Top options to reduce your carbon footprint

An article by Plan A and Tara Bernovillet. Subscribe now to read more on the subject.


 

The unprecedented and bitter reality of climate change is hitting the world. Almost daily, scientific reports, news stories and environmental problems throw more onto the pile of evidence that our planet is in crisis. The increase of wildfires, the disappearance of endangered species such as polar bears and scarcity of natural resources are leading humanity to face the consequences of our excessive carbon footprint.

The science behind climate change is complex, and the outcomes uncertain. While environmental solutions must be implemented on a global scale, you can undertake day-to-day actions, to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment, at home and the office. Plan A has curated for you a list of the top options for reducing your carbon footprint. Say hello to a carbon-neutral life.

 

What is a carbon footprint? credit: W.Carter What is a carbon footprint? credit: W.Carter

What is a carbon footprint?

You have heard this concept everywhere, but you still find it hard to grasp the whole meaning of carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production, use and end-of-life of a product or service. It includes gases such as CO2 (the most common gas emitted by humans), including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. Those gases remain trapped in the atmosphere, causing climate change.

The term “carbon footprint” was first promoted and popularized by BP Petroleum, through its advertising campaign. The aim was to demonstrate that climate change is a result of individual activities, rather than oil giants themselves. Critics wonder if “carbon footprint” is a sham, misleading people in what truly matters, when it comes to climate change. However, “carbon footprint” can be expanded beyond the initial BP concept. You can reduce yours by being an engaged citizen who recognizes how to mitigate climate change’s impact.

Willing to push your galactic limits? Start monitoring your company’s carbon emissions, thanks to our carbon footprint calculator software.

 

The carbon footprint bucket list 

Like a kid writing a Christmas letter to Santa Claus, you can start your own “carbon-neutral” bucket list, at an individual level and corporate level.

 

Look at the sky, rather than hopping on short-haul flights.
Credit: Ali Abdul Rahman Look at the sky, rather than hopping on short-haul flights. Credit: Ali Abdul Rahman

Avoid short-haul flights

Greta Thunberg gave up on flights, and so can you. Short trips produce more significant amounts of GHG emissions, per passenger than longer flights. Around the world, aviation emits about 860 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, or about 2 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The issue is that aeroplanes emit more than CO2 emissions. It emits particulates, sulfur and nitrogen compounds, which highly contributes to climate change.

Also, 25% of jet fuel is consumed during takeoff, making short-haul flights the opposite of sustainable. As the industry is still working on electro fuels and miraculous technologies, the only solution now is, avoid short haul-flights. You do not need to eat a pizza in Napoli, each weekend, just because flights are cheaper than your monthly underground ticket.

Hop on a train ride, enjoy the landscape, sit back, and feel guilt-free. You will arrive on time and relaxed for your business meetings. Congratulations, you have made the first step to reduce your carbon footprint.

 

Welcome the green force into your home and office.
Credit: Jason Blackeye Welcome the green force into your home and office. Credit: Jason Blackeye

Switch to a green electricity supplier

Switching to renewable energy providers will reduce your office carbon footprint. There is an extensive panel of choices: from solar power, wind power, hydropower to geothermal power. edShifting to green energy, limits harmful emissions in the atmosphere, alongside decreasing air, water and soil pollution. Are you not convinced yet? Green energies have consistent prices, that will keep reducing within the next years. By acting that way, you will also reduce your electricity bill. Your bank account and the planet is thanking you.

 

Cooling appliances are by definition, not sustainable.
Credit: Ashkan Forouzani Cooling appliances are by definition, not sustainable. Credit: Ashkan Forouzani

Increase heating and cooling efficiency

Heating and cooling have enormous environmental impacts. For example, cooling towers take natural water from the environment, and once out of the cooling system, throw the water back into nature. However, the water released is hotter, damaging ecosystems. Another example is air conditioning, highly harmful to the environment. It releases tremendous quantities of CO2 emissions, increasing your carbon footprint. Improve your heating and cooling efficiency by lowering thermostats, and regularly changing your filters.

 

Bike to work
Credit: Tiffany Nutt Bike to work Credit: Tiffany Nutt

Go to work by bike 

Going carless is the best thing that will happen to you and your carbon footprint. Enjoy the many benefits of bike riding: diminished transportation costs, the end of traffic congestion, decreased carbon emissions and, improved cardiovascular health. At Plan A, all employees are going to work by bike, and let us tell you; they are in good shape. Want to know more about the environmental benefits of biking?

 

Work remotely, enjoy the comfort of your home.
Credit: Alizee Baudez Work remotely, enjoy the comfort of your home. Credit: Alizee Baudez

Work from home regularly

Did you know that the home office is significantly reducing your carbon footprint? As you do not need to commute to work, you are decreasing CO2 emissions released in the atmosphere. Global Workforce Analytics, estimates that working from home half the week can reduce emissions by 54 million tons every year.

Each day, billions of people commute to work, often by car, burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate. By working home, you reduce fuel usage while limiting the release of toxic pollutants. Also, letting your employees work remotely, it reduces your office waste by half.

Remote employees create less waste, as every tool used is digital (e.g. emails, digital note-taking, no printing). Running an office is also costly in energy (e.g. heating and cooling); remote work enables employees to monitor their energy consumption.