Around half of our carbon emissions come from the things we buy and consume
Why it matters
All of the stuff we buy adds to our carbon footprint. This includes everything from appliances, lightbulbs, phones and computers to tyres, clothing, food, and other household essentials. This also includes our leisure activities such as going on holiday.
As well as the things we buy, services from deliveries of things we’ve purchased online to banking also contribute to our carbon footprints.
Our consumption of the planet’s resources is threatening the wellbeing of future generations and the limited natural resources we depend upon.
This is not just about changing our diets and our behaviours towards consumption. If we buy less stuff, buy higher-quality products and keep them longer, we can reduce the amount we consume.
Food and drink
Food accounts for a massive 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Lots of things make up the emissions from food and drink, including growing or producing it, transporting it to us, and disposing of it if it’s not eaten.
More than half of the emissions from food come from animal-based products, especially beef and dairy. Beef farming is also one of the top reasons for deforestation.
Increasing the amount of plant-based meals you eat is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint – and it can be better for your health too.
We want to make food in Nottingham more sustainable by increasing local food production, reducing how far food travels before it reaches us, and making sure everyone has tasty and nutritious meals to eat.
In the UK, over 3.5 billion items of clothing are bought each year. It is estimated that the amount of clothes purchased each year will continue to grow, reaching over 4.3 billion in 2026.
As well as having a huge carbon footprint, microplastics are released by washing clothes. This is a problem for our planet’s oceans, as the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles end up in the ocean because of clothing.
Much of the clothing we buy ends up in the bin, where it goes to landfill or is incinerated. As clothes can contain organic material (cotton or wool), this breaks down after it’s thrown away and produces greenhouse gases such as methane.
What we’re doing
We are developing a sustainable food strategy for Nottingham and using local suppliers to reduce food miles and reducing food waste in school kitchens. We've launched a national pilot project with FareShare and Sainsbury’s to turn food surplus into meals for vulnerable residents through the Loxley House kitchen facility. So far, more than eight tonnes of surplus food has been made into 19,500 meals for those in need!
We are increasing the proportion of meals served in our schools to be plant-based and looking to increase the choice for plant-based food in our other council facilities.
What can you do?
There is a range of things we can do to reduce our consumption of stuff. These include:
- Eat more plant-based meals and reduce how much meat and dairy you consume – try Meat Free Monday
- Buy clothing or furniture second hand
- Repair and reuse what you buy to make it last longer
- Make a meal using seasonal fruit or veg
- Create a food plan for a week to reduce food waste