I had been thinking for some time about how to get more people emulating what I have achieved with my own carbon-negative home and low-carbon lifestyle. Although the climate crisis and ecological destruction are the obvious concerns underpinning my actions, I was trying to pinpoint what maintained my commitment to reducing my environmental footprints?
Then I realised one of the chief drivers maintaining my momentum was that as I wrote about my annual footprints, I was publicly accountable for them. It had also engendered a personal competition with myself, as to whether my carbon and environmental footprints were lower than the previous year's. So how I could convince everybody else in the country to do likewise and came up with the idea of an annual National Carbon Footprint Day, when everybody could record their environmental readings and see how much progress they had made. To make this easy for people, I am launching the National Carbon Footprint Day website, where people will be able to pledge to measure their annual carbon footprint and can record their five key environmental readings. These are their electricity, gas (or coal/oil), mileage, water and flights.
They will then receive an email reminder every National Carbon Footprint Day which will contain their previous year's readings and a reminder to take their new readings. They can then use a carbon footprint calculator to calculate how much CO2 their direct energy consumption was responsible for.
To my delight I found that 2 October is Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, a good date for the world's first annual National Carbon Footprint Day. Gandhi's maxim urging us to be the change we want to see in the world, underpins of my message. One major reason why we have not successfully halted the climate crisis is that not enough of the messengers, journalists, politicians or environmentalists have lived our message. If someone is publicly calling for urgent action to reduce our emissions but they have a large family, numerous long-haul flight holidays or drive a larger car than they need, their audiences will pick this up and think it can't be all that urgent.
So this new National Carbon Footprint Day is a wake-up call for all of us to start putting our climate crisis houses in order. I am delighted that comedian Marcus Brigstocke and prominent environmental politician Jenny Jones, former Deputy Mayor of London have agreed to be the patrons. So please log on to www.nationalcarbonfoot printday.org today and make your carbon footprint pledge. Who knows, maybe next year it will have become the world's first International Carbon Footprint Day. We CAN do something!
Donnachadh McCarthy runs an eco-auditing consultancy and is author of "Easy Eco-auditing" (www.3acorns.co.uk)