Your carbon footprint
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation etc. The carbon footprint is a measurement of all greenhouse gases we individually produce and has units of tonnes (or kg) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent.
The importance of low carbon food growing
Growing food has a major link with the environment – we are dependent on the planet for our own survival. Food production involves using land, energy and water resources.
Part of the aim of this course is helping Manchester work towards its targets for lowering its carbon emissions by 40% by 2020.
What is low carbon food growing?
According to Climate Friendly Food (www.climatefriendlyfood.org.uk), following these principles will help to a lower carbon output:
- Use rich soil techniques
- Grow perennial food crops
- Reduce nitrous oxide emissions
- Avoid artificial nitrogen
- Avoid peat
- Keep wild areas to encourage wildlife
- Use manual labour rather than machines
- Conserve water
- Think carefully about using new materials *
- Reduse, reuse and recycle
- Think about what you do after harvesting – eg minimise refrigeration
*When needing new materials, ask yourself the following questions:
Are they from the local economy? and Are they from organic systems?
The following are high CO2 emitters: Fossil fuels, agrochemicals, plastic, steel, glass and concrete/quarried products.
Climate Friendly Food can carry out a carbon audit of your project and have a free carbon calculator checklist on their website.
Other useful websites
Energy Saving Trust – www.energysavingtrust.org.uk – information on saving water in gardening, generating your own energy, composting and food waste.
WRAP – www.wrap.org.uk – lots of helpful information about composting.
The Carbon Trust – www.carbontrust.co.uk – a not-for-profit company who provide specialist support to help organisation cut carbon emissions and save energy.
Friends of the Earth – www.foe.co.uk/ – campaigning for a healthy planet for everyone. Information on climate change and local projects.