Best Practice: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint In 10 Steps
For those of you not aware, the climate crisis is getting worse as time goes on. According to the 2018 IPCC report, significant action must be undertaken to prevent global heating of 1.5C. In the report it says;
“Any increase in global warming is projected to affect human health, with primarily negative consequences (high confidence). Lower risks are projected at 1.5°C than at 2°C for heat-related morbidity and mortality (very high confidence) and for ozone-related mortality if emissions needed for ozone formation remain high (high confidence). Urban heat islands often amplify the impacts of heatwaves in cities (high confidence). Risks from some vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, are projected to increase with warming from 1.5°C to 2°C, including potential shifts in their geographic range (high confidence).”
Preventing this is, of course, very important, but the question typically is how? That’s why we’ve put together this guide, along with our friends over at Energy Kidz, to show how your school or club can reduce your carbon footprint. Please note that not all of these will be achievable for you, depending on your situation, but hopefully, some will be applicable. You may even be already doing some or all of these things, in which case well done. An additional thing you could do is send this guide to other schools or clubs to get them to take steps to reduce their footprint.
The goal here is what is called ‘carbon neutrality’, which means that any carbon emissions are offset by actions that reduce your carbon footprint. For example, say you drive a car, and the car emits X amount of CO2. You also know that if you were to plant a new tree, it would suck in an amount of carbon in a year Y. You can then calculate that to offset the amount of CO2 released by your car, then you need to plant enough trees that take in CO2 to match so that X=Y. Now before you get your shovel out, some easy little things can be done to reduce your school or clubs CO2.
Teach Your Children About the Climate Crisis
The number one thing that you can do to offset your carbon footprint is to teach your children about the climate crisis. Teaching your children about the climate crisis, and what they can do about it will dramatically offset your carbon footprint, even if it does so in aggregate and over a long period. What this means is if your children grow up to have a strong care for the environment and solving the climate crisis, this will affect how they make decisions later in life. What’s more, there is strong evidence to show that a child knowing about the environment has a big influence on their parents. There isn’t a need to go very into detail, but engagingly explaining the broad concepts is a great step to take. National Geographic has a short guide on this, available here.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
To reduce your carbon footprint, you must calculate what exactly it is, yearly. Several online calculators can help with this, a good one can be found here. It’s important to calculate a year’s worth of CO2 emissions because that will allow you to average out the days. A cold day where you need to put extra heating on, for example, could skew your results. You need a broad enough sample size to get a true picture of your emissions. It’s also important, to be honest about your emissions, and where possible, err on the side of having more emissions than you think. That way, if you overshoot in terms of carbon offsetting, then all you are doing is helping make the climate crisis a little bit less dangerous.
Set Up an Allotment with Bees
An allotment, or similar gardening set up, has several key benefits for reducing your carbon footprint. The first is that, as above, it can be a strong tool for teaching your children about the environment. Getting your children into gardening and growing their food means that they are more likely to take this up later in life than they would otherwise have been. The second is that providing bees with a home from which they can operate will have a dramatic effect on local ecosystems.
This will encourage plant growth, flower growth and through these things, capture carbon. Safeguarding concerns are, of course, an issue so this may not be something that many locations can do. The third impact on your carbon footprint is that food you grow can be consumed by your children on site. By doing this, you will have reduced the mileage that food would have to travel to essentially zero, and so the carbon footprint of the food you eat decreases.
Grow Wildflowers in Place of Grass
Wildflowers, just like allotments, have a dramatic effect on your carbon footprint. The reason for this is that grass lawns create a monoculture, rather than an ecosystem. If your setting has grass, you can rather easily turn them into a wildflower meadow. By just not cutting the grass as high (or at all) and stopping using pesticides, a wildflower meadow will grow. From a carbon perspective, a healthy ecosystem feeds others. Providing a place for insects, amphibians and birds to flourish encourages ecosystem growth. A healthy ecosystem will capture more carbon. As well as this, no longer running your lawnmower, or purchasing pesticides, reduces your footprint.
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Use Less Meat
Meat is one of the biggest polluting forces, not just because of CO2, but also because of Methane and Nitrous Oxide emissions. These are all strong greenhouse gasses and contribute massively to global heating, and the climate crisis. By reducing the meat consumption at your school or club, you will cut down your carbon emissions dramatically. The ideal would, of course, be banning meat at your setting altogether, but this may not prove popular. Consider instead running ‘Meat-Free Mondays’ or similar, limited changes. If these prove popular, you could seek to expand them. There is an added benefit here which is that vegetarian alternatives typically work out cheaper than purchasing meat.
Choose Renewable Power
As we said, not all of these things will be possible for you to do. If you can, however, installing renewable power generation at your site will help with reducing carbon footprint dramatically. It may also be a lot less expensive than you may have thought. The cost of solar panels and battery pack have decreased to a tenth of what they were ten years ago. What’s more, there are considerable funding sources available. More information on this is available here.
Encourage Public Transport Use
Transport is another area with a high carbon cost. If possible, you might want to consider encouraging public transport use. This can include things as simple as encouraging parents to use the school bus. It could also include booking overnight trips away to places reachable by train instead of flying.
You may have seen some of the advertising for Ecosia, which is a search engine that uses advertising revenue to fund the planting of trees. Your internet usage can be very carbon-intensive, as much as 2% of global CO2 emissions, and more than flying. To see just how carbon-intensive using Google can be, go here. The alternative, Ecosia, does everything that Google does, including running advertisements which generate revenue. It then channels that revenue into planting trees, intending to prevent desertification and recapture CO2. You can read more about how they do this here.
Use Less Plastic
You are probably aware of the ‘Straw Ban’, as well as other attempts to ban single-use plastics. While many of these bans haven’t come into force, there’s little reason to wait. Plastics have dramatic effects on ecosystems, which means that we lose carbon capture stores. Where possible you should seek to limit your use of single-use plastics, replacing them with paper, cardboard or other alternatives.
Finally, it is possible to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your school or club by using magicbooking. For those of you who are not familiar with it, magicbooking is an online bookings system. It is designed to take the workload off school business managers, club managers and administrators. It does this by streamlining processes and automating tasks. Crucially, because magicbooking handles most of the admin tasks, it enables them to become paperless. Becoming paperless saves huge amounts off your carbon footprint since no paper has to be purchased, used or thrown away. Gone too is the need for pens, printers, shredders, paper bins and more.
You may still want to keep these things around for a while, just in case. The important thing is that with magicbooking, the amount that you use these will be so much less. Not only this, but magicbooking uses Microsoft Azure Cloud to operate and host data. This means that using magicbooking is completely carbon neutral since Azure Cloud data centres run on 100% renewable energy and by 2031 will have all their carbon costs off-set through carbon capture. We plan on going more in-depth on this with one of our feature in focus blogs soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
Want to see how magicbooking can reduce your carbon footprint? Book a free demo using the tool below: