Calculating my Carbon Footprint for the Year by Safia Minney

Image credit: Chris Haughton


I’d been asking my friends about the most reliable carbon calculator. If you’re going to do a carbon confessional, 7 minutes answering questions about your carbon footprint, to benchmark your life and begin to understand how to cut your carbon and readjust your life, you want to know that you’re in trusted hands and that the figures are truly up to date. I was recommended

The UK average is 7 tonnes per capita per year. Having refused a couple of work assignments overseas this year because they involved flying, I hoped that I had reduced my carbon footprint. I learnt about other priorities too, like insulating my home, having switched to renewable energy; getting a good seasonal, veggie/vegan cookbook to start planning meals with less imported foods, (I rarely eat out) and some good organic herbs and spices to turn my Riverford organic veg leftovers into great soups. As for ‘stuff’, I don’t buy much, but realise I need a wardrobe ‘detox’ and home declutter, which involves finding things and stops me buying stuff I already have. It also helps me ‘recycle’ on gumtree, etc. and find good homes for the things I no longer use. At the end of the survey I’m reminded of the ‘sustainable’ figure of 1.5 tonnes per year is ‘uncertain’ – an amount that the world’s oceans may be able to absorb and that fossil fuels are finite and so no emission level is ‘sustainable’ in the very long term.’ This is going to be a big adjustment for all of us. It isn’t easy when the advertising industry around us is still shouting “business as usual” and the people around you act as though there is no climate and ecological emergency.

Of course individual action goes together with putting pressure on governments (and media) to tell the truth about the climate crisis and create the urgent system change we need. What would follow would be regulation and infrastructural support for individuals and communities to go zero carbon. I am hopeful of the new economics that a Global New Green Deal would bring about. But right now, and with such little time left, I’m hoping that after this extraordinary year of Extinction Rebellion and School Strikes that this Christmas holiday season will bring together different generations to have a courageous conversation about the climate and biodiversity crisis. What’s the point of discussing what the kids will be doing 10 years from now if we do not act now to protect their futures? When better than before the January Sales to talk to friends and family and friends about the things that really matter;- enjoying nature, good relationships and finding courage to connect with the change that is coming.

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