Want to curb your carbon footprint? The brains behind Marie Claire's first carbon-neutral event shares her top tips

How to reduce carbon footprint

Last week, we hosted our inaugural Marie Claire Sustainability Awards. Spotlighting over 60 of the world's most sustainable innovators, change-makers and tastemakers across the fashion, beauty, food & drink, travel & leisure, motors, health & wellness and homes industries, not only did this mark MC's first ever awards dedicated to sustainability, it was also our first carbon-neutral event.

Yep, despite already keeping our environmental impact to a minimum by hosting a virtual ceremony, we went a step further and offset our inevitable carbon emissions in association with Nula Carbon. Here's how we pulled off our first carbon-neutral event – plus some expert tips on sustainable living and curbing your own carbon footprint, too.

MC Sustainability Awards: how we offset our carbon emissions

Never ones to sidestep practicing what we preach, we partnered with Nula Carbon to offset the emissions from our first ever Sustainability Awards. How, you ask? Well, by analysing our carbon footprint before setting about putting it right.

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"Virtual awards are a great way forward, and they already reduce your emissions by a huge amount. One of the key areas that emissions come from with events is transport – whether that's transport of goods or transport of people," explains Nula Carbon founder Charlotte Horler. "Because you're eliminating people commuting to an event in London, you probably reduce your emissions by about three times, which is amazing."

Nula Carbon believe that carbon offsetting goes much further than just planting trees. (Although they do plenty of that, too.) Taking a holistic approach to carbon offsetting, Nula's Carbon Credits – which can be bought by businesses and individuals alike – help the communities on the ground who are protecting our forests. "When you buy carbon credits, you're essentially helping to keep carbon where it's meant to be, which is in the trees and in the soil, while also supporting land owners and communities," says Charlotte.

how to reduce carbon footprint – Charlotte Horler

Nula Carbon founder Charlotte Horler

When it came to calculating, and subsequently offsetting, the carbon cost of the Marie Claire Sustainability Awards, Nula Carbon meticulously factored in everything from the distribution of our zero carbon bamboo awards, to the heat and power used in the homes of our virtual attendees during the ceremony. Talk about no stone left unturned.

In total, Nula estimates that before offsetting, the emissions of the MC Sustainability Awards were just over 347kgCO2e. (That's roughly the equivalent of driving from London to John O'Groats and back in a car.) By offsetting these emissions, Nula will protect 0.1 acres of dryland forest in the Kasigau project in Kenya on our behalf. Pretty neat, right?

5 key ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Carbon footprint isn't just another sustainability buzzword or ill-defined greenwashing term. Simply meaning how many greenhouse gases you have added to the atmosphere, it really matters – both on an individual level, and a collective one. Here, Charlotte breaks down what we as individuals can do to start somewhere, reduce our carbon footprint, and effect lasting change on the planet as a result.

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1. Switch your energy provider

Let's start simple. A staggering 40% of UK emissions come from households – so it's hardly surprising that switching energy providers is one of the best ways to greatly reduce our carbon footprint. "That's a really easy win for you to choose," says Charlotte.

2. Make your money matter

"Switching your bank account is one of the best things you can do," says Charlotte. "Because [lots of] banks still invest in fossil fuels, arms, cigarettes – all of these things that have a damaging effect on people and the environment." But, she insists, you shouldn't just stop with your current account.

According to Make My Money Matter, by selecting a greener pension provider, you could actually cut your carbon 21 times more than going veggie, giving up flying and switching energy providers. Those are some pretty hard stats to ignore.

3. Change up your diet

"I don't like to say don't do this or don't do that – I don't think that's very productive or helpful," says Charlotte. "But what I would say, if you do have the means or capability and you want to eat meat, be conscious of where you're buying it from. Particularly because we're so passionate about forest protection, a lot of the feed for certain meat comes from the Amazon. If you can find meat that's been farmed really well, but you're not ready to give up meat, that's a step in the right direction."

4. Take public transport

Even if you're lucky enough to own one of the best electric cars, try leaving it at home in favour of public transport once in a while. Additionally, says Charlotte, "If you can limit some of the short haul flights you might take – to Edinburgh, or to France, for example – that's also really great. Because yes, your long haul flight is going to have far higher emissions, but a huge concentration of emissions come from just take off and landing. So the more we can limit those shorter flights, the better."

5. Be an active citizen

"We really want everyone to be advocates for the climate," says Charlotte. "You don't have to be shouting and screaming about it, but if you can, sign a petition, be a part of a citizen's assembly, share and promote a brand that is rewilding your local community park – things like that really do go a long way. Take a small step, and remember that it counts. Adding your voice to the noise is so important." Here, here.

Ready to reduce your carbon footprint? For more information on Nula Carbon, head to their website or follow @nula.carbon.

Kate McCusker

Kate McCusker is a freelance writer at Marie Claire UK, having joined the team in 2019. She studied fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins, and her byline has also appeared in Dezeen, British Vogue, The Times and woman&home. In no particular order, her big loves are: design, good fiction, bad reality shows and the risible interiors of celebrity houses.