Reducing our carbon footprint on Earth Day and every other day

22nd April 2020

"the total decrease could be 5.5% or more globally, the
largest fall in annual CO2 emissions ever seen"

Today, 22nd April 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet. You can find loads more information about what they do over on www.earthday.org, its certainly worth a read if you have some time. For today, were talking about how we can all reduce out carbon footprint from home…

 

Firstly, let’s talk about why it’s still important during lockdown, I know what you’re thinking, it’s been widely reported that the reductions have been huge this year, with Carbon Brief suggesting the total decrease could be 5.5% or more globally, the largest fall in annual CO2 emissions ever seen, yet if history is anything to go by we could actually see an increase on previous figures as we all return back out into the world, collectively we have the power to prevent this. You might also be shocked to hear that we actually need to see a fall of 7.6% every year this decade in order to limit warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures… even with us all in lockdown we’re not going to hit this target, why? Because we still aren’t making enough changes to our lifestyles at home.

"streaming video uses the same amount of energy as having
two or three old fashioned iridescent light bulbs
switched on at the same time"

 

Increasing research is showing our addiction to binge watching and excessive scrolling are contributing to climate crisis, have you ever thought about those massive data centres and servers that power the internet, even in the IT based company I used to work for, there was a whole room packed with servers and computers, all having to be air condition cooled to keep it from overheating, think about all that energy that’s going into just powering one call centre with less than 250 people in the building! Imagine the size of the rooms and the amount on energy going into powering all our Netflix binges, YouTube addictions, gaming husbands and constant scrolling on the gram… It’s been suggested that streaming video uses the same amount of energy as having two or three old fashioned iridescent light bulbs switched on at the same time, and that’s before even taking into account the devise your using or your WiFi box . One study suggested that five billion plays of the music video for 2017’s Despacito used as much electricity as five African countries put together in a single year…

 

Behind the scenes Netflix are committed to reducing their environmental impact and using carbon offsetting, but that’s just the start of the solution. Instagram, owned by Facebook, has committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 75% and powering their global operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. But is the solution stopping using these altogether?

"the biggest change you can make in your household
is to switch to renewable energy"

While some may say remove the technology, we say embrace the technology, think of all the ways the technology industry is helping to develop green energy solutions… the biggest change you can make in your household is to switch to renewable energy, choosing a company, such as Bulb, Green Energy UK or Scottish Power for your electricity and looking at green gas options such as those using naturally occurring gases from deep inside our old landfill sites. This way we can all continue our Instagram additions and feel a little safer in the knowledge we are not using fossil fuels to charge our devices.

 

But this is just the start of the process, switching to green energy is all well and good, but let’s not use more than we need to… Below are a few quick fixes we can do while at home to help reduce our energy consumption, and perhaps even save some money in the process…

 

Lighting

 

Lighting can add up to around 10% of your energy bill, try switching to energy efficient bulbs once your old ones stop working, choosing the brightness depending on the room. Switch them off when you’re not in a room and perhaps switch to just one lamp on an evening. Use timers and sensors to reduce the amount of time lights are on and swap batteries in battery powered lights to rechargeable ones.

 

Plugs and charging points

 

Did you know that most plugs will still be using electricity even if the item isn’t switched on? Just by switching the plug off at the wall you will be making a big difference to the amount of energy consumed. Unplugging USB chargers from wall ports and only leaving devices plugged in until they are full, switching your laptop off and unplugging it from the charger once its full are all ways you can make a difference.

 

Electronic devices

 

Beyond just switching plugs off there are lots of devices draining the power in your home, things such as switching TV’s to eco mode, only boiling the amount of water you need, turning ovens off at the wall when not in use and keeping your fridge at the right temperature are all small ways we use reduce excess energy daily. Keeping your heating and hot water on timers and at lower settings, throwing on a jumper when you’re feeling cold and trying to avoid high energy items such as microwaves all help too.

 

Washing

 

Not only should we be buying less and repairing more, we should also be looking at how much we wash our clothes, not everything needs washing after one wear, sponging small marks off items instead of washing the whole thing can help get another wear out of something, I’m not suggesting you put something on that smells here but just by thinking ‘does this actually need washing,’ we can have an impact on our planet. Switch that washing machine down a setting or two… we use an eco-speed wash on both the washing machine and dishwasher, using SMOL eco washing tabs and trying not to use the tumble drier. This is actually pretty hard for us here, because, for some reason, and it’s the only place I’ve ever lived that it’s happened, the flies leave little black poo dots over everything! I mean everything, if you leave a fly in a room unattended, expect every surface to have little poo dots on it in small clusters of about 10… the same goes for the washing, if it’s left outside to dry it will come back in dirtier than it went out and I’m telling you, that stuff is not easy to wash out! We therefore use an eco-setting on a big fancy tumble driver which knows how much heat to use and when to stop drying. This theory can also be applied to hair washing, while our bodies need a wash each day (put down that plastic bottle of shower gel and pick up your eco soap) our hair doesn’t, lockdown is the perfect time to train it to keep going an extra day before washing.

 

Your house

While this isn’t relevant for everyone, keeping on top of things like insulation, choosing eco insulation, checking for drafts, air leaks and popping a piece of tinfoil behind radiators can make a impact too… Look at swapping your electricity meter for a smart meter so you can keep an eye on the amount of energy used in your house at any given point.

 

These are just a few ways you can reduce, there are other options such as reducing your meat intake, shopping locally, buying organic, buying less & buying better, moving around the planet less,  planting a garden and taking care of the bees, but here is a good place to start.

 

We’d love to know if you are doing any of these or perhaps some other things to reduce your carbon footprint, let us know in the comments…

About Us

It's so nice to meet you... We are so glad you've found our slow & seasonal lifestyle journal, grab yourself a cup of tea, perhaps a homemade biscuit or slice of cake from a local shop and lets dive in.

 

We are Mike & Emma, husband & wife, homebodys, although not ones to shy away from adventure, we created Vincent Living with a passion for traditional methods, beauty in imperfection and our planet. 

We live by the sea in South Devon and find ourselves listening to the waves after long days creating, we love nothing more than a cosy night in with our little Cyprus rescue dog Lola. 

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Salcombe, Devon, United Kingdom

Website and Photography by Emma Vincent