• Climate hub
  • 18 Jan 2022
  • 4 min read

5 quick wins: ways to reduce your carbon footprint

By Amy Hamilton Chadwick

Person on electric bike
Person on electric bike

Reducing your carbon footprint 

Reducing your footprint doesn’t have to mean massive changes – it can just be tiny tweaks.

Although it’s big business which is responsible for the lion’s share of carbon emissions, we Kiwis still want to do our bit! Our surveys show that Genesis customers are always looking for ideas for reducing the power use and carbon footprint of their households, so here are five quick ways that anyone can make a difference.  

The best ways to reduce your carbon footprint

1. Use less energy

Using less power is a real win-win: you save money and reduce your carbon footprint. There are plenty of ways to save power at home and at your business, including:

  • Turning off appliances on standby
  • Switching off lights when you’re not in the room
  • Drying your washing outside
  • Using your heat pump more efficiently
  • Replacing incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs

And if you’re buying a new appliance, don’t forget to shop for the most energy-efficient option. 

2. Save on fuel

Fuel is a major culprit of carbon emissions, and it’s expensive, too. Using less fuel is another win-win scenario. Instead of driving short distances, you could:

  • Walk
  • Cycle or scooter (electric or leg-powered)
  • Take public transport

When you do drive, you can reduce fuel consumption by pretending you’re an Uber driver: drive smoothly without sharp braking or accelerating. If you are replacing your car, check out the electric and hybrid options.

3. Cut back on plastic packaging

Single-use plastic is a scourge for our landfills and waterways – some types of plastic will be banned by 2025. Try to find ways to cut back on your use of plastic packaging:

  • Look for sustainably packaged items at the supermarket
  • Buy loose fruit and veges rather than pre-packed ones
  • Choose bulk backs rather than multipacks or smaller sizes – this is usually cheaper, too
  • Use washable plastic storage containers instead of wrapping leftovers in clingfilm
  • Buy paper bags for use in lunchboxes
  • Take a water bottle – don’t buy bottled water
  • Use a refillable coffee cup

This article from Consumer has some more great tips.  

4. Eat less meat

The more energy-intensive your diet is, the higher your carbon footprint will be. Many Kiwis eat meat twice a day, usually at lunch and dinner. Just switching to one meat-free day a week – meatless Mondays, for instance – would be a great start. The upside is that a diet lower in meat will probably save you money and be beneficial to your health.

5. Only buy what you need

Before you buy something, make sure you actually need it. Buying items that you don’t really need is a waste of money, energy and packaging. Clothes that never get worn; food that gets thrown out; kids toys that are played with for a week then take up valuable space in your house. When you do buy, consider buying second-hand. Lockdown showed us that we can break the cycle of consumerism; if you can keep it going, you could potentially work less or even retire earlier.

Big upsides for your life

It’s lovely to think that by making these changes, you will be treading more lightly on the planet and using fewer of our precious resources. But there’s more than just a halo to earn for your efforts. Every one of these behavioural changes can also save you money, adding up to a significant financial benefit, and by improving your diet and travelling differently, you could also enjoy a boost to your health.

It takes a slight shift in your mindset and potentially a tiny amount of inconvenience, but the upsides hugely outweigh the downsides. You can have not only a lower carbon footprint, but also a better life.

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