• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Cleaning up on our carbon footprints

ByAnni Hodgkinson

Mar 24, 2023
Protest against climate change emitters

Anna Hodgkinson dives deep into our hidden emitting habits.

According to the WWF carbon footprint calculator, my footprint is equivalent to 7.0 Tonnes of CO2, which is significantly below the UK average (a whopping 9.5 Tonnes). Generally, I don’t like being below average, but in this instance, I feel like it’s something to be proud of. And something we should all be working towards, too.

While industry is responsible for a massive percentage of carbon emissions, small, simple changes as individuals can collectively make a huge difference.

Before moving to Edinburgh, my footprint scaled as high as 8.8. That was before I had to be conscious of my spending habits, had the convenience of a car on hand, and didn’t have to worry about electricity or gas bills. Now, as I roam the shelves of Aldi, attempting to ensure my fortnightly shop keeps below the £20 budget, I have the freedom to think thoroughly before I buy. As costs rise, it seems harder to make cheap, climate-friendly choices, but you will be surprised to find that there are easy changes you can make that are both affordable and climate-conscious. An easy decision for me was to cut red meat out of my diet completely, and all the money that would have once gone towards sausages and steaks is now put toward vegetables and whole-grain products. The agricultural processes in red meat production contribute highly towards greenhouse gas emissions, and cutting it out of your diet is one small, simple way you can help the climate.

In a city as big as Edinburgh, public transport is the most convenient and most climate-friendly way to travel. Why waste money on taxis or car insurance when a YoungScot card ensures free bus journeys? The investment into electric buses makes using public transport even kinder to the environment, and if you’re not feeling up to this particular mode of transport, the surplus cycle lanes employed around the city make Edinburgh a particularly safe place for pedestrians and cyclists.

Photo of cyclists in Copenhagen, Denmark. Credits: “Copenhagen Cyclists” by City Clock Magazine is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

In such a consumerist culture, it’s difficult not to get wrapped up in the attitude of spend, spend, spend. But the world is at stake, and some sacrifices need to be made. Do you really need that jumper, or is it just another fashion trend? Do you have to order that top online, meaning it must travel thousands of miles, or could you just walk into town and grab something similar? Reusing outfits seems like such a simple statement, but one that must be made. You don’t need a new outfit for every occasion, and I can certainly tell you that no one cares if you re-wear the same trousers in one week.

Material culture moves too fast for the average person to keep up, meaning that we’re all in the same constant fear of being left behind and rendered ‘uncool’. But let me keep it simple: global warming is uncool, not your wardrobe. It’s easy to think, “I’m only one person, what difference do I make?” and I often feel the same way. Surely, if I’m not recycling my cardboard or composting my food waste, someone else must be? But it is this attitude that is slowly killing our planet. Whether it’s taking an extra ten seconds to check all appliances are turned off before leaving the house or nurturing our green spaces, every small change you make matters.

Every day we don’t act is another day wasted, and by adapting our lives in small ways to reduce our carbon footprints, we can all collectively aid in the protection of our planet’s future.

Image:Climate Emergency – Families facing Climate Change” by John Englart (Takver) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.