Ten surprisingly simple ways to cut your carbon footprint

Living in denial? We are almost all guilty of it these days. I’m not talking about full-on climate change deniers, or those that simply don’t care. I’m talking about those of us who understand what the planet is facing but are paralyzed by the enormity of it.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by a problem this big. Every day, the news headlines tell of fresh tragedies, of fires, floods and droughts, or the recent shocking IPCC report talking of irreversible damage to the planet’s ecosystem. For many of us, it can feel like too much to bear.

We end up feeling powerless, or worse, resigned. We wait for governments to lead us in the urgent step of halting all fossil fuel emissions. But that means we end up doing nothing. By failing to make changes in our own lives, we end up just as inactive as those who deny climate change exists.

Let’s be clear. One person acting alone can’t save the planet — governments and the fossil fuel industry must reverse course dramatically. But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that together we can make an enormous difference to what the future looks like. If every one of us made small changes to our lives, collectively it would have a huge impact on global emissions.

The UN has come up with a list of 10 actions all of us can take to reduce our carbon footprints. While I’m far from perfect — I don’t do everything on the list — I’m striving to change my lifestyle. I want to be among those making a difference and hope to inspire those around me to do the same.

For me, the changes are small tweaks to the way I live. Moving to New York meant we were able to sell our car and rely on bikes and public transport to get around. Meanwhile, the pandemic has meant I’ve massively cut down on flying, something I hope will be a change going forward.

As a household, we’re also increasingly aware of what we throw away. We’ve become especially conscious of every bit of plastic we use. I now consciously reject businesses that rely on disposable packaging, and we reuse and recycle, as far as possible, every piece that enters the house.

Food also plays a big role. I now eat mostly plant-based meals, conscious of the harmful impact of the meat industry. I also help to reduce food waste by subscribing to a weekly box scheme that supports organic farmers by buying up the misshapen fruit and vegetables supermarkets don’t want.

These are small changes. But however scary things get, it’s crucial we remember that if millions of us get behind them, these actions make a difference. The UN Act Now campaign shows the power of collective action by connecting via an app those striving to reduce their impact on the planet.

Alone, these efforts can sometimes feel like just a drop in the ocean. But collectively they have the power to force a sea change. So, join us, shake off the denial, and start making a difference.

Below are 10 simple actions to cut your carbon footprint:

1. Save energy at home

2. Drive less

3. Eat plant-based foods

4. Fly less

5. Cut your food waste

6. Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle

7. Get wind or solar energy

8. Switch to an electric vehicle

9. Choose eco-friendly products

10. Speak up

Chief Communicator #UnitedNations promoting a peaceful, sustainable, just & humane world. Author: A Hope More Powerful than the Sea. Podcast: Awake at Night.