As an individual or household, there are many reasons to try to live with a lower carbon footprint. Climate change is already impacting the way that we live and the products and services that we have access to. This will only get worse if we allow the climate crisis to accelerate.
It can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself, or your household, to make more sustainable choices, but it is important that you do. We have the ability to make the world a safer and more sustainable place as long as we all do our part.
Here are some of the benefits of reducing your carbon footprint
1. Living sustainably can save you money.
Sustainability includes only using what you need and reducing waste. When it comes to your household, you have probably paid for everything that you waste. This includes wasted electricity, wasted water, wasted food, and wasted products.
Energy conservation will save you money. For example, moderating your air conditioner or heater temperatures, turning things off at the wall, or even installing solar panels.
Reducing food waste will save you money. The less food you waste the less you have to buy (and the less often you have to put a smelly rubbish bin out).
The fewer products you use the fewer you have to buy. Minimising the number of candles you will barely use, t-shirts you’ll only wear at Christmas time, and cleaning products you will only use once a year means you are spending less money. It also means that the energy used to create and ship those products is avoided and so is the carbon footprint they would have made. Less waste also means spending less on waste disposal. If you pay for your rubbish and recycling collection you can save money by having less to throw out.
For everyone using fossil fuels, there’s a carbon tax. At the moment it is only €20 per tonne but this will rise to 30 euro soon and to 100 euro by 2030.
2. Better air means easier breathing.
The evidence is pretty clear on this one – cleaner air means fewer sick days.This is especially true for people who have breathing difficulties like asthma or allergies, but everyone benefits from cleaner air. About 11% of global deaths each year are contributed to by air pollution.
Pretty much everything that has a carbon footprint also impacts air quality in some way. Processing fabrics, farming animals, driving a car, delivering a package – it all puts more particulates in the air.
Avoiding and reducing those activities avoids pollution. Carbon offsetting projects like ours go even further and actually help to clean the air.
3. Reduce extreme weather events.
Floods, droughts, storms, gales, hurricanes, heat waves, and cold shocks. All of them impact our lives, and rarely in a good way. Climate change causes extreme weather events and poses a whole lot of risks to us.
They can endanger our lives personally, as some storms and hurricanes do. They can stop us from being able to move around – as massive snowfalls or floods do. They can cost us more in heating and cooling bills, and they can generally make life uncomfortable. Your internet or power might be knocked out by a storm.
Further from home, they can also impact supply chains. This means you might not be able to get certain foods because crops were killed by droughts or floods. Certain services may not be able to get to you because the weather is too severe. Some supplies may become more expensive because they are harder to produce in a hotter climate.
If they get really bad, weather events can contribute to famines and droughts – that means even in developed countries that have never experienced them before we could have food and water shortages.
4. You might not have to move…
Sea-level rise and increased flooding are endangering infrastructure all over the world. If you live near a major waterway or the sea this could mean your garden is about to become a swimming pool. In some places around the world, huge numbers of people have already ad to move from coastal towns and flood plains. In some cases they are displaced for a few days, in others, they have had to abandon their homes entirely. Not only will that cost you a heap of money, but it is also a scary and stressful thing to go through.
Even if you are personally safe from this kind of risk, many people are not and that can impact your life through labour shortages and migration.
5. Maintaining safe working environments
More extreme working conditions for anyone who has to work outside would impact the cost of labour, health and safety restrictions, and the ability for people to do their jobs. Keeping the climate stable will avoid putting people and our supply chains at risk.
6. Better biodiversity
Birds in the garden, squirrels in the park, wildlife in the wild – they all benefit from a more stable environment. Many animal populations are affected by changing weather patterns and more extreme conditions, some to the point where they are becoming extinct. Reduced natural habitat spaces are also contributing to this biodiversity loss.
If we want to be able to experience the wonderful plants and animals of the world when we are older then we need to start living differently.
At the moment, climate change and habitat loss through human activity are strongly contributing to what is being called the sixth mass extinction. Engaging in reforestation and bogland restoration projects can help slow climate change while also rebuilding vital habitats.
7. Feel better
Climate anxiety is an increasing feeling around the world and across generations. Reduce the guilt, anxiety, worry, and stress about the state of the planet with the knowledge that you are doing your part.
Knowing that you are part of the solution, not the cause when you see awful images of turtles trapped in plastic bottles, or orangutans searching for food in deforested areas, can make a massive difference to your wellbeing.
Young people can feel these negative emotions especially strongly, so by engaging them in the solutions you can help support their wellbeing as well as their futures.