of the machine. If every household in Devon washed at 30ºC instead of 60ºC, together we could reduce our emissions by a massive 18,000 tonnes each year

How?

  • Wash all loads at 30c and if you want make it extra efficient make sure you always wash full loads of clothes and wash on the economy mode where possible.

Hang dry your clothes

Why?

  • Tumble dryers are incredibly energy hungry appliances. An average drying-machine cycle uses just over 4kWh of energy and produces around 1.8kg CO2. If all households with a tumble dryer dried one load of washing outside each week, instead of by machine, they would save over a million tonnes of CO2 in a year.

How?

  • Hang your clothes outside on a dry day or inside on a clothes rack during wet days. Consider investing in a heated airer which dry your clothes faster but are much more sustainable than a dryer.

Shopping

Reduce your consumption

Why?

  • Everything we purchase has a carbon footprint – fossil fuels and energy have been used to extract virgin materials, manufacture and transport every item.   We need to shop less – clothes, electronics, household items – and when we do, try to buy second-hand, find products that have considered their environmental impact (such as those that use recycled materials or materials from sustainable sources) and pay a bit more if you are able to for items of a higher quality that will last longer.

How?

  • Ethical Consumer provides advice on purchasing a wide variety of items.
  • Try to shop in local charity shops, support a good cause whilst avoiding fast-fashion. You can even use charity shops online. There are also a variety of online marketplaces where you can second hand things.
  • See the section about repair cafes to get your clothes and items repaired (for free!) rather than buying new.

Waste and Recycling

Food waste

Why?

  • A third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork. Producing uneaten food squanders a whole host of resources—seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labour, financial capital—and generates greenhouse gases at every stage—including methane when organic matter lands in the global rubbish bin. The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions.

How?

  • Don’t over buy, be aware of use by dates when you purchase fresh food, plan your meals in advance, freeze any leftovers. For more ideas, check out these handy 29 tips on how to reduce food waste.

Recycling

Why?

  • To produce new products from recovered materials requires fewer raw resources and less energy. That’s how recycling household, commercial, and industrial waste can cut emissions. Though the mix varies widely from place to place, plastic, glass, and metal comprise more than 50 percent of the waste stream from household level —all prime candidates for recycling.
  • Forging recycled aluminum products, for example, uses 95 percent less energy than creating them from virgin materials.

How?

Composting

Why?

  • Nearly half of the solid waste produced globally is organic or biodegradable. Much of it ends up in landfills; there, it decomposes in the absence of oxygen and produces the greenhouse gas methane, which is up to 34 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a century. Composting ensures enough moisture, air, and heat for soil microbes (bacteria, protozoa, and fungi) to feast on organic material. Rather than generating methane, the composting process converts organic material into stable soil carbon, while retaining water and nutrients of the original waste matter. The result is carbon sequestration as well as production of a valuable fertilizer.

How?