2020 was the hottest year on record – make the most of your downtime during lockdown 3 to save us from global warming with these simple steps from Tandem, the Green Bank, and help us reach net-zero by 2050.
1. Use a laptop
Desktop computers use 80% more battery than a laptop and perform nearly similar functions. Unless you absolutely need an extremely fast processor, an eco-friendly option can be found in the humble laptop.
2. Get green heat
Save up to £10,000 from the cost of getting energy-efficient and low-carbon heating systems installed – like ground source heat pumps – with the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme, now extended until March 2022. The vouchers cover up to two thirds of the cost of any improvements – also including wall cavity insulation, solar panels and more – and could save you £600 a year. With homes responsible for 13% of our entire carbon footprint, it could be the single biggest step you make towards saving the planet. Go to www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk
3. Don’t charge your phone overnight
A fully charged device plugged in to the wall will continue to use energy – in fact, according to the National Resources Defence Council, not unplugging fully charged devices costs the US economy $19 billion (£14.5 billion) in energy every year. So when the average smartphone only takes about 2 hours to charge from empty to full, we often have 6 hours of ‘vampire power’ being sucked from the mains. And by avoiding charging your battery to ‘extremes’ (above 80% and below 20%) you extend its lifespan, meaning you’re less likely to need an upgrade – further reducing your environmental impact.
4. Limit emails
Sure, print-outs and postage won’t do the environment any favours, but emailing has an impact too – and considering an estimated 250 billion are sent every single day in the UK, it adds up. According to Professor Mike Berners-Lee, because of the electricity needed to send, receive and store your emails, one regular email leads to 4g of CO2 to be produced, while one with a large attachment has a footprint of up to 50g. A recent study by an energy company suggested that if every adult in the UK sent one less “thank you” email, it would save nearly 16,500 tonnes of carbon a year.
5. Watch low-res
Catching up on your favourite Netflix shows is the ultimate lockdown activity, but one that also contributes to your carbon footprint. One study suggests that 420g of CO2 is emitted per every hour spent watching films on online streaming platforms, while Netflix revealed in February that its global energy consumption increased by 84 per cent in 2019. Cut your CO2 emissions by watching in standard definition, rather than high definition. which uses up to five times the energy.
6. Switch cheeses
Most of us are aware of the environmental impact of eating meat, but the production of dairy also leads to significant carbon emissions. Cheese is a prime example of this, producing up to 13.5kg of CO2 per kilogram — that’s more than chicken, which has a footprint of 6.9kg per kilogram of meat. As well as cutting down on your cheese consumption, another way you can reduce the impact of your dairy habit is opting for a lower-fat, less-dense cheese such as mozzarella or ricotta.
7. Go vintage
The fashion industry contributes an estimated 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Fabric production and washing are the main contributors to the overall carbon footprint of clothes: a pair of Levi’s jeans can lead up to 33.4kg of CO2 being emitted over the course of its life, for example, while a cotton T-shirt can have emissions of 15kg. Extending your clothes’ life for just nine months can reduce their carbon footprint by around 20 to 30 per cent, according to the environment campaign group WRAP — that means opting for vintage and second-hand clothes is also a more conscious choice.