How to make a positive environmental impact

How to make a positive environmental impact

If you finally decided to reduce your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact and fight against Climate Change, you are in good luck because you arrived to the right post to get you started. Here you will learn about the Individual Carbon Footprint and how can you take proactive actions to reduce it. This post will clarify what is the Carbon Footprint, why is so important, why should you know your Carbon Footprint, and finally what can you do to reduce your Carbon Footprint to make a positive environmental impact.

The Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person or an entity (e.g.: a building, an organisation, a country), an event or a product (e.g.: a pencil, a monument, a furniture or any kind of goods).

Direct emissions are those that result from the combustion of fossil fuels in manufacturing processes, heating, and transportation. Indirect emissions are those associated with the electricity consumption due to the release of emissions to the atmosphere during the generation of electricity process.

In a simplistic way we can say that it is the lump sum of all the GHG emissions released from cradle to grave of a product or service’s lifetime; in other words, the CO2equ released during materials extraction / sourcing / production, manufacturing processes, diverse transportations at different stages, use period, and end-of-life processing.

The history of the Carbon Footprint can be traced back to the 1990s when the concept of Ecological Footprint was coined at the University of British Columbia. However, real focus on our carbon emissions and commitments to reduce them only came to the front line with the Kyoto Protocol, adopted on the 11 of December of 1997. It entered into force on the 16 of February of 2005, after a rather complicated ratification process. This agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the world’s only legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse emissions, where participating countries committed to reduce the global emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels for the first monitoring period (Kyoto 2008/2012) and a reduction of an average of 18% compared to 1990 levels for participating countries for the second monitoring period (Kyoto 2013/2020). This is likely to be preceded by a new monitoring period that would run from 2021 until 2030.

All participating countries of the Kyoto Protocol are required to report to the UN:

  • annually on their greenhouse gas emissions (‘greenhouse gas inventories’) and
  • regularly on their climate policies and measures and progress towards the targets (‘biennial reports’ and ‘national communications’).

As you might have guessed, these international commitments from our countries require a coordinated effort from all individuals and entities living, working and doing business in the country. Under the Protocol, countries must meet their targets primarily through national measures. However, certain mechanism were also adopted to offer additional means to meet their targets by way of three market-based mechanisms:

These mechanisms also allowed stimulation of green investments in developing countries and taking the private sector on board at the same time. Basically, these mechanisms facilitated the first stage of GHG abatement where it was most cost-effective, i.e. in the developing world. Besides, it does not really matter where emissions are reduced, as long as they are removed from the one and only Earth’s atmosphere. 

The Individual Carbon Footprint

As an individual, your carbon footprint is calculated differently compared to an organisation or a product; your carbon footprint will greatly depend on your urban mobility choices, as well as your household consumption behaviours, such as your diet, your electricity and heat use, but also the consumption of personal goods such as clothes, furniture, electronics and appliances, cosmetics and personal hygiene products, and finally how much waste do you generate. Finally, although traveling is not a frequent activity, it follows the same concerns that we just reviewed for your everyday life: transport, diet, heat and electricity and generated waste. During your holidays, your behaviours also relax and you tend to be more lavish leading to more unnecessary consumption that increases your carbon footprint which doesn’t help the environment.

As a rule of thumb, the household carbon footprint increases with its income. The average carbon footprint of the wealthiest households is five times higher than the poorest. This is logical, as poor families will only purchase what is really neccesary and will stretch the life of certain items, such as clothes that passes from kid to kid in the family until it is almost rotted. Unfortunately, there is a deep-rooted believe in the society that wealthy people can spare. Subsequently, the behaviour of wasting takes grid in all levels of the society to show others that you are not poor because you can spare.

In the European Union, the Household accounts for a 10% of the total CO2 equivalent emissions, while Transportation accounts for a 19% and Electricity production is a 27%, as it is shown in the Graphic. Wealthy or not, each one of us have got the opportunity to take part in the reduction of the CO2 emissions through responsible consumption of goods, electricity, choosing low carbon means of transport and making efforts to reduce waste generation.

The best way to start reducing your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact is to calculate your current carbon emissions. This will allow you to benchmark your current CO2 emissions against others, and most importantly, will help you make informative decisions on sustainable actions. There are many Carbon Footprint Calculators in the web and depending on where you reside, your calculation can vary, so you should try to find one that applies to your country to make sure that the ratios used for your calculation are as similar to your country’s as possible.

Few examples of public and private entities that have developed online Carbon Footprint Calculators for individuals are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nature Conservancy, the British Petroleum, or the Carbon Footprint. However, you might want to do your own research.

Regardless of using a Carbon Footprint Calculator or not, at Pangea Green we have make it easy for you to start reducing your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact by following these 7 simple steps.

7 Ways to reduce your Carbon Footprint

As we mentioned before, your carbon footprint will depend on the household energy and goods consumption, your personal products purchased, the amount of waste that you generate, the means of transport you use for your everyday’s life and your diet.

Don’t try to change your entire habits in one day. This is a process that you want to absorb as part of your lifestyle, hence so start taking smaller but continuous steps towards the bigger goal: live a sustainable lifestyle that impacts as little as possible the environment, and hence making a positive impact.

If you are using a Carbon Footprint Calculator, check in which areas your results are above the average citizen, or you can chose to take action in those area which you actions will account more. You can also decide to change habits that will be easier to slip in your current lifestyle rather than targeting a change that will completely put your life upside down. Whatever you decide, make sure you can sustain it in the long term which will encourage yourself to take the next step towards your sustainable life. Track your progress, look at the results you got from your Carbon Footprint Calculator and compare them with you new habits carbon emissions. Most importantly, keep working on reducing your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact!


One choice most people take when they start this journey is to look at their diets and their food habits. A change in your diet is like getting 2 for the price (sacrifice) of 1. So let’s start making a positive impact in the environment and your body health!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), food production accounts for 20–30% of the global greenhouse gas emission (GHG) and up to 66% of water usage. Additionally, the EAT-Lancet Commission affirmed that food production is the planet’s largest cause of environmental change. They concluded that plant-based diets have the greatest reduction in land use and GHG, and they also used the least water.

Far in the past we dropped the myth that plant-based diets could not give you the necessary energy or a complete round of vitamins and nutrients that human beings need.

Sustainable diets consider the individual’s circumstances, the food chain and the subsequent impact on the environment. Factors that will impact the sustainability of your diet include:

  • nutritional availability
  • general health
  • biodiversity and ecosystem protection
  • relative cost

However, the best way to start reducing your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact is to shop and eat only what you need and waste as little as possible. Plan your meals and shop accordingly. The more thought you give to your weekly meals, the more efficient your shopping list will be and the less food waste you will generate. Another factor you should consider is the amount of packaging of the food products you purchase. Selecting reduced packaged products undoubtedly cut the associated carbon emissions of your shopping trolley and also involves less plastic waste going to your bin.

However, regardless of how much thought you put in, research points that increasing the consumption of bulk vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes while reducing the amount of red meat, processed foods, refined grains and added sugars will make substantial improvements in your carbon footprint while your body benefits from a healthier diet and less stress to digest your meals.

To translate all this theory into a simple rule of thumb, you should focus on buying local fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits in bulk, while reducing your weekly intake of meat. But if you cannot eliminate the meat completely from your diet, look for third party certificates on responsible farm management concerning to the animal’s diet, its health, its welfare and the impact of the farm management on the environment. Moreover, you can also check for certified humane labels to ensure the correct slaughtering of the animal without incurring in any additional and unnecessary suffering. If you can find locally produced meat that complies with all those requisites at your local market, you can be certain that your trolley carbon footprint is as low as it can be.


For the sake of this post, your household consumables are those products that you purchase on a weekly or a monthly basis in the supermarket and the like, such as house cleaning or other utility products.

According to the IEA, 2018 CO2 emissions from the chemical sector accounted for the 18% of the industrial CO2 emissions. However, estimations are not clear on how many grams of CO2 emissions per litre of product are related to cleaning products exclusively. Many household chemical products do not provide clear information on the ingredients or its toxicity.

Using green cleaning products can help to reduce the carbon footprint and make a positive environmental impact in addition to reducing the human health concerns that comes along with cleaning products. Hence choosing cleaning products that use less harmful chemicals or less energy in the manufacturing process, recyclable containers, or products that release less volatile organic compounds will be products that protect the users, their children and even their fluffy furry pets. Once these cleaning products are discharged into the sewage and later on into the environment, you want to make sure they are not toxic, persistent, bio-accumulative or life threatening to the wildlife and aquatic life. Check for the eco-labels that certifies what the product claims to be. Search for bio-based compounds, low VOC emissions, biodegradable, low toxicity, low flammability, neutral pH, and fragance-free products that will reduce the amount of chemicals.

Moreover, packaging of household chemicals can account for as much as 35% of the household plastic generation. Purchasing products in bulk or large containers can reduce the plastic waste generation and reduce your carbon emissions from the elimination or the reduction on the utilisation of 1 time use plastics.

Chemicals always come with instruction and manufacturers recommendations. Certain chemicals might also be incompatible with others or water reactive. So be safe and read the instructions first, do not misuse them and do a responsible consumption of the product.

One last consideration you might want to think about is how much do you overuse chemical products. Marketing strategies will create a need for every single cleaning products, but are consumers who assess how really useful the product really is in their lives.


Personal hygiene and beauty products have the worst fame when it comes to sustainability. It is a cliché that only hairy women and smelly men are truly sustainable, but the truth is that you don’t need to argue with your personal hygiene and beauty routines to take substantial steps towards reducing your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact.

Sustainability in your beauty routine starts asking how we feel about ourselves, how we behave, what we choose to buy and when to use it. A sustainable beauty products shopper will look for sustainable ingredient sourcing, vegan ingredients, animal cruelty-free labels, innovative packaging solutions, or natural and organic materials, but these days, the sustainable shopper will also check if there is refillable choices and even if it has got circularity characteristics.

The cosmetic industry is getting good note of the everyday increasing voice of the sustainable consumer and making measurable efforts to provide carbon-neutral beauty products and other requirements equally important when it comes to protect the environment and its biodiversity. Always make sure the product is not just using the “green movement” as a marketing strategy, do your research before jumping to trust one brand and make sure what they are advertising is truly sustainability and not just a clever green manoeuvre. Look for the eco-labels that certifies what the product claims to be.

Another factor that you can consider is its packaging. Buying in bigger container or bulk will be much sustainable than the small containers of premium brands. Plenty of studies have well demonstrated that more affordable brands can provide as good quality products as others only affordable for fewer pockets. Try to chose products and brands that are plastic-free. As we always recommend, don’t take our word for granted; do your research. Look for brands that allows you to reduce the amount of containers disposal.

With your beauty products at home, how do you use them? Do you use them responsibly or do you misuse and ruthlessly waste them. You might have tried a product for the first time that has not convinced you completely. However, you should be responsible enough to finish it before buying new ones. Contrary, if you really like one of your beauty product, make sure you use it responsibly. An excess of chemicals in your skin might as well generate some unwanted reactions so try to always read the instruction first and follow the manufacturers recommendations. Failing to have instructions and recommendations, read some reviews of others that have used the product for a while.


Are you ready to take measurable sustainable steps in your apparel? At this point you might think that you will need to dress in neutral recycled cotton, organic hemp or linen and forget about your prêt-à-porter fashion style. I have good news for you. These days, the myth is far away from the truth, as more and more brands for all pockets are taking responsibility for their impact in the planet.

When it comes to take action in the way your dressing impacts the environment, there is much to look into. That much that you could get lost trying to make the right choice. Starting from the material of the fabric, how was it sourced, how is it manufactured, or even how many kilometres did your item travel during its manufacturing process will influence the final carbon footprint of the item.

As an example, the jumper you are wearing today might be made of wool, from a western china skillet sheep, which was transported in a container to Lebanon to manufacture the thread, packed and sent to south-east India afterwards to dye it in that beautiful pastel-blue, packed again and travelled to Vietnam to knit your jumper. The jumper was finally packed one more time and sent to eastern china logistic centre, where it was distributed to your country and finally to the shop where you purchased it from. At this point we have only trace the main material of your jumper, however, we did not go deep in detail of where was the packaging manufactured, and how much did it travel, or even the tags, tickets and other informative labels that comes with your jumper. We did not cover the traceability of the bag that the shop put your jumper in to take it back home or even if they wrapped up in that chic wrapping paper.

Whenever you feel ready to make changes in your clothing and your accessories to reduce your carbon footprint to make positive environmental impacts, start checking were was it manufactured. The closest home, the more chances you get to have a relatively reduced carbon footprint. You can also check the labels to understand the materials in which the product was manufactured. Fabrics made of recycled cotton, polyester, nylon, or similar will probably have a reduced environmental impact. Organic fabrics will also ensure that less chemicals were used in the process, and natural fabrics over synthetic ones might indicate less energy consumed in the manufacturing process. In the end, you might have to assess each item by its own rights. Good news for sustainable consumers, carbon footprint labels, digital passports and traceability tags are coming in as leading brands are disclosing their environmental efforts loud and proud on each item. However, you will still need to educate yourself on what is the average CO2equ for a specific item you wish to purchase.

Other simple actions you can make to reduce your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact is to reduce the amount of paper and plastic bags you collect in your shopping spring just by refusing a new bag if you still have got space in one of the other bags you already carry, or even by using your own cloth shopping bags.

You can also chose to buy your clothes in a second hand shop or even going the root of hiring your style on a weekly basis in a rental boutique if your work environment requires you to have an extensive closet or you are just a person who gets bored of your wardrobe easily.

Finally, if you are doing online shopping, make sure that the online business is taking measurable steps towards offsetting the shipping of your online purchase.


You might be thinking now that you already know how to reduce your carbon emissions to make positive environmental impacts from the consumption of your electronics, right? Easy, turning off my devices when they are not in use and ensuring that the stand-by pilot is also switch off. Choosing eco-programs in your dishwasher and your washing machine and only use your drying machine to take the worse of your wet clothes. Not leaving the door of the fridge open long time. Let’s face it! You won’t get inspired looking at the back of your fridge. You won’t be less bored and neither you will find the source of your happiness. We know what we are talking about, believe us.

All those sort of things are good, and we are not trying to discourage you to stop doing them. Please continue; since every small action helps, no matter how small it is. If the majority of us do it, it would really ease the electrical grid system.

However, reducing your carbon emissions from your electronic devices and appliances start at the shop when you are about to purchase a product. Considering that certain devices like phones and laptops, as small as they are, the impact on the environment is enormous due to the complex circuits, silicon chips and batteries they are made of metals scare in Earth and huge amounts of energy in the manufacturing process. The same goes for the more and more high-tech appliances or image and sound electronics that have also incorporated smart components increasing their embodied carbons. However, most of these devices will have also incorporated a fair amount of virgin plastic in their components worth looking at as well.

As an example, a smart phone accounts for a 85-95% of its annual carbon footprint during operation. A person will change smart phones every 2-4 year, making the embodied carbons 1/3 to 1/5 of its life cycle.

Simple actions towards reducing your carbon footprint on appliances and other electronics are:

  • Buy high efficient products. Look for the energy star label or similar
  • Find out about the after-sale customer service and whether they have a reliable and solid repair and maintenance service in your country of residence.
  • Find out if a trade-in program exist that would ensure your discarded item is recycled
  • Do your research before buying; longevity of the product, quality, defects and failures
  • Once you have purchase it, do not misuse it to ensure its longevity and extend its life as much as possible.

Talking about smart phones, tablets and laptops again, ask yourself, do I really need to change my device for a newer model or is it still working, is it still functional, does it do the job?

Most of the times we just get enchanted by the blinky and shiny new product, and entangled in the “need to have the latest model” fever, it is a matter of being IN or OUT in the society, but the choice is ultimately with us.


Urban mobility, in the other hand, widely depends on the country where you live and the transport infrastructure there is in place to favour sustainable urban mobility. However, talking about fuel powered engine methods of transportation that allow to share the ride are more sustainable than personal transportation. Public transportation will be preferred in this scenarios, such as buses instead of personal cars. Using the metro or the tram will also help you reduce your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact in your daily mobility. More cities around the world are transforming their entire mobility infrastructure to allow citizens to travel from A to B in many different sustainable ways amen restricting fuel engined cars in the town centre in an attempt to clean their air and minimise their air pollution dome.

If you live outside the city, you could also bike to your nearest train station instead of driving into the city. Otherwise, other choices are coming up in the market such as electric motorbikes and electric cars. Just check out how are they recharged to not to incur in more indirect carbon footprint from a traditional thermoelectric power plant fuelled by hydrocarbons.


Ultimately, the best way to reduce your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact over a period of time and maintain it is to educate yourself. Making informative decisions will not only allow you to take steps towards the sustainable path but your steps will also be efficient and smart. Nobody wants to waste time, effort and will power in actions that do not help, they are frustrating or do help very little in achieving your ultimate goal.

Did you find this post useful? What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint to make a positive environmental impact? Leave us your comments below! we would love to hear from you and your actions to make this a better planet!