- Calculate your carbon footprint
This is vital to identify and understand which behaviours and activities cause the most climate change emissions. These activities contribute to what is called our carbon footprint.
The main contributors to this are:
- Heating and powering our homes,
- How we get around – particularly car use
- What we eat
- The things we buy
For households, there are a few tools available to help calculate your carbon footprint:
- WWF – very user-friendly and still pretty comprehensive
- Carbon footprint – this is a more detailed tool. It needs more information but provides a more detailed output
There are also more bespoke tools for other buildings/settings, for example Households | Creation Care
- Heating and powering our homes,
Based on your carbon footprint, why not choose a few key areas to start where you can make the biggest difference? There are lots of actions in this guide but all the options can be overwhelming! Pick a few that will start to reduce your carbon footprint and go from there.
- Educate others
Please share this guide with friends and relatives and be open to talking about why you’re trying to tackle climate change, and what others can do themselves.
- Encourage change at work too
A lot of this guide is tailored to changes at home, however, much of it also applies to the workplace. If you are in a position of influence at work, why not make sure tackling climate change becomes a key aspect of your company values? It could help you gain business and save money, as well as future-proofing against upcoming changes.
As an employee, work with colleagues to change behaviours. Consider setting up a sustainability/climate champions group or similar. And challenge your business leaders to take climate change seriously and act accordingly.
- Heating - use less
Fossil fuel heating is responsible for a large proportion of emissions so heating less is a quick way to reduce emissions. A quick win is to turn down your thermostat, if possible (if there are no elderly or young children in the house).
Better control and monitoring systems, for example smart thermostats, can also enable you to use less heat, by only heating the rooms/zones of your home that you need, particularly if areas are unused for all/part of the time.
- Hot water - use less
Similarly, using less hot water will save you money and reduce your carbon emissions. Simple changes like shorter showers, low-flow shower heads and washing up bowls should all mean you use less hot water.
Reducing drafts is an easy way to reduce heat loss. This could be as simple as using thick curtains or moveable draft excluders around doors and windows. Get more advice and guidance from the Centre for Sustainable Energy.
- Replace lighting for energy efficient alternatives
Switching lights to LEDs saves substantial energy on lighting costs and quickly pays for itself within the energy saved as a result. It makes sense to switch all your existing light bulbs.
LED alternatives can now be sourced for all sorts of light fittings. Remember to dispose of old lighting units responsibly.
- Switch off!
Turning off electrical goods and lights when not in use is an easy way to save money and energy that is otherwise wasted.
For example, turn off lights when leaving rooms and avoid leaving devices on standby.
Even devices like Wi-Fi routers could be turned off if you’re going away.
- Switch to a green energy tariff
This is a simple step that may not even cost much more than your existing tariff, especially if you haven’t switched energy providers for a while.
Switching providers is quick and easy and many suppliers offer 100% renewable tariffs. Check out your options using an Ofgem accredited price
Some energy companies have recently struggled as a result of increases in the cost of energy and have ceased to trade as a result. However, a process called ‘Supplier of Last Resort’, run by Ofgem, ensures that you will always have an energy supplier.
- Seek energy-saving advice
Using less energy is a great way to save money and carbon!
Contact The Environment Centre - a local organisation offering individual tailored advice to help you reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint, especially for individual households.
- Travel less
The easiest way to reduce emissions from transport is to try and travel less in the first place, which also saves money on fuel or tickets. Consider whether journeys are essential and how you might be able to consolidate trips.
Where possible and permitted, working from home can save emissions from your commute, particularly if you previously drove to work and had a long commute.
Where you have to drive, lift-sharing can work very well for certain journeys, especially the school run and your commute. Hampshire County Council provides some support via Hants Carshare, or Liftshare is a well-known alternative.
- Walk, cycle or run!
Commit to walking or cycling, especially for short journeys of less than a mile. It’s free, healthy and has none of the stress of navigating traffic! For regular, shared journeys, like the school run, you could also look to set up or join a ‘walking bus’ and coordinate with friends and neighbours. Challenge local schools to promote or organise this, as well as providing secure bike/scooter storage.
Cycling is an option for slightly longer journeys. Although it may be a more expensive option, you could consider an electric bike, which makes tackling hills easy.
You could even consider cycling to the train station, if you use the train for longer journeys. There’s some information on cycle storage at Basingstoke station on the South Western Railway website.
Wider information can be found on the Cycling UK website.
Lifestyle, consumption and waste
- Talk about behavioural change
Talk to others – friends, family, colleagues etc. Share your story and don’t feel afraid to press the importance of action, although it’s also important to explain why action matters to bring people on the journey with you, rather than just telling them what to do!
- Diet and food
Diet can form a large portion of our individual carbon footprint and is an area that can be targeted for reduction very quickly.
Generally meat, especially red meat such as beef and lamb, and dairy products have the largest carbon footprint. Reducing your meat intake, but potentially of higher quality (such as organic or local produce), can quickly help. Find out more information on the BBC's has a handy food calculator.
Although going vegetarian or vegan will have the most significant reduction, this may feel too big a change for many to start with, so why not try going meat-free for a day or two a week to start with? Not all vegetables were created equal! Air freighted fruit and vegetables will have a significantly higher carbon footprint than local and seasonal goods, or those shipped by boat.
Food waste is also a significant issue as emissions are generated in production, to just be thrown away. Waste charity WRAP have lots of stats on the impact of food waste. Simple ways to reduce food waste include planning meals, sticking to a shopping list and freezing as much as you can.
And food waste costs you money too! Estimates suggest the average home wastes £60 a month on food waste!
Buy less stuff!
Everything that we purchase has a carbon footprint, which comes from aspects such as manufacture and shipping, so buying less saves us money and helps our carbon footprint.
Consider whether certain purchases are really required, particularly large items. Or buy higher quality items that will last longer, especially clothing.
Unless you have to, try to repair old items or appliances before replacing them, as new products use energy to manufacture. This prevents waste and emissions. New ‘Right to Repair’ rules in the UK should make this easier and more affordable to do than it has been for some time.
Hampshire County Council has lots of ideas, especially around:
You could also be creative and try to ‘upcycle’ products which may have an alternative use.
Why not buy second hand goods and clothes? This could be from one of the charity shops in Basingstoke and Deane, which will help support these brilliant causes, or you could use one of the many online marketplaces that now exist. Finding and buying perfectly functional second hand stuff has never been so easy!
A lot of this guide is about how we spend our money, but how we save or invest our money is also a hugely powerful too.
Chasing reasonable interest rates is important to most of us, but we may think very little about what these banks or funds then do with our money.
These days there are an increasing number of alternative ways to invest or save money that will contribute to reaching net zero and tackling climate change. Read the Government's framework for Green Financing for more information.
Some ethical ways to save or invest include:
- Green Savings Bond from NS&I available soon, the government will use the proceeds of this to fund projects such as renewable energy, cleaner transport and protecting natural resources, while investors receive a return.
- Triodos bank has green or ethical accounts and options
- Abundance Investment has alternative ways to invest and support ethical projects directly
You could also ask your employer about their pension and how this is invested, especially putting pressure on them to stop investing in fossil fuels, or other businesses that contribute to climate change.
The natural environment
- Protecting existing land and re-wilding
If you have a garden and areas of grass, please don’t replace them with artificial turf.
Lawns and grass are important natural habitats and also help with natural drainage, which will be increasingly important as incidences of extreme rainfall are expected to increase.
You could also allow areas of your garden to grow wild. You could mow certain patches less frequently and even plant wildflower seeds. This is great for biodiversity and looks amazing!
If you’d like to go even further then why not consider volunteering for a conservation group? Find a list of local conservation groups on our website.
- Pesticide free
Please avoid using pesticides or pellets in your garden as they harm biodiversity.
We'd love to hear from you
Do you have any other ideas that are currently missing from our toolkits? Or do you have any suggestions on how to make our toolkits easier to use? Perhaps you have some ideas on tackling climate change?
If so, get in touch using the details below:
Climate Change team
If you have an enquiry about climate change or sustainability, send a message to the Climate Change Team