I recently got off the plane from an epic long haul return flight to England. I had the most amazing time in New Zealand but………..
The carbon I released taking this one 24 hour flight is about 10 times what the average Ugandan releases in an entire year. I’m already feeling the guilt set in. Yep, there it is.
I like to do some amateur research from time to time, to see what we can do make the biggest dent in my carbon emissions. Although there are a million other articles talking about this that are better written I thought I’d write my own. Go figure. This graphic illustrates it pretty well. But if you like words keep reading.
The best things we can do
1) Stop driving a car. Or use it less. Or lime scooter everywhere… This is the MASSIVE one. How do you transport yourself everyday? Could you change that, even if it’s hard? Besides the awkward having less children thing (see below), reducing car usage has the biggest impact on your emissions. Nothing else comes close.
My friend who used to drive everywhere, recently sold their car and gave the money to charity. Amazing true story. They now bike most of the time. I bet you can’t be as awesome as them. (Guilting people into positive change like this doesn’t work, for the record)
2) Eat less animal products. I really struggle with this, because meat and dairy are soooooooo tasty, but we’ve got to get serious right? In New Zealand dairy might be as bad as meat, but I couldn’t find numbers on it. Veganism is the best option and has a huge positive impact. And think of the health benefits too…
3) Fly less. See my hypocrisy above. We may well have not seriously considered flying less, but it’s a real problem. We don’t usually put carbon emissions on a list of pros and cons before going on holiday or to a conference, but maybe we should.
You may wonder why I haven’t listed the biggest impact action from the graph. Unfotunately I’ve still got some intellectual/ethical qualms about it. Having one fewer child than you planned to have, smashes all other lifestyle changes out of the water. It’s over 25 times more effective than never driving a car ever again. If you’re up for it, have a think…
Less useful (but still do them, if you can like, be bothered)
1) Turn off lightbulbs. Obviously we should turn off lightbulbs, but obsessing over this is a waste of time and energy. Replacing all your light bulbs with LEDs will help more than obsessing about every minute they are on.
2) Recycle. Not that effective on the climate change front I’m afraid. As you can see on the graph, hang drying rather than machine drying your clothes has the same impact as recycling everything. Surprising!
3) Have cold showers. Ok, that’s mostly a joke. Great in Uganda, less great in New Zealand. My crazy father has done this every day for the last year. I tried once and nearly died. New Zealand mostly produces power from renewable sources, but 20% of it is still fossil fuels, so it’s not all rosy.
There we have it. The most useful and useless ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Back yourself this year, and make a change!
Welcome back to UK. Neat article. Personally have a go at most of what you have mentioned but am challenged by how my small efforts are outweighed by others, particularly the young who will be more affected than we geriatrics. I will still use the bike!
Nice one Pete!
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