2019 was the year where climate change and global warming hit headlines around the world. From Extinction Rebellion to the UN Climate Change Summit in Madrid, it appears people are finally beginning to wake up to the urgent threat that our beautiful planet is facing.

Yet, whilst everyone is looking at their governments and individual organizations to make a big change and reduce their carbon footprint, how many people are actively trying to reduce their own? Of course, it is certainly important that these organizations adopt a greener way of life, we should also be looking in the mirror and attempting to reduce our own footprint.

If we want to truly reduce the threat that our planet is facing and become climate neutral, then we all must act and work together now. You might well be wondering just how big your carbon footprint actually is, but using this handy calculator will help you work it out – I guarantee you will be surprised at the result!

So if you want to make a change, there are many ways in which you can help to reduce your carbon footprint and one of the easiest ways to do this is to adopt the 5 R’s of the zero-waste approach. By keeping to the Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, Rot and Recycle routine you can significantly reduce the damage you are causing to the planet. So how do you put these into practice?

 

Refuse:

Say no to single-use plastics; too many of the products we purchase come in unnecessary plastic wrapping, particularly our food, so say no and move on to the next ‘R’…

 

Reuse:

Reusing bags and items helps to keep more items from entering landfills and helps you to reduce your plastic consumption. Reuse your own bags and stop the trend of single-use plastic.

 

Reduce:

In addition to reusing items, reduce the amount that you purchase. If we were all a little more mindful of what we are buying we would be able to significantly reduce our waste items.

 

Rot:

Think your leftover food waste should just go in the bin? Think again! Set up your own composting system and help to create a greener environment in your property.

 

Recycle:

We hear this word all the time, but how much do we really take it onboard? For whatever we are unable to refuse, reuse, or reduce then we should be trying to recycle. Make the effort to reduce the waste you simply throw away.

However, despite our very best efforts, we will all still create unavoidable emissions by simply going about our daily business. So alongside trying to adopt more practical approaches to our personal life, we can also make significant changes to the planet and offset our carbon emissions by purchasing Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) for cancellations.

CERs are earned by greenhouse gas mitigation projects in developing countries after a rigorous verification process managed by the UN Climate Change secretariat and put simply they help to cancel out your CO2 footprint. With each CER purchased, you are helping to bring our society closer to climate neutrality and supporting worthy projects that bring sustainable development benefits to countries that need it the most.

Each CER is an electronic certificate and is equivalent to avoiding or removing one metric tonne of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere; so by purchasing enough CERs to cover your entire carbon output, you are essentially making yourself carbon neutral; which is a goal we should all be striving for. They can also be used to comply with compulsory emissions reduction targets or for voluntary purposes.

It is important to remember though that simply offsetting is not a way to avoid taking action. Purchasing a CER is a way to make yourself carbon neutral and is just the start of the process of working towards climate neutrality.

The kind of projects designed to reduce greenhouse gases include the replacement of dirty fossil fuels with cleaner renewable energy, reducing energy consumption, making things more energy-efficient, and helping to capture already released carbon through trees and plants.

Can you be certain that your money is being used in the way you imagine? No, but this is the same process as any case when you are not giving money to someone directly. You are never aware of just how much of the money you donate to a charity is being used for good causes, but you trust that it is being used to help contribute to that cause.

By using a certified provider of CERs, each purchase you make with a company such as Climate Neutral Now is recorded and tracked in an electronic database operated by the UN Climate Change Secretariat known as a CDM.  Each CDM project also has to adhere to strict technical standards and are regularly and rigorously scrutinized through outsourced international monitoring, reporting, and verification process so you will always be aware of the benefits your money is creating.

You can of course visit some of the projects your funding is helping and see first-hand how your money is helping to not only reduce the carbon emissions being pumped into the air but also the benefits it is creating to the local community.

Purchasing a CER is a wonderful idea to help create neutrality on your carbon footprint but it is not a long-term solution. We cannot continue to live the way we are and simply attempt to cancel out the negative impact by spending cash. To become truly carbon neutral we need to reduce rather than simply offset.

That means that we need to make a systematic change in our attitude to our own CO2 output. Simply greenwashing the way we reduce our emissions is not a long-term solution and we need to be focusing on improving our day-to-day lives. Just imagine the positive impact we would have on this planet if every single person in the world was able to reduce their carbon footprint.

Once we have been able to reduce our own footprint and are living as the green of a life as possible, we can then turn our attention to helping educate our friends, family, and colleagues to do the same. There can be no denying the urgent need to address climate change, so let’s start together today.