Blog post 8: What is the effect of my change?

A chart on how to reduce your contribution to climate change. (by Seth Wynes and Kimberly Nicholas /in the Enviromental Research Letters). Extracted from his scientific article

By now, we all know that planes are not good for the environment, but I wanted peered-reviewed reviews and calculations. Not only what people write in blogs 😉

The picture here above comes from an interesting scientific article, talking about which individual action are the most important to lower our footprint.

Having less children comes first… but if there are there (or the desire of it), it’s too late. Afterwards comes transportation: having a car and flying.

Yes, traveling… I know, we all need a break once in a while.

In the last 6 years, I’ve been flying once to Austria for work (motivation: my best friends live there too…). The 4 years before, I’ve been flying a (too) much for work… To be honest, I don’t have the feeling that I’m missing something by not flying anymore. We have always nice holidays. We often book last minute so that we can have an idea of the weather (bad weather => lots of museum in the area; good weather =>place for outdoors activities).

You can learn a lot by traveling or living abroad about others and yourself. So, I’m not blaming or judging here. Just thoughts 😉 and numbers. But do you have any idea to what could you compare your CO2 footprint of flying?

I didn’t believe my husband when he told me that flying back and forth to New York would produce as much energy as to warm our house for an entire year (we put the heater on only in the living/kitchen and during bath time for the girls in the bathroom). I was chocked!

… I know… you want to check it yourself… I also did it. I found an user friendly CO2 footprint calculator (“Carbon Footprint”). You can calculate the CO2 footprint from transport, heating, traveling…. My husband was right: we produce 0,85 metric tons of CO2 to warm up our house for a YEAR… it equals flying ONCE to New York and back produce 0,87 metric tons of CO2. Crazy, he?

Why not go on “staycation”? I’ve just learned this word last week… it means staying at home of in your own country for vacations (I know, Belgium is small; but let’s broaden it to Benelux). And you can try out making all those recipes from the website. 😉 A German train company has compared famous touristic destination with similar places in Germany. So cool!! When we go on a weekend trip (without kids), we often take the bike on the train to a Belgian city, and then bike home.

I know, in many countries, train is more expensive than taking the car. Hopefully governments will follow the example of other European cities/countries to make public transportation free of charge like Luxemburg (country) is planning for 2020 and 2 other cities are doing: Tallinn since 2013 (Estonia) and Dunkirk since 2018 (France).

And what about plastic reduction (zero waste)?

I’ve just post about buying food unpacked. Now I’m showing you a drawing where buying without packaging doesn’t even appear as an efficient way to slow down climate change due to CO2 production… In the article, plastic was not very much discussed. So, I’ve done my homework 😉.

In his report, the Center for International and Environmental Law (CIEL), explains that “Emissions from plastic emerge not only from the production and manufacture of plastic itself, but from every stage in the plastic life-cycle – from the extraction and transport of the fossil fuels that are the primary feed-stocks for plastic, to refining and manufacturing, to waste management, to the plastic that enters the environment.” Their estimation for 2019 was that the production and incineration of plastic will produce 860 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.

As we are 7,7 billion people on earth, this is 0,11 tonnes of CO2 per person per year. But you’ll help reduce the natural disaster of the ocean getting filled by plastic and we will eat less plastic (scientist calculated (report from WWF) that we are eating the equivalent of 1 credit card of plastic per week…).

You’ll tell me to buy food wrapped in bioplastic… but this is maybe an alternative for example for food which conserve longer when wrapped (to avoid waste), but it is definitely not the solution. The production (and its destruction which is not always so simple) stays an issue (if you want to read more, I found a well written and interesting article).

Some other numbers I found on the internet:

  • 0,5 tCO2: Shopping for 100 eur clothes each month
  • 1 tCO2: New furniture purchase of 1000 eur
  • Tip from the app For Good: “Driving more slowly = driving more eco-friendly. By reducing your speed on the motorway by 10 to 15 km/h you will save yourself 1 litre of fuel per 100 km. The time you save by driving faster is usually negligible whereas the energy consumption increases quadratically with the increasing speed. In other words, doubling your speed quadruples your energy consumption”.

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