Shrink your Carbon Footprint

Are you worried about climate change but not sure what you can do? You’re not alone. According to YouGov, in February 2021 26% of Brits rank the environment as the most important issue facing the country, trailing only health, the economy and Brexit. All four of these topics have brought frequent bad news, particularly over the last year. With so many different concerns it can be hard to remain optimistic, and with the overwhelming nature of these problems it can be difficult to know where and how to start to deal with them.

This is where we at Cambridge Carbon Footprint can help. We have developed a package of resources that can help you get started taking action on climate change by:

  1. Helping you understand where you are currently having the biggest impact on the environment – via the Carbon Footprint Calculator;
  2. Suggesting which actions to take to reduce those emissions, and encouraging you to pledge publicly to reduce them – via the Cambridge Climate Change Charter;
  3. Helping you to succeed in your pledges with information and resources to help support change – via the Advice Hub.

The Charter and Carbon Footprint Calculator are designed to help you to take control of the emissions in your lifestyle without having to overhaul your way of living. While climate change needs systemic changes on a global and national scale, it is also vital that this takes place alongside individuals taking action when and where we can.

So, if you’ve been thinking of doing something to reduce your personal emissions but have felt overwhelmed, confused and unsure where to start, this activity is for you. For Earth Optimism, we are asking you to take a few small steps to calculate your carbon footprint. By filling out the calculator, you will be able to better understand where you are contributing most to climate change and where you can make the most effective changes in your life.

Find out more about carbon footprints, shrinking your carbon emissions and living more sustainably. By the end of this video you should feel ready to calculate your own carbon footprint and start taking practical steps to a more sustainable lifestyle.

This online talk was delivered by Alana Sinclair of Cambridge Carbon Footprint on 3rd March 2021, as part of the South Cambridgeshire District Council Climate and Environment Fortnight.

Step one: Follow the link to the Cambridge Carbon Footprint Calculator

Calculate your footprint here

Step two: Fill out the calculator


  • The calculator is a tool to help get you started. While the calculator asks you for a lot of specifics of your spending habits, don’t worry if you don’t know the exact amounts. While the more precise your answer, the more accurate the size of your footprint, a guesstimate will still help you get an idea of the sorts of actions that would be suitable for your lifestyle.
  • Equally, it’s up to you whether you want to calculate last year’s footprint by using last year’s bills or if you want to take an estimated average for the last few years. There’s also no harm in completing it multiple times if necessary.

Step three: Analyse your results

Once you have completed the calculator you will receive your results in the form of an animal’s weight. The larger the animal, the larger the footprint. From largest to smallest:

  • Elephant
  • Rhino
  • Giraffe
  • Dolphin
  • Chimp

An animal will also represent the impact of your lifestyle on four categories:

  • Home energy
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Shopping

Have a look at the results and think about the following questions:

  1. Which of the four categories is the highest for you? Why do you think this is?
  2. Which of the four categories is the lowest for you? Why do you think this is?
  3. Are you surprised by any of your results? Were they better/worse than you thought?
  4. Were there any questions in the calculator that were unexpected?

Step four: Pledge to measure and reduce your emissions

Now that you have calculated your footprint, it’s time to make a pledge by signing the Cambridge Carbon Footprint Charter.

By clicking the yellow button at the bottom of the footprint results you will head straight from the calculator to The Charter. By doing this, any simple changes you could make to your footprint will be automatically populated (see image where ‘Heat my house to a lower temperature and only when I need it’ is already ticked). However, even if you have no pre-populated ticks, have a look through the options by clicking the downward arrow to the right of each category and tick the actions you want to add to your pledge.


  • Take it easy and don’t over promise yourself – you’ll have more success if you choose a small number of simple options to start with. You can always come back once you have done these and are ready to choose something more challenging.

Step five: Pledge to demonstrate climate leadership

Once you have chosen your emissions pledge, it’s time to demonstrate climate leadership.

Demonstrating climate leadership is an important part of tackling the climate emergency. Only if we take action together and speak openly about the challenges ahead and the ways we want to approach them, will we be successful. Click on the ‘Demonstrate Climate Leadership’ button next to ‘Measure and reduce my emissions’, have a look through the options and choose one or two actions you feel able to pledge to take.

Once you are finished with pledges in steps four and five, click ‘Pledge to take action’.


  • As with step four, only choose one or two achievable options that you feel you can do rather than risking overwhelming yourself with too many actions. Again, you can always work your way up to something more challenging later.

Step six: Check out the Advice Hub

Well done! You have now signed The Charter and taken your first steps to reducing your carbon footprint.

It’s now up to you to carry out your pledged actions but don’t worry, you are not alone. The Cambridge Climate Change Charter would like to support and empower you to speak about climate change with your family, friends and colleagues, so we have provided you with the tools to do so on our website. We also have advice for businesses and other organisations demonstrating climate leadership. Head over to the Advice Hub where you can find more information.

Net Zero Now is a new training programme commencing in the summer to support individuals and community groups to deliver carbon reduction activities in South Cambridgeshire. It is run by Cambridge Carbon Footprint with support from South Cambridgeshire District Council.  You can find out more about the project and register your interest here.

Cambridge Carbon Footprint

Cambridge Carbon Footprint helps turn concern about climate change into action, supporting people to make real carbon reductions in their personal lives and empowering them to take the lead on carbon reduction in their social circles, communities and places of work.

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