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How to reduce your carbon footprint

Eating, travelling, heating your home… What's the carbon footprint of these activities and how can we make more climate-friendly choices?

When you drive your car, buy a pair of trainers or grill a steak, you contribute to the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere - that's your carbon footprint. Many countries, institutions and companies have committed to reduce their emissions while the EU has even set the objective of being “climate neutral” by 2050. As an individual, you can also estimate your carbon footprint and reduce it.

What is a Carbon Footprint?

Greenhouse gases are emitted through the production and consumption of goods and services. Carbon footprint is a concept used to quantify the impact of an activity, a person or a country on climate change.

How much carbon is emitted to produce your t-shirt, meal or phone? The amount will depend on production and consumption choices. If we take the example of transport, taking the plane emits 285g of carbon per kilometre, compared to 104g for a car and 14g for a train. The same goes for the type of meat or fish you eat or the type of jeans you buy.

Why should you care?

Increased greenhouse gas emissions have a direct impact on global warming. It accelerates climate change with disastrous effects on our planet. All of us can contribute to fighting global warming by making climate-friendly choices in our daily lives.

How to limit your carbon footprint?

Understanding your carbon footprint can help limit the impact of your consumption on the environment. There are different online tools to help you estimate your carbon footprint. Small changes can make a big difference in the long run, for example when it comes to transportation, food, clothing, waste, etc.

Here are some tips:


  • Consume local and seasonal products (forget strawberries in winter)

  • Limit meat consumption, especially beef

  • Select fish from sustainable fishing

  • Bring reusable shopping bags and avoid products with excessive plastic packaging

  • Make sure to buy only what you need, to avoid waste


  • Take good care of your clothes (mend when possible)

  • Try swapping, borrowing, renting or buying second-hand

  • Buy responsibly-made clothes, e.g. made from recycled material or with an eco-label


  • Cycle or use public transport

  • Be smart about when and how you drive

  • Try the train for your next holiday

Energy and waste

  • Turn down the heating by 1°, it will already make a difference

  • Take short showers

  • Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or clean the dishes

  • Unplug your electronic equipment and don’t leave your phone on charge when the battery is already full

  • Don’t store unnecessary data in the cloud (learn more about your digital footprint!)

  • Select energy efficient products

  • Limit and recycle your waste

Source: European Youth Portal


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