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Cutting Carbon: At Home

In 2019, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a new record  – and they’re expected to keep rising. Thought the pandemic might slow down the effects of climate change? Not quite – the World Meteorological Organisation reckons the impact of the pandemic is like filling a bathtub full of carbon emissions, seeing it overflowing and just turning the tap down slightly.

So we know we need to keep reducing our carbon emissions wherever possible to avoid a climate catastrophe – but what can we do as individuals?

Cue Cutting Carbon – a series exploring how to cut your carbon footprint with some simple and affordable switches. Seen as we’ve never spent so much time at home, we thought that would be the natural place to start.

1. Switch to a 100% renewable energy provider

 


We’ve never spent so much time at home – but are we really looking at our home carbon footprint? Switching to a renewable energy provider is a great way to cut back the carbon emissions of your humble abode. Providers like Bulb are making it easier and more affordable than ever to get your energy from renewable sources – no DIY installing your own solar panels with the help of Gav from next door. 

By switching to 100% renewables, you can lower your carbon footprint by an average of 3.4 tonnes of CO2 a year. Plus it’s as good an excuse as any to brag to your friends and family and get them on the renewables train too. Look at you being a real adult and taking care of business and the planet.

2. Adapt to your environment aka get cosy


Our ancestors did not have the joys of central heating but survived many a cold winter so that you could live right here in this very moment. We can take a leaf out of their book and use less energy by adapting to the climate inside our homes instead of changing it by cranking the thermostat up. Layer up! Lean into cosy feelings and wrap yourself in a big blanket and/or duvet. Wear a woolly hat and fleece indoors and look like an intrepid 90s dad on a Lake District holiday for your next Zoom call. Invoke the spirit of your Northern mothers, grandmothers and those who came before them – who would always reach for their dressing gown and a hot water bottle before even daring to think about putting the heating on. Bonus tip: in the summer, you can freeze a hot water bottle for the opposite effect. 

3. Working from home? Make your home office as green as can be


If your working day now takes place mostly on your kitchen table, in your bedroom office or another godforsaken work-from-home nook, then you might have noticed that you’re using more energy (read: carbon) at home than you used to.

Watch out for vampire appliances. These are devices that still use electricity when they’re in standby mode – like a charger you’ve left plugged in even though your laptop isn’t on 3% anymore. In short, vampire devices suck. But you can stop them wasting energy by unplugging your appliances and switching them off from the wall. Slaying vampires in your home? This basically makes you Buffy. 

Always put your laptop to sleep if you’re taking a break from your desk too (and remember – you are allowed breaks from your desk). Take advantage of natural light as much as you possibly can – and invest in a good desk lamp (with an LED energy-saving lightbulb of course) to save you putting the big light on when that 4pm non-metaphorical darkness hits.

4. Get thrifty – recycle and reuse old furniture


Investing in your space has never felt more timely – and there’s loads of ways you can do it sustainably and on the cheap (our two favourite things). 

If you’re looking for new furniture, why not scour Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and charity shops for freebies or cheap bits and bobs? Go into your browsing open-minded and then create your very own daytime TV makeover moment – even the tattiest chair can be revitalised with a fresh lick of paint or some texture from fabrics.

You’ll cut your carbon footprint in more ways than one – by saving perfectly usable furniture from ending up in landfill and by omitting the manufacturing and transport costs it takes to produce and deliver new furniture. 

Shopping second hand instead of buying new saved 224,695 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2019 in the UK alone. And you have the satisfaction of telling everyone you know that your ‘new’ sofa is genuine vintahge.

4 Points