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One of the sustainable lifestyle questions I continually get asked is “what high impact sustainable changes can I do at home that will make a big difference?”
Today I’m covering 5 of the main changes you can make. By high impact, I mean the changes that will dramatically change your personal carbon footprint. If you’re not sure what you’re carbon footprint is then check out this post: How To Calculate Your Carbon Footprint & Why You Should
As these are high impact changes they are all things that will have a significant effect on how you currently live your life. They all, bar one, require big changes and for some people may mean a complete lifestyle change.
The 5 high impact sustainable changes I’ve listed below will not work for everyone. We all live very different lives and have different home circumstances. I’m not suggesting that you do everything on the list, I’m not even suggesting you do anything on the list but if you have got to the point where you want to do more than just recycling your waste then this post may help you.
If you’ve found this post and you’re not quite ready to make big sustainable lifestyle changes then check out these posts instead…
1. Have Fewer Children
One of the biggest sustainable changes you can make is to have fewer children. Now I know this one is hugely controversial but you cannot deny the fact that every person on this plant has a carbon footprint. When a new person is born that is a whole new carbon footprint that will now affect our planet.
There are a growing number of young women that are going on ‘birth strike’. They are refusing to have children because of the climate crisis.
I must admit being a parent myself I worry daily about the sort of world they will grow up in. I worry if they’ll have enough food and water. I worry about the climate wars that some researchers are predicting will happen.
I’m well aware that me, already being a mother, writing about how people should have fewer children is hypocritical, but what I can say is that I definitely would be afraid to have any more children in our current ecological crisis. In fact I would go as far to say that I wouldn’t have any more because of that reason.
2. Live Car-Free
Choosing to get rid of your car is another high impact way for you to reduce your carbon footprint. Living car-free saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. (Environmental Research Letters).
Travelling in a medium-sized car produces 205.54 gCO2e/pkm
Travelling by foot produces 0 gCO2e/pkm
By switching from travelling by car or van to cycling or walking we can we can save 100% of our contribution to climate change. If we switch to public transport like trains or buses, we can save 50% or more. I think we all know that driving a car is not good for the environment the problem is that many of us rely on them to get around as we don’t have reliable alternatives.
Our public transports system, especially here in the UK, are just not up to the task. A journey that would take me 3 hours by car would take me double that by train and even longer by bus.
If you’re not in a situation where you can get rid of your car completely then how about trying to use it less when you can? I still have my car, it’s a very small one with the lowest emissions I could possibly get but I do still need it for things like doing the weekly food shop.
We recently moved closer into town which has meant I’m using it a lot less than I was before though which is great. My rule now is if a journey will take me 30 minutes or less to walk then I do that instead of going by car. As well as seeing my fitness levels improve I’m also saving a lot of money on petrol which is great!
3. Stop Flying
Travelling by plane has a huge environmental footprint. In some cases, one long haul flight can generate more carbon emissions than one person in another country generates in a whole year!
Travelling by air in the UK produces 362.23 gCO2e/pkm
By giving up flying or significantly reducing the amount of travel you do by air you will reduce your personal carbon footprint.
4. Switch To A 100% Renewable Energy Supplier
If you’ve made it this far without running for the hills then well done. I know this post is asking you to make huge significant lifestyle changes but there is one thing you can do that only takes a few minutes of your time, has a huge impact on your carbon footprint but has no impact on your daily lifestyle. It’s switching your home energy to a 100% renewable energy supplier.
Renewable energy is energy that is generated from eco-sources such as wind, hydro and solar power. The more people that switch to renewable energy, the more demand there will be for it and more investment will then be put into developing the technologies. This would mean less reliance on fossil fuels which are incredibly bad for our environment.
There are loads to choose from these days so do your research and find one that will work for you. You may even find you’ll save yourself some money every month.
5. Eat A Plant Based Diet
Here is yet another, sometimes, controversial way that you can reduce your carbon footprint.
‘Eating a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year’ Environmental Research Letters
Don’t worry I’m not going to get all preachy and tell you everyone should be vegans. I’m not actually vegan myself. I have a plant-based wholefoods diet and I very occasionally have to eat meat as we go places where there are no other options! One of the not so great points of living in the South West.
What I will say though, from a health point of view, eating a plant-based diet has made a huge difference to my life. I have so much more energy and I don’t wake up every morning feeling like I’ve been hit by a bus. It’s been life-changing for me.
If you’re not ready to go completely meat-free then perhaps consider having some meat-free days instead?
If you feel that you might like to try a plant-based diet then I’d highly recommend reading the book *How Not To Die Cookbook by Michael Greger. If you’re looking for plant-based meals that the whole family can enjoy then check out the book *BISH BASH BOSH.
About Gina Caro
Gina is a content creator and award-winning blogger. Her aim is to help you live a more sustainable & simple life. Her blog covers zero waste, minimalism, wellbeing & thrift. She currently lives in Cornwall with her partner, two kids and Charles the dog.