One Hit Wonder?
I’m blown away by all encouragement and support I have received for my first blog post. Thank you all so much! If you are new: welcome, we’re just getting started! It’s time for that tricky second album called “Your Climate Impact And What You Can Do About It”.
When thinking about the climate, you may have some anxiety with regards to where to start and that’s perfectly normal. Some of the best ways to deal with climate anxiety include acknowledging it, finding a community and taking action. Both of which I aim to help you do with my blog.
This time, I’ll share the method I use to get an overview of my lifestyle and its climate impact. It will give you an idea of how to go about reducing and compensating for yours. As well as a way to take back the carbon emissions we are responsible for. This gives us a bit of a buffer whilst we try out lifestyle changes and see how they fit.
As I’ve said before, we need massive government and corporate changes to really bring emissions to zero. But that won’t happen without individual effort too. Taking action and educating yourself as you go will apply pressure on those in power. You’ll be able to make more informed choices of what to do, what to buy and how to vote.
Everyone’s impact will look different depending on many factors like where you live, how you travel and what you eat. We are all in different places compared to each other and that is to be expected. Remember we are working together so this isn’t a competition. Be mindful of the ways you can focus on personal achievement rather than compare yourself to others. Any improvement is a win. Hopefully you will feel compelled to donate or take other action to compensate for what you can.
So: How Do I Compensate for My Climate Impact?
Put simply: I use Compensate.
Two years ago, I was chatting with a friend over drinks and he casually mentioned that there was a non-profit startup here in Finland called “Compensate“. They focus on helping individuals and businesses take responsibility for the carbon they have released into the atmosphere.
Through their site and app you can answer simple questions about your lifestyle to gauge your impact. Then you can decide whether you would like to offset your carbon emissions by a chosen amount by donating money to fund various projects around the world. I signed up straight away to try it out and have been using it ever since. They have recently spruced up their app and it’s quite fun to use!
Can you trust them?
I’ve dug a little deeper into them for this blog post and also spoken to a few employees there in order to help ensure you that they are a super trustworthy organisation. Here are some key facts:
- Their sustainability team and operation is world-class, so any money you donate will be in safe hands and only go to viable solutions.
- Their CEO has written for Fast Company about the criteria they use to ensure that an offsetting project is legitimate (Over 90% don’t meet their criteria so they only pick the best).
- Each project they support helps not only the climate, but also biodiversity, human rights, and local communities.
- They are a non-profit organisation, motivated purely by creating environmental and social impact.
- Transparency is a priority to them, you can even view their bank statements and project certificates!
Can I Use it Where I Live?
Compensate is currently available in the Eurozone, including Sweden, Denmark and the UK. If you live elsewhere and know anything similarly easy, trustworthy and effective to use, please share by commenting on this blog post and I will add them at a later date.
Some other favourite ways of mine to actively contribute to cleaning up my mess are donating to:
- Climeworks: who build CO2 Capture Plants that actually remove carbon from the atmosphere. 🤯 This is actually an incredibly effective way of reducing our carbon footprint and your subscription will actively help them build more and scale up the technology. This is such exciting stuff!
- Giving Green: A site founded by economist Dr. Dan Stein that recommends the most effective donations you can make to fight climate change. Top of the list: Donate towards policy change initiatives and CO2 offsets/removal!
- The Ocean Cleanup: Not CO2 related, but These guys have developed some kick-ass technology to actively remove plastic from our oceans and rivers. You can make a donation or even buy products they have made from the retrieved plastic. As you can see below, you will look pre-tty cool!
Are you Being Paid For This?
Nope. This might sound like a paid promo, but it really isn’t. I just love the Compensate app and have found it very beneficial. I believe what they are doing can be massively helpful to others and help simplify things into actionable goals. If you follow my links all I may get in return is some “climate friends”. It will be nice for me to see that I have had some impact by sharing with you, so will you be my climate friend?
It’s really simple to use so you could just stop reading here and go try it out!
If you can’t get enough of my writing, I’ll run through my journey with the app below so you can see what my lifestyle is like!
My Climate Impact
I’ve used their Carbon Footprint Calculator, so the front page greets me letting me know what the estimate of my yearly footprint is. Currently that’s 4160kg of CO2 per year.
After Tapping on the welcome message it lets me know that Travel changes would have the most impact for me. Which makes sense. During pre-pandemic times I often made at least two flights home to the UK each year.
The questions will give you lots of insight so let’s dig into each calculator heading! I’ll share some tips on places we could start to make changes to improve each.
It’s currently pretty tricky for me to improve here. Two of us live in a 61m2 appartment that was built in 2016 and we use 100% green energy (hydro, wind and solar) from Helen. I spend about 35-40 mins in the shower every week, give me some privacy and don’t imagine that! 🛀
But some things we could all consider:
- Could you live happily and comfortably in a smaller place? These take less energy to fuel, heat and build and will likely cost you less too!
- Why not switch to an all solar/hydro/wind electricity plan? In my case this is only 1c/kwh more than a fossil fuel plan.
- Consider your heating and shower habits. Does it need to be that warm or on so long?
Definitely some room for improvement for me here. I don’t want to give up seeing my family. So I can either offset more or consider other ways of making the trip that may be more efficient.
I drive an electric car (my boy “Rufus” a Tesla Model 3), charge it with Green electricity and drive approximately 250km a week. This is mainly for road trips and transporting stuff. Mostly I use public transport or walk to get around the city.
Flights are my main problem, contributing over 797kg of carbon per year for just visiting my family. When I used to travel for vacations or business, just one round trip to LA would produces 11 tonnes! 😬. Commercial electric passenger flights will take a while so we’ll have to consider reducing where possible.
So some lifestyle points to consider in this category:
- Do you really need a car or can a bicycle or public transport do the trick? There is significant carbon released during the production of any car, let alone running petrol ones. I’ll dig into this more in a future blog post!
- Do you need to travel for work? Will a phone or Zoom call be just as productive?
- Avoid domestic flights, go by car or train instead.
- When you go on holiday choose a guesthouse or airBnb over a hotel. Commercial buildings tend to use more energy to maintain and generate more single use waste.
- Can you afford an electric car? They aren’t the cheapest yet, but reduced running costs, maintenance costs and subsidies are helping. It’s also a great way to help speed up the transition to sustainable energy transport and bring costs down for everyone else. I’ve had one for over a year and it’s been so convenient to charge and get about with, I’ve even made road trips across to mainland Europe from Finland. I’d definitely recommend a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y (starting at £40k), but I also hear some good things about the VW ID.3 and ID.4 (starting at £31k).
Ok I should be pretty good on this one, but I promise not to be too-preachy. I’ve been Vegan for 20 years now!🧙 When did I get so old!?
The IPCC have high confidence that adopting a diet low in energy-intensive animal-sourced (meat and dairy) and discretionary foods (such as sugary beverages) will benefit our climate. So it really is better for you and the planet!
But as the IPCC and other sources acknowledge the food industry is complex; so some more consideration points here:
- Can you explore ways of cutting down on Meat and Dairy Consumption in a fun way with your family? Maybe take part in Veganuary, or have Meat Free Mondays?
- Have your tried Delicious Oatly Barista Milk in your coffee or new meat-like alternatives like Beyond Meat?
- When shopping, could you choose items without plastic packaging (and skip the plastic bags)?
- Can you choose products that have been sourced locally and therefore are less likely to have contributed to deforestation or emissions due to transportation?
- It’s true that soy leads to a lot of deforestation (forests are natural carbon absorbers and burning them releases even more carbon). But most of this is actually produced to be consumed by animals in the meat and dairy industry. So tackling the meat and dairy aspect of your diet will have a bigger impact.
- It may even be interesting to change your cooking based on what’s seasonal locally to further avoid products sourced from further away.
- Check the products you consume don’t contain palm oil, that shit is bad. To make your choices a little easier see the image below. I’d try to avoid the red ones at least:
As I’ve said in my about page, I’m a bit of a minimalist so I avoid buying stuff I don’t need or that doesn’t really improve my life. I value high quality products that are sustainable and preferably recyclable or made from recycled materials over disposable fashion and goods.
One contributor in our household is actually the fact that we have pets. This is due to many of the same reasons that feeding and caring for humans can cause a large effect.
Here are some points I am currently considering in this area:
- Do I really use all my stuff? Can I use techniques like a Packing Party or The Reverse Hanger Trick to help me be more aware of just how much stuff I don’t use or need and not replace it in future?
- Become more aware about how our wants and needs are manufactured to support growing profits rather than our wellbeing.
- Resist being driven by seasonal trends and fashions.
- Can I make better choices about how and where I shop? e.g by reading Fashionopolis: Why What We Wear Matters
- Use tools like Good On You and opt for brands with a more smiley face in each category you want to shop in.
- As EmR mentions in the comments: Have a look around your local recycling center before shopping new.
- If you have kids look for a hand me down chain or even check with friends who will likely be eager to pass on clothes and toys that their kids have grown out of.
- Avoid fast fashion chains such as Zara whose parent company Inditex are by far the worst climate offenders in this category; emitting 500000 tonnes of CO2 in 2019! Even choosing H&M here is a huge win! (This was a shock to me as I have some clothes from Zara…)
That started out simple and got pretty in depth, so here is a quick summary for those who skipped to the end or forgot how they got here:
- Download the Compensate app and use its Carbon Calculator to get an estimate of your Carbon Footprint.
- Choose what amount you’d like to offset with them and make a monthly contribution.
- Have fun exploring the different headings in the calculator and seeing how changes you make there can affect things.
- Try a few lifestyle changes on for size like eating less meat and dairy, considering if you need to travel and buying less products and buying the things you need from companies that are trying to do better for the climate.
and finally step number 5. Let me know in the comments down below what your result was and share any lifestyle changes you are trying on for size!
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