Simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Couple keeping warm on couch

Blanche Clark

Posted July 04, 2022


Caring for the environment and saving money go hand in hand when you reduce your carbon footprint by taking these small steps. 

Your home is your haven but when it comes to the environment it’s not so kind. Heating, lighting and household waste unfortunately contribute to carbon emissions, which interfere with the atmosphere. In fact, the EPA estimates that Australian households generate at least one-fifth of Australia's greenhouse gases

Making small steps to reduce your “carbon footprint” — the total amount of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane you produce as an individual (or household) — can have financial and environmental benefits. The online Australian Greenhouse Calculator is a handy way to find out how your lifestyle contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

From eating less meat to shopping at tip shops, here is a list of small steps you can take towards sustainable living.

 

Different bins for waste

Minimising household waste can help reduce your carbon footprint. Photo: Getty


Reduce your energy use

Develop new habits

There are all kinds of hidden energy users in your home. Save money and energy with small changes that focus on changing your habits, such as turning off appliances at the wall when not in use. 

Temperature control

When cold weather hits, instead of immediately turning on the heater, put on another layer of clothing as this may be enough to keep you warm. Set your heater around 20°C to 22°C rather than 25 to 27°C, as this saves on energy bills. In summer, the recommended setting for an air conditioner is 23 to 26°C. You can also improve your home’s insulation with double-glazed windows and quality curtains, and ensure that both your heater and air conditioner are running efficiently with a regular service.

Lightbulb moments

Two simple ways to save money and lower your carbon emissions are to replace your lightbulbs with quality LED lightbulbs and to invest in key appliances that reduce energy consumption.

Solar panels and batteries

There are long-term investments that are good for the environment. Installing solar panels can help reduce both your carbon footprint and energy bills by allowing you to generate and use your own renewable energy. A rise in battery sales for solar energy shows more Victorians are moving towards cleaner energy solutions.

 

 

Solar panels on house

Installing solar panels can help the environment and save you money in the long run. Photo: Getty.


Food for thought

Eat less meat

The rise of vegetarian and vegan diets has been linked to people’s concerns for the environment. A University of Sydney study, published in Nature Food magazine, found that greenhouse emissions could be cut by 61 per cent if 54 high-income countries switched to a plant-based diet. Becoming vegetarian is easy with plant-based recipes readily available, including this one for gluten-free zucchini pasta with mushroom and tomato sauce. 

Reduce food waste

Minimising your food waste is another factor to consider. From creative ways to turn leftovers into family favourites to starting backyard composting, you can reduce landfill emissions and lower your carbon footprint. Also, make sure you know what can be recycled to help reduce waste and landfill.

Plant the seed

With the price of vegetables soaring in recent months, growing your own vegetables may be an eco-friendly option that suits you. Depending on the volume of your harvest, you can save money, as long as you do your groundwork on the best location and soil for starting your vegetable patch.

 

 

Pasta dish

Minimising food waste is another simple step that you can take by turning leftovers into family meals. Photo: Unsplash.


Treasure that trash

Upcycle with style

Upcycling is all about taking something old and creating something new. For example, it could be knitting a tote bag using plastic bags or painting old CD shelving and using it to display a Lego collection or other prized possessions. 

Be retro active 

Buying second-hand goods gives products a second life, saves money and helps the environment. Even tip shops have become great places to find furniture, art, toys and technology that you can repurpose.

Wear and care

Sustainability has become a big issue for consumers and fashion trendsetters. Vintage clothing is booming, and eco-conscious consumers are rejecting cheap fast fashion. The idea of buying vegan footwear — footwear specifically made without animal products or by-products — is another popular way of expressing your care for the planet. Repairing clothes rather than throwing them out will also improve your carbon-reduction credentials.

 

Second-hand clothing for sale

Buying second-hand goods is a popular way of saving money and protecting the environment. Photo: Unsplash.


Sustainable commuting and travel

Consider alternatives

As much as we’d like to use our cars less — fuel prices are hurting our hip pockets — the reality is most of us need to drive for work, shopping, school and holidays. 

But there may be times when you can consider walking, riding or using public transport instead. The arevo journey-planning app can help, with information on dedicated bike lanes, bicycle-friendly roads and public transport routes, including alerts about delays or access changes.

Electric dreams

If you have the chance to buy a new car, consider whether petrol, hybrid or electric is the way to go. There are several factors to take into account, including your immediate budget and long-term costs.

The next generation of affordable electric vehicles makes the idea of owning a zero-emission car more of a reality for the average household. Even better, if you use solar energy to recharge your car at home, you can reduce your carbon footprint even further while eliminating fuel costs.

Carbon offsetting

Air travel is another area to consider. Sustainability Victoria says air travel has a greater climate impact per passenger trip than other forms of travel. 

Carbon offsetting is one way to compensate, and some airlines have partnered with accredited offset scheme providers who invest in environmental and clean-energy projects around the world. When booking domestic and international flights online, you may be offered the option to pay a small extra fee and offset your share of carbon emissions.

 

Electric vehicle

Electric vehicles are becoming more affordable and offer a way of reducing your carbon emissions. Photo: Supplied.