Never before in the history of mankind has so much focus been placed on the environment. From reducing the amount of meat we eat to adopting greener modes of transport, scientists are putting forward a multitude of ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.
Some of them are things we have all heard before – living without a car, recycling as much as possible and hang-drying clothes instead of using a tumble dryer.
But how realistic are these aims, and how much of an impact can they really make?
A report from the Environmental Research Letters has concluded that having fewer children is by far the most effective way of cutting your carbon footprint.
Reducing the number of children you have by just one can save around 58.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalents each year.
Living car free comes second on their list – cutting a paltry 2.4 tonnes.
In third place is avoiding a round-trip trans-Atlantic plane flight, which weighs in at 1.6 tonnes.
As comprehensive and persuasive as those figures may be though, it is a tall order asking people to not have children, live without a car or not fly for long-distance holidays.
Focus needs to shift towards realistic, achievable and sustainable methods of reducing carbon emissions.
In this global era, it is a dilemma which businesses world-wide are pondering – delivering clients what they want as quickly as possible but with as small a carbon foot print as they can manage.
The shipping industry, for example, is under particular pressure to be more environmentally friendly.
Potential options include the likes of improving hull and propeller design, increased use of renewable energy sources such as wind, enhanced energy storage and even simply travelling more slowly.
Another industry closely linked to this is the international removals business.
Firms such as AGS Worldwide Movers offer customers the choice of how to move their belongings.
Transportation by boat pollutes the least when done as part of a groupage shipping, which involves the sharing of shipping containers amongst a number of clients.
This improves the energy efficiency of the move while reducing the cost, although it can take longer than other methods.
Even if their clients’ goods are transported over land, they can be assured that the company is replacing all of their trucks with those compliant with Euro 6 emissions standards.
They have also teamed up with NGO Planète Urgence. For every international removal they complete, they plant a tree in a tangible attempt to reduce greenhouse gasses and protect biodiversity.
More than 244,000 trees will have been planted by the company by the end of the year, while they are also involved in restoration and reforestation projects in both Indonesia and Madagascar.
Even their warehouses are now being designed with environmental protection in mind. Their latest London facility boasts photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps to ensure lower carbon emissions.
Of course, these issues then need to be weighed up against cost, development, environmental benefits and customer impact.
There is little point ploughing vast quantities of resources into something which either fails to deliver the environmental impact hoped for, or is so inefficient that companies are not inclined to adopt it.
Nevertheless, evidence continues to suggest that something needs to be done sooner rather than later.
Improving efficiency without compromising performance will be key, so any or all of the methods above could well have a significant role to play in the future.