Minimise your carbon footprint this festive season with Low Carbon SMEs

Here are some tips to minimise your carbon footprint and take individual action on climate change:

1. Insulate your home : If you’re a homeowner, consider whether you can do more to reduce heat loss and cut your bills. Loft insulation usually pays for itself after just 1 year (or 2-3 years if you pay someone to install it). People on low incomes can get support with insulating their homes through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). You can contact  your energy supplier to see if you’re eligible.

2. Install low-carbon heating : Even a well-insulated house needs heating in winter. Switching to the best eco-heating option, a heat pump, can reduce your impact on the climate. It could cut your planet-warming emissions by up to 60. Air-source heat pumps extract heat from the air outside, heating water for your radiators. They even work when it’s freezing outside, which explains why Sweden uses so many of them. Ground-source heat pumps extract heat from the ground, so require a garden for a trench. They’re more expensive than air-source heat pumps, but also more efficient and quieter. Age UK is calling on the Government to expand grant support for heat pumps for low-income households.

3. Draught-proof your home : Draughty windows, doors and floorboards make homes chilly in winter – wasting heat and increasing your impact on the planet. You'll shave at least £25 off your energy bill when you draught-proof your home. Draught-proofing is straightforward using the Energy Saving Trust's helpful guide. If you’re renting, your landlord may pay for the materials or even get them professionally installed.

4. Develop energy- and water-saving habits : Smart energy meters can help encourage good habits, as they provide live information about how much energy you’re using. You could make an even bigger difference by replacing old, energy-guzzling appliances with efficient versions (A-G rated and above).

We can even make some of our regular habits more energy efficient, such as washing clothes. Wash at lower temperatures, wash full loads, and consider whether you can wear something more than once before you put it in the wash.

5. Reduce single-use plastic : Single-use plastic is produced from fossil fuels, so its manufacture creates billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases. And it goes without saying that the less plastic we use, the less that ends up in our oceans. The best option is to find alternatives to plastic wherever possible. Start with easy swaps when you go shopping - Friends of the Earth has more information on their website.

6. Plant power : Meat and dairy production accounts for at least 14.5% of global climate-changing gases. While beef and lamb contribute most to direct emissions, chicken and pork production needs vast amounts of soy animal feed, grown in areas cleared of forest in South America. Eating a bit less meat can really help. Start by swapping out half of the meat content in a dish for lentils or veg, which will slash its environmental impact, and boost fibre and nutrient content - a win-win for the planet and our health.

7. Waste less – save more : From growing crops to processing, transporting, selling, storing and throwing away food – everything we eat has an impact on the environment and the climate. Yet about a third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. Perhaps the easiest way to waste less is to plan meals before you shop, get creative with leftovers, and if you still have waste, compost it if you can.

8. Bank and invest ethically:  Many large banks could be using your money to invest in climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects. Switch to an ethical bank or ethical financial product. Ask your pension provider where they invest your money and consider switching to an ethically invested fund, which most pension providers will have. See ShareAction’s guide on how to switch your pension.

This article is by Alasdair Roxburgh, Director of Communications and Networks at Friends of the Earth and works with communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Source: