Life after COP26: Reducing our carbon footprint

Warm yourself with a jumper before turning up the thermostat

Transition Town Letchworth is advising people to warm themselves with a jumper before turning up the thermostat - Credit: Julia Sonander

COP26 has been and gone—successful in some ways but disappointing in others. At least our world leaders have agreed to meet again in a year’s time with some plans drawn up.

We know that commitments made during COP 26 are not yet sufficient to limit warming to 1.5 degrees but it seems that the need for action is now understood.

One message which came out loud and clear was that we do not have time to wait for governments to enact their promises and that we, the population, can and must help by looking at our own carbon footprint and try to reduce it.

As winter approaches here are some ways for us to consider:

Have we put on warm clothes before we switch up the heating? For every degree that we can turn our heating down, towards 18oC, we can save about 10% on our heating bill.

Do we need to leave the heating on at night?

Have we blocked up any unused chimneys? Open chimneys are usually the biggest hole in our home creating draughts.

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Do we spend too long in the shower? Let’s challenge our families to have three minute showers.

Are we eating local seasonal fruit and veg? Try your local independent greengrocers and butchers instead of supermarkets, if you have time. That reduces food miles and packaging. Say no to over-packaged goods. Choose to refuse!

Could our waste food be reduced if we buy a little less food or adjust portion sizes? A recent residual bin waste survey found that 27.6 per cent of the waste in North Herts purple bins is food waste. That is shocking!

When planning to buy Christmas gifts try and buy locally and ethically and support the local traders.

Buy fewer clothes or buy second hand.

Could we plant a tree? Winter is a good time for planting trees and the NHDC have thousands of bare root trees to give away. Just go to their website.

Help the local wildlife to have an easier winter by leaving piles of leaves and sticks and by not cutting back perennials till the Spring.

Don’t attempt to try all of these at once but whatever you can do will help.

I once had a sweatshirt which said: ‘Living needn’t cost the Earth. Save it for tomorrow’s children’. That is as true now as it was 40 years ago.

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