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Cutting carbon

Your carbon impact on lockdown

Life on lockdown has caused carbon emissions to fall around the world. But with lots of us spending more time at home our personal carbon footprints have been changing too.

The size of your carbon footprint is mostly down to lifestyle choices, like how often you travel or the food you eat. Many of our lifestyles have changed in the last few weeks. Maybe you used to drive two hours a day, or you normally spend lots of money on shoes (remember them?). The energy you use at home makes up 25% of your personal carbon footprint. So in this post, we look at how lockdown life might be changing the carbon impact of the energy you use, and share a few tips to help you make greener choices.

Streaming that film might not be as bad as you've heard 

Many of us are streaming more telly, films and music online than usual, which uses power and produces carbon emissions. But, according to a recent report by Carbon Brief, it might not be as bad as you think. The carbon impact of watching a 30 minute show on Netflix is the same as driving 200 metres in a conventional car, not 4 miles as previously thought.

Streaming has a relatively small carbon impact. But there are a few simple ways to green up your online habits. You can use Greenpeace's #ClickClean to find out if the apps or platforms you use are powered by green or non-green energy. 

Watching telly on a phone or laptop is more energy-efficient than watching on a big TV. With music, if you think you’ll listen to the same song or album more than once, download it to your device so you don’t need to stream it multiple times.

Use Greenpeace's #ClickClean to find out if the apps or platforms you use are powered by green energy

Making the most of warmer weather and lighter evenings 

Spring is bringing warmer, lighter days. We might not be able to get outside much to enjoy them, but we can let Mother Nature inside to help lower our carbon impact. 

Swapping the tumble dryer in favour of air-drying your clothes can shrink your carbon footprint by up to 60 kg CO2 every year. Plus, switching off bulbs and letting natural light in can save another 30 kg CO2 each year. Added together, that’s the same emissions 45 trees would absorb in a year. Having a candlelight dinner isn’t just romantic – it reduces electricity demand on the grid at peak times, when carbon intensity is highest, too.

Unplugging your devices really does make a difference

Electronic devices draw electricity from the socket even when they’re turned off, or on standby. It’s affectionately called ‘vampire power’. And, until 100% of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources, what uses electricity also produces carbon emissions.

Unplugging all the devices in your home, or turning them off standby at night, can save up to 60kg of CO2 emissions each year. That’s the same as the emissions 30 trees would absorb in a year. We like to see it as a nice way to stretch your lockdown legs before bed.

Unplugging your devices can save up to 60kg of CO2 each year

Carbon-conscious cooking (and takeaways)

For those of us on lockdown, we’re probably eating every meal of the day, every day of the week at home. (Blimey, what a mouthful). Maybe you’re cooking more, or maybe you’re having Friday-night pizza takeaways every night. Neither is necessarily better for the planet – there are too many factors at play, like whether the restaurant is powered by renewables, or how you travelled to buy your ingredients. But there are a few ways to make both options a bit greener. 

If you’re in the mood to dust off that recipe book, here are 5 simple ways to lower the carbon impact of cooking your meal:

  1. Choose local ingredients where you can. This reduces emissions created from transporting them to you.

  2. Experiment with more vegetarian recipes. Swapping red meat for veggies can reduce your footprint by up to 10%

  3. Only use the amount of water you need to cook. Anything else is wasted, and requires more energy to boil.

  4. Use lids when cooking, which traps heat to shorten cooking time, using less energy.

  5. Let your food cool down before putting it in the fridge. Your fridge won’t have to work so hard, using less energy and causing fewer emissions.

If you’re ordering in, try to use an app that offers bicycle delivery to eliminate transport emissions. Or if that’s not possible, choose a restaurant that’s closer to your home. Ask for ‘no cutlery’ with your meal if you can, to reduce plastic waste.

These small changes can lower your footprint 

There’s lots going on at the moment, and there’s only so many global crises we can think about at once. But these small, simple changes could shrink your carbon footprint by more than 10% and save you money on your bills, too. We’ll be sharing our thoughts on how the current situation might affect the carbon impact of other parts of your lifestyle on the blog soon. In the meantime, read more simple tips on how to save energy at home.

What are your favourite ways to lower your carbon footprint? We’d love to hear them. Get involved in the Community.

We know it’s not an average time, but the carbon saving figures we’ve used are calculated for an average home over one year. So your carbon savings may vary. Unless you live in a 3-bedroom, semi-detached house with gas heating, that is, on the average tariffs for gas and electricity. The numbers come from Energy Saving Trust who did the maths in March 2019. They’re experts at what they do and have loads of useful advice on their website.