Welcome to the CAfS guide to sustainable living and reducing your carbon footprint.

In this section, you’ll find lots of information and resources to help you green up your lifestyle. Much of the guide is also relevant to businesses, but for more specific information please visit our business section.

Living sustainably means meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

To do that we need to protect our environment. But we also need to ensure that we all have food, water, shelter, healthcare, education and a decent income. Otherwise we’ll go back to plundering the Earth’s resources to survive.

You can find out more by looking at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or this video on Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth.

As the UN’s 17 goals show, living more sustainably isn’t just about your carbon footprint. Within this bigger picture, CAfS focuses on action to combat climate change, and the guides in this section look mainly at reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main cause of climate change.

Where do greenhouse gases come from?

Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. It is emitted from natural processes, such as breathing, but the huge increase of this gas in our atmosphere since the industrial revolution has mainly come from burning fossil fuels to power our homes, our transport and our industries.

However, it is not the only greenhouse gas. Methane, for example, has twenty times as much global warming potential, and comes from livestock and landfill, as well as from fossil fuels.

Make the change!

A volunteer from PACT helps repair a CD player at the Penrith Repair Cafe in August 2018Some aspects of your life will have a bigger impact than others on your carbon footprint. If you’re like most people, food and drink, household energy and transport will be causing the biggest chunks of your carbon emissions.

Food and drink account for a quarter.

Household energy is around 16%.

A car adds about 14%.

(Source: Small World Consulting. You might see slightly different estimates elsewhere, depending on the method they use and what they include in their calculations.)

Other ways you’ll add to your carbon footprint include shopping and waste, for example.

If you want to lower your carbon footprint and tread a little more lightly on the world, explore our guides below. They offer practical advice to help you make changes.

Lines v circles

At the heart of these guides is the idea of a ‘circular economy’, recognising that many of our resources are finite and we should be reusing them, instead of the ‘linear economy’, where they’re thrown away. There’s more about this on the box on this page.

How big is your carbon footprint?

Find out what your carbon footprint is now with the CAfS carbon footprint calculator.

As you make changes to your lifestyle, you can use the calculator to track reductions in your carbon footprint.

Find out more >

Pie chart showing average UK person's carbon footprint

Source: How Bad Are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee

CAfS guides to sustainable living

Browse our lifestyle guides below for practical steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.

Don’t forget to also visit the For your home section, where you’ll find guides and tips to help you use less energy at home.