The big green guide to reduce your carbon footprint at night

Pawprint has teamed up with Lil, an East Lothian based social enterprise, to bring you 5 top tips for reducing your carbon footprint at night.

‘Lil’ is a purpose-driven initiative using the power of community to make the planet and people-friendly Lil things happen. They offer everything you need, and nothing you don’t! Lil stands for lower impact living and they are passionate about making more sustainable living easier for everyone.

They make it easy with subscription boxes, zero-fuss zero-waste delivered to your door, buy-one-gift-one initiatives, plenty of lovely everyday products, gifts and advice too. So far Lil has stopped over 1,000,000 pieces of plastic from polluting our environment.

Plus, every penny of profit goes into sustainability initiatives - workshops in schools, community groups and businesses, and swap and share events. They have big plans for next year with the opening of a new Lil Hub.

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1. Plan your meals to reduce food waste

Cost: there’s probably no cost to reducing food waste, only money saved on not having to buy more than you need!

Emissions: the average UK person’s ‘waste carbon footprint’ is around 700 kg CO2e per year; that’s a return flight to Zadar from Edinburgh! Even some small changes in this area will make a big difference.

If food waste were a country, it’d be the world’s third-largest carbon emitter (FAO). Plan ahead and buy only what you need, and, when you’re cleaning up from dinner think about the leftovers (plus what you’ve got in the fridge) to figure out a way to use it all up. At Lil, we love fridge soup (a combo of leftovers raided from the fridge - who knew mashed potato was a great soup thickener?) For more tips on reducing food waste, check out Pawprint’s blog, ‘Ten tips to reduce food waste’.

2. Raise climate conscious kids

Cost: if you already own a device that can access the internet, or a TV, then very little (bar your own time). We know there’s lots of very hard working Mums and Dads out there who don’t have hours to spend studying, but the good news is you don’t have to! If time isn’t on your side, learn alongside your kids. They’ll love it.

Emissions: teaching your kids to live climate consciously could save upwards of 4,800 tonnes. The same as driving to the moon 36 times in the average car.

If you have kids, spend some of the evening teaching/learning with them about climate change and how to live a sustainable lifestyle. In Mike Berners-Lee’s new edition of How Bad Are Bananas, he points out that having a child is probably ‘the biggest carbon choice you will ever make’. Conversely, teaching your kids to live a climate conscious lifestyle is probably one of the most impactful things you can do to help the planet.

For example, A baby born in 2020, into a family with a UK-typical carbon footprint, who grows up respecting climate science will have a carbon footprint of around 210 tonnes CO2e over their lifetime. The same as driving to the moon 1.5 times in the average car.A baby who grows up to be both wealthy and carbon careless? 5000+ tonnes CO2e over their lifetime. The same as driving to the moon 38 times in the average car.

Download our Carbon Footprint Quiz for Kids

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3. Swap out old, energy guzzling light bulbs for LEDs AND switch them off

Cost: the upfront cost of LEDs is certainly higher, but the energy they save over their lifetime more than covers it. For example, swapping a 60W incandescent bulb with a 7W LED saves around £16 per year; a £9 LED bulb would therefore pay itself off within 9 months. They last longer too.

Emissions: over 100 hours the energy used by an average incandescent bulb emits 2.4 kg CO2e; the average LED only 240g. It’s such a big win when it comes to carbon footprint reduction!

During these winter months, we have to have the lights on for longer, there’s no getting around that! But, by checking around the house for any old incandescent light bulbs and swapping them for energy-saving LEDs, you can seriously reduce the impact of all the extra energy usage. If this is a cost you’re not able to cover, no worries!

The UK Government recently launched its Green Homes grant, which is designed to help homeowners (particularly those with low incomes) improve the energy efficiency of their home.Go a step further and switch off lights in vacant rooms or outside (the cat can see in the dark!), cutting your energy bill and carbon footprint even further.

Top tip: Incandescent bulbs are not recyclable. Please throw them away in your landfill waste bin (Recycle Now)

4. Consider the carbon footprint of your bedtime book

Cost: there’s usually only cost savings involved in choosing lower carbon books; paperbacks as well as second-hand books tend to be cheaper.

Emissions: the average paper back book (where 60% of copies are sold) is about 1 kg CO2e. The same book printed on virgin paper with a glossy cover comes in at about 2kg CO2e. A book printed on recycled paper (if every copy printed is sold) is only 400g CO2e.

The health benefits of reading before bed are well known, but what about the carbon benefit?

The carbon footprint of a typical paperback book is about the same as watching 6 hours of TV, so unless you’re a speedy reader it’s probably already better on that front.  

In terms of your book choice, you can lower the carbon price of this nighttime activity by choosing paperback books that are printed on recycled paper over copies that are printed on virgin paper with glossy (or hard) covers.

To lower the carbon footprint of reading, you could also:Buy books second hand from a charity shopBorrow books from the library or a friendGive your books to someone else/donate them when you’re doneThen you’ll share the carbon footprint of your books with someone else

5. Avoid bottled wine

According to Prof. Mike Berners-Lee, the bottle typically has a higher carbon footprint than the wine inside of it.

Cost: some options will cost slightly more (organic can be more expensive than normal wine - although not always, especially when it’s on special) but boxed wine is normally a cheaper option so you could balance it out by buying an organic box!

Emissions: the average bottle of wine consumed in the UK but bottled in Britain or France has a carbon footprint around 1.3 kg CO2e.

There are a few easy ways you can lower the carbon price tag of your evening tipple: Buy boxed wine. If you don’t like how it looks, you can decant it into a nice carafe (pop it on the Birthday list if you don’t have one - remember to buy local if possible, and to support independent sellers). Buy wine from a distributor that imports wine unbottled. This cuts the transport emissions and (if you reuse your container that you buy it in) then reduces the recycling footprint too. Buy organic wine. We can’t confirm that it has a lower carbon footprint, but it will have a number of other environmental benefits.

As this guide has shown, sometimes the most impactful things you can do to reduce your impact don’t involve giving something up, but rather using your power to ignite something that grows bigger than you. Whether that’s teaching your kids how to live thoughtfully, using your spending power to vote for products and services that prioritise people and planet alongside profit, or making small changes that reduce your carbon footprint at night, in the morning or all day long, Pawprint and Lil are there to walk with you on the journey.  

Ready to take the next step?

Talk to our team