As you may know, I am obsessed about trying to reduce my family’s carbon footprint. One of our 2019 resolution was to reduce our waste by 30%.
I recently re-did a carbon footprint simulation for my home. I used WWF carbon footprint calculator. It is easy to use and provides nice visual simulation. I am not sure it is the most accurate out there so I also cross-referenced with a few other more sophisticated ones (like this one) and the dirty number was consistent.
15 tonnes. That is my individual carbon footprint for the past 12 months. The majority of it comes from air transport – both our holidays and work trips. My London to Washington return alone accounted for 4 tonnes of carbon production !
Hard to cut on work trips… But it gave me renewed interest in exploring and trying out other ways to reduce even more my carbon production. Here comes my 10 new tried and tested tips to reduce pollution coming from our lives (without too much hassle) :
- Make it a rule to only buy fruit and veg that come without packaging. This is easy if you buy at a greengrocer (which I have started doing every saturday). If you shop at supermarkets, it is also mostly feasible. If you order online with Ocado or an equivalent, it is downright impossible. So unless we absolutely cannot go to the shops, we don’t order produce on Ocado anymore and walk or cycle to the nearby greengrocer instead.
- Limit purchases of food that comes from outside the UK : This is easily done by shopping locally and eating whatever is in season. Country of origination needs to be stated on all food items, including fruit and veg. In this season, apples and pears grown in the UK are easy to find (in the summer, they more often come from New Zealand). I might sometimes buy an item that comes from the EU. Apart from that, all other items are a no-no. It does mean sacrifices : no avocados, no exotic fruit, no blueberries in november. Only exception I still make : bananas. I have read that they are not too bad as they are transported by boats, very nutritious, and you can easily buy them without plastic.
- Stop buying clothes : I haven’t bought a single item of clothing in 10 months and I am still alive…
- Make buying second-hand or mending your go-to options : honestly, most items are available and sometimes it is not only cheaper but also more convenient. Case in point : our washing machine broke on tuesday. Not repairable for less than £200. Curry’s would have taken 5 days and cost >£350 to get a new one delivered. 15 min on Gumtree, 3 SMS to a washing machine seller, 2 to a Man with a van and on saturday, we have a second-hand machine in working order and our old machine is sent for recycling. Cost = £50 for the machine + £50 for the man with a van = £100. We saved money but also time and did not have to make more effort. We also had several coats and trousers repaired recently.
- Reduce online orders : the biggest thing we did to reduce our waste was to drastically reduce Amazon orders.
- Use your car less or switch to an electric car : we simply got rid of ours and walk/cycle to most places, with the occasional taxi ride and car rental. I realize it is not always possible for everyone. The first thing you can do is know how much C02 your car produces per mile. For an average car in the UK, it is about 190g/mile. If you own an SUV it is more. If you own a small car, it is less. It should be easy to find out what the carbon emission for your own car as this is now strictly scrutinized and regulated. As a rule of thumb, 190g is the equivalent of the carbon footprint of 2.3 bananas. An electric car would produce zero, so you can check if this could be a good option for you. If you have a garage or a drive and your commute is <100 miles per day, you would very likely save a lot of money and a lot of carbon. Don’t discard that option as electric cars have become more effective and attractive in the past 12 months.
None of this have been drastic changes to our lifestyle but they have now brought our non-air travel carbon footprint below average. You can do it too !