How to reduce your carbon footprint

Your carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that you produce in your day-to-day life. In the UK, the biggest contribution to our carbon footprint is from burning fossil fuels to meet our home energy and travel needs.  How we work, play, eat and shop all have direct and indirect impacts on our footprint too.

Global targets

To avoid the potentially disastrous effects of runaway climate change, the global average carbon footprint needs to be less than 3 tonnes per person per year. Currently in the UK, the average is 13 tonnes per person per year.

Many small actions make a big difference

Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do as an individual or as part of a community to reduce your carbon footprint.

Many individual steps to reduce carbon emissions often save money, and support your local economy too.

Through local initiatives, you can work with others in your community to come up with new and exciting ideas to reduce your total carbon footprint and combat climate change. This collective action reconnects you with your neighbours and with local goods and services.

Many institutions are promising to cut their carbon emissions by 10% in a year as part of the 10:10 initiative.

Calculating your carbon footprint

A good place to start when reducing your carbon footprint is to find out what it is now. There are many online calculators available to help you do this.

This quick and simple calculator provided by WWF allows you to calculate your carbon footprint in terms of the number of planets that would be needed to sustain your current lifestyle if everyone lived as you do.

For a more detailed estimate, the official Government Act on CO2 calculator measures your footprint in tonnes of CO2 emissions, focusing on home energy and transport use. This calculator also produces a plan to help you reduce your carbon footprint.

The Act on CO2 website also contains lots more information and ideas about greener living.

Cartoon image of a hatchet fish on a museum pass

Until 1938 whale carcasses were buried in the Museum grounds so that their flesh would decay leaving only the skeletons.