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How Much Do Everyday Tasks Impact Our Carbon Footprint?

Shutterstock Photo License - By petrmalinak
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Climate change is a big deal. And it’s one that consumers around the world are more conscious of than ever. If you’ve got an environmental mindset, then you might find yourself often pondering how much good that you, as an individual, can do. You may have found that we aren’t doing enough after seeing problems that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it’s true that governments and international NGOs can have a far greater impact than individuals, it’s still worth thinking about what effect your actions can have. From installing a smart meter, to reducing your meat intake, every little thing soon adds up, so its good to be in the know.

According to polling by OVO energy, around 87% of the British public know what climate change is, and around 80% understand what a carbon footprint entails. From this, we can also assume that people understand the significance of this also. 

However, now we know this, the important question is: does this knowledge have an impact on behavior, and which changes in behavior are the most consequential?

Driving to Work

Your daily commute makes up a sizeable chunk of your emissions. While older cars tend to produce more CO2 than newer ones, and much less than their electric equivalents, the average sits at around 123kg of CO2/km, according to EU estimates.

The poll also found that train travel wasn’t much better, with a train journey from London to Glasgow for example creating a huge 46kg of carbon emissions. This helps people realize that they need to avoid making major eco-tourism mistakes.

Anything you can do to avoid this, therefore, is worthwhile. If you can walk to work for example, then this would help you to significantly help to improve this figure. Not only is it going to diminish your carbon footprint; it’ll also do wonders for your health. It’s easier on your joints than jogging, and it burns body fat nicely.

For many, this isn’t an option. But there are alternatives: invest in a bicycle, start a carpooling system, or ask whether you can work from home.

Bathing and Showering

The average ten-minute shower, according to Mike Berners Lee’s book, releases around 500g of carbon into the atmosphere. Of course, this depends on a number of factors. How warm are your showers? How efficient is your boiler? How long are you actually spending in there? If you run a generous, relaxing bath, then this figure rises to a whopping 1kg, as Ovo Energy’s research found.

Of course, the best strategy here is to take cold showers. Once you’ve gone through that ordeal, you’ll be ready to face the day. Plus, for some reason ice-cold showers rarely last as long as ten minutes (or even one).

Meat

There’s comprehensive evidence indicating that meat products are, calorie for calorie, more damaging to the environment than plant-based ones. Not only is there the carbon cost of raising, feeding and slaughtering the animals, there’s also the opportunity cost. Land that’s filled with cattle, or the grain used to feed cattle, is land that can’t be forested. Our World in Data estimate that beef produces a whopping 60kg of CO2 per 1kg consumed.

Interestingly, the location of your food doesn’t matter very much. “Eating local beef or lamb has many times the carbon footprint of most other foods. Whether they are grown locally or shipped from the other side of the world matters very little for total emissions.” So, you can stop worrying about that.

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