Learning – Quick wins and Marathons


If you are a subsistence farmer in Africa, a villager in Bangladesh or a slum dweller in Rio — you do not need to reduce your carbon footprint – it’s already low. However, most of us living a “normal” modern life have relatively gigantic carbon footprints. We need to go on a carbon diet.

What are your Quick Wins? Things you could do today by making a different choice — that will immediately lower your carbon footprint.

What are your Zero Carbon Marathons? Making a significant change of direction. Some of these actions may be challenging and mean you will need to “rock your boat”. Most of them will be cheaper and healthier in the long run than a high carbon choice, however some (not all) may require up front financial investment.

Here are ideas of both types of action with links to sources of learning and experience. You’ll have to research and find your own solutions that fit your unique circumstances.

FOOD – Quick Wins

  • Simply by eating a healthy diet that follows nutritional guidelines and recommended daily calorie intake can reduce your food carbon footprint by up to 20%
  • Avoid wasting your food
  • Avoid food that has been air freighted

FOOD – Marathons

  • Grow some of your own food or do it with others. Example
  • Change your diet to one that is less carbon intensive. Read Read
  • Removing some or all red meat and dairy products from your diet can reduce your food carbon footprint by up to 70%
  • Avoiding food that has been grown outside Europe can give a further reduction of around 10%
  • Become more educated about the carbon footprint of foods.

Home/Accommodation – Quick Wins

  • Change to a zero carbon (renewable) energy supplier
  • In winter, lower the temperature in your home by a degree or two and wear warmer clothes instead

Home/Accommodation – Marathons

Extract from Zero Carbon Britain – Rising to the Climate Emergency
  • Insulate your home properly, reduce draughts and air leakage, install better controls
  • Install solar panels if you can
  • Change your home heating system to a low carbon system

Travel – Quick Wins

  • Choose not to fly (inspiration at flightfree.co.uk)
  • Change the way you habitually travel. Reduce your fossil fuel usage – drive efficiently. Walk more. Cycle. Car share. Use public transport. Stay at home!

Travel – Marathons

  • Change where you go on holiday. Make it local or go by train. Try Slow travel
  • Change to an electric vehicle (car, bicycle)

Everything Else – Quick Wins

  • Reduce your consumption. Reuse, repair, simply stop buying stuff and enjoy what you already have.
  • Borrow, Share, Lend the equipment and tools that you need to use… we don’t all need to have one of everything! Example
  • Use tools that run on electricity

Everything Else – Marathons

  • Without really choosing to, we have become used to a way of life that is full of consumption and therefore a high carbon footprint. Break the “Buy more, throw it away when it breaks or when it’s last year’s model” habit.
  • Ensure all the money that passes through your hands is contributing to and/or working for a zero carbon future. Include your pension.
  • When you plan on buying something, ask yourself a few questions first. Is this something I really need? Do I understand the carbon, biodiversity and social “footprint” that is associated with this product? If not, find out before you buy, so you are making a properly informed choice.
  • Overall — reduce your consumption