Not only is it good for the planet but it also makes you feel better!
You may have made your New Year Resolutions for 2016, but have you set intentions for reducing your carbon footprint this year?
With the Climate Change Conference in Paris last month highlighting the urgent need for the world’s nations to reduce their carbon footprints, Mukti Mitchell – celebrated eco trailblazer and author of The Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles (downloadable at www.lowcarbonlifestyle.org.uk) shares five simple ways we can all reduce our personal carbon footprint and play our part in reducing climate change in 2016.
After 20 years of experimenting with sustainable living, Mukti Mitchell passionately advocates that adopting a low carbon lifestyle improves your quality of life. “As you help reduce climate change you also dramatically improve your quality of life, so low carbon lifestyles solve both these problems together,” Mukti explains. “And you get immediate feedback, you’ll feel better within a month. Your gift to your planet is your gift to yourself.”
Mukti is the Director of CosyHome Company, winner of the CIOB Southwest Sustainability Award (2011), awarded for its energy-saving insulations for period houses and substantial contribution towards making Britain’s buildings more sustainable (www.cosyhomecompany.co.uk). He famously built and sailed an award-winning eco micro yacht around Britain in 2007 endorsed by The Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister and several environmental organisations, and his 45 talks en route extolling the benefits and simple application of low carbon lifestyles reached an audience of 10 million.
Mukti’s sustainability research highlights that a typical UK annual carbon footprint of 10 tons of CO2 per person comprises of five key lifestyle areas, emitting around two tonnes each: home heating, transportation, food production/distribution, holidays, and buying products. So for a low carbon lifestyle, he endorses insulating your home, sharing transport, eating organic local food, taking holidays by ground transport, and purchasing long-lasting products.
Here are Mukti Mitchell’s top ten tips for Low Carbon Living:
- Insulate your home by fitting loft insulation, draft proofing, secondary or double glazing, wall and floor installation (in order of cost and effectiveness).
- Use shared transport – buses, trains and full cars all emit a quarter of the emissions of a solo car journey.
- Eat organic, local food – ideally from small scale organic farms and gardens because agricultural methods can produce even more emissions than transport.
- Holiday by ground transport – due to radiative forcing, high altitude emissions are around three times more damaging. Travelling abroad by ship and train is also much more fun!
- Purchase quality, long-lasting products. Cheap and quality products have a similar carbon footprint in manufacture. Therefore if one product lasts five times longer than another it accounts for one fifth of the emissions over its life span. High quality products dramatically improve your quality of life and happiness.
- Live together! Get a lodger, rent a room or share a house. Sharing the carbon footprint of your annual fuel bills radically cuts your carbon footprint and saves you lots of money. And money is time!
- Optimise your travel. Give yourself time to think carefully about your journeys and whether they can be fitted together so that you spend more time during one trip but travel less often. This reduces tedious travel and creates more time to do the things you really enjoy.
- Cook from scratch – listening to music or talking to a friend while cooking makes it fun, while cooking this way involves far less refrigeration, processing and packaging. It also tastes 10 times nicer!
- Take holidays in your home country – it’s nice to get away in the winter, but in the summer, home may be the best place in the world! Getting to know your own country can be, surprisingly, even more interesting.
- Double up! The perfect pair of shoes is good for home and work. The perfect bicycle goes on and off road. The perfect coat is good for rain and shine. Versatile products can take more time to find, but once we have them, they serve multiple purposes and save physical and mental space as well as embodied energy.
“The most satisfying approach is to measure your carbon footprint and then aim to reduce it by 4% per year, which is easily achievable,” Mukti Mitchell elucidates. “Look at the different lifestyle areas that make up your carbon footprint and start with the ones you find easiest to address. Don’t feel guilty about your carbon footprint – we’ve all been encouraged that successful lives mean getting wealthy and consuming more! The bigger your carbon footprint is to start with, the more easily you can reduce it. And there’s room for treats with a low carbon lifestyle – occasional exotic foods from abroad or a drive to the cinema make little difference, it’s your regular daily activities that mount up across the year.”
You can measure your carbon footprint using the carbon calculator designed by Mukti. Recognised as the most user-friendly and accurate online, it’s available on the Resurgence magazine website: www.resurgence.org/carboncalculator .
For more information about Mukti Mitchell and the Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles visit his website: www.lowcarbonlifestyle.org.uk
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Since 2004, Will Gethin has worked as a holistic explorer and travel writer, writing articles for the Independent, the Evening Standard and various lifestyle, wellbeing and environmental magazines, including Tatler, Harpers Bazaar, Resurgence, Kindred Spirit and Yoga Magazine. In February 2012, he set up Conscious Frontiers, a leading edge communications, speakers and events agency giving voice to the growing movement of people working to propel a shift in consciousness. Inspirational speakers represented by Conscious Frontiers include Peter Owen Jones, Graham Hancock, Dr David Hamilton, Tim Freke, Dr Jude Currivan and Sarah Rozenthuler. Prior to founding Conscious Frontiers, Will also worked as a communications consultant, promoting humanitarian and intercultural organisations like The Isbourne Foundation, IT Schools Africa, The Makhad Trust, Tribe of Doris and Afrika Eye Film Festival. And he founded a Guest Speaker programme at the Isbourne Holistic Centre in 2008, bringing leading edge conscious living authors and presenters like Byron Katie, Graham Hancock, Dr Masaru Emoto and Brandon Bays to Cheltenham to present educational talks and workshops. From 1993-2003, Will worked in music, consumer and arts PR for London agencies, ultimately working as Account Director for Virgin Megastore at Borkowski PR. Will is also a Contributing Editor to Life Arts Media.
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