Cutting the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere to support the fight against climate change has become one of the biggest issues of the day, with companies’ efforts to achieve net zero increasingly scrutinised.

Amazon committed to making half its shipments carbon neutral by 2030, while the BBC is reducing business travel by 40% by the same year. Closer to home, NatWest Group has committed to Net Zero across our organisation by 2050, covering the impact of our lending, investment products and our own operations. We’ve set short-term goals for 2030 to help achieve this, including halving the climate impact of our own operations and lending (compared to a 2019 baseline).

But what could each of us do in our everyday lives to reduce our own carbon footprint? Here are five things to consider when it comes to spending your hard-earned cash…

1. Travel – take the train when possible

Aviation makes up 7.8% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Aviation Environment Federation (1). So it’s worth considering taking the train when making more domestic trips. UK government research has found that a train journey releases 77% less carbon than a short-haul plane journey (2).

2. Clothing – consider carbon conscious brands

Globally, around 85% of cloths and fabrics go to landfill each year – every second, the equivalent of a bin lorry of clothes is burned or dumped in the ground, according to the World Economic Forum (3). You could look to buy from brands that publicly commit to reducing their carbon footprint. See if they’re a B-Corp – companies that focus on their purpose as well as their profits – or have the Positive Luxury Butterfly mark. You could also check their website to see if they recycle materials.

3. Food – get to the meat of it

Research commissioned by the government in 2019 found that food production and consumption represented about 13% of Britain’s total greenhouse gas emissions (4). One thing we could all do to help address this is simply eat less meat. Doing so would take pressure off the environment because livestock emit harmful methane and their manure causes emissions, according to the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (5). Consider composting what you don’t eat too. The UK government found that composting our food waste instead of sending it to landfill emits 70 times less greenhouse gas (6). 

4. Cars – go electric

As at 2019, passenger cars represented about 14% of UK greenhouse gas emissions (1). So if you don’t already have one, it could be worth thinking about getting an electric vehicle (EV). Consider the timing tough, because although they have a much smaller carbon footprint, the construction of EVs in itself produces carbon. So you may want to drive your current petrol or diesel car to the end of its functional life before making the switch.

5. Be energy-efficient at home

There are various ways to reduce the amount of carbon coming from your home, which in turn could help make your house more energy efficient. For example, the Energy Saving Trust says a typical solar panel system could save around one tonne of carbon a year, depending on where you live in the UK (7). You don’t typically need planning permission to install such a system either, you just need to register it with your Distribution Network Operator, which your installer would normally do.


  1. UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. 2019 UK greenhouse gas emissions: final figures - data tables (Excel), Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics: 1990 to 2019.
  2. UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Conversion factors 2022: condensed set (for most users), Greenhouse gas reporting: conversion factors 2022
  3. World Economic Forum (2020). These facts show how unsustainable the fashion industry is.
  4. UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. UK full dataset 1990 - 2019, including conversion factors by SIC code, UK and England's carbon footprint to 2019
  5. UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (2020) All consuming: Building a healthier food system for people and planet
  6. UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. UK full dataset 1990 - 2019, including conversion factors by SIC code, UK and England's carbon footprint to 2019
  7. Energy Saving Trust (2022) Solar Panels

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of the NatWest Group Economics Department, as of this date and are subject to change without notice.

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