Our Carbon Footprint & the 5 Precepts

Our Carbon Footprint & the 5 Precepts

By Sarvajit (Order Member of the Triratna Cambridge Sangha)

We all need to take responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint, ie the amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere as a result of our actions.

To reduce our CO2 amount, by changing our behaviour, aims to keep our planet below the 1.5C temperature increase said to be the ‘tipping point’ of global warming.

Each of us needs to aim towards producing no more than 2.5 tons of CO2 each year, at the moment the average person produces 12 tons!

The average person’s production of 12 tons of CO2 each year is made up of……..


Food & Drink 2.9 tons 24.2%

Consumers 3 tons 25%

Travel 1.9 tons 15.8%

Government Infrastructure 1.7 tons 14.2%

Energy 2.5 tons 20.8%


We can consider 5 areas and link these to the 5 precepts………

 1. With deeds of loving kindness, I purify my body.

Food & Drink 

If we have a plant based vegan diet this will have a massive impact in reducing CO2

No deforestation in the Amazon Basin

No animal suffering

Eat local, seasonal foods - so no air miles

Consider Fair Trade and wellbeing of workers


2. With open handed generosity, I purify my body (not taking the not given)


A Capitalist Society with advertising etc, which drives and exploits our sense of unsatisfactoriness Dukkha, the sense of ‘not being complete’

Driven by greed?

Drives the establishment of status, eg ‘must have the best, must have new, must replace’

Keeps us separate from others

A delusion that ‘stuff’ brings serenity, or we buy from a sense of discontentment with what we have…

We can move to an appreciation of what we’ve got, and away from a feeling that we have to ‘do without’


3. With stillness, simplicity & contentment, I purify my body


Each time we take the car - ask: can we walk?

Do we need to fly?

Is the train/bus a better option?


4. With skilful communication, I purify my speech

Government Infrastructure 

It is the job of the government to protect us, and take the overview of what’s in our best interest

What can we do?

Lobby local and national politicians

Make demands through collective action as a Sangha

Be with other groups, eg Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil

Be joyful and supportive together!


5. With mindfulness clear & radiant, I purify my mind


Can you change your energy provider?

Could you get solar panels?

How can you use less energy?

Change your bank - all big banks invest your money in fossil fuels


It’s all a work in progress – buy and consult Ethical Consumer magazine for information and evidence…….. 



Questions to ask yourself……..

What changes can you make in your life?

How does it all relate to a Buddhist lifestyle?

Our Carbon Footprint & the 5 Precepts