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Keen to be green…


Michael Cooper


January 2022

10 new years’ resolutions to live more sustainably

Here at Carbon Neutral, we are always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment. We like to think we do our part through the various products and services we offer, but we can all do more to make a big difference – and often all it takes is small changes to our everyday actions.

  1. Give up the gas guzzler

The average Australian car travels approximately 13,500km per year. It is estimated that they emit around 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so leaving the car at home could significantly reduce emissions.

And it may be easier than you think. More than 70% of Australians live in major cities, and the majority of these have easy access to the country’s improving public transport infrastructure. Furthermore, our nation’s governments and urban designers are looking towards increasing urban density and improving access to workplaces, retail and entertainment precincts.

So if you’ve been a slave to the automobile, perhaps the new year is the time to switch to public transport or get the bicycle out of the shed!

2. Think local

By supporting local businesses and focusing on local produce over the course of the year, you can reduce carbon emissions associated with the supply chain as well as helping your local economy. It’s a win-win!

A word of warning, however. Locally produced products aren’t always the most environmentally friendly options available. The GHG emission associated with storage and freezing food products can be higher than those of imported products. So perhaps the plan to really become optimally sustainable should be “Buy local and seasonal”.

3. Go organic

Organic produce uses fewer resources, reduces air and groundwater pollution, and increases biodiversity such as protecting essential bee populations. Organic food is continuing to grow in popularity, and as it does so, market forces are gradually reducing the cost to consumers. 2022 could be the year you make the switch!

4. Recycle and upcycle

When making a purchase, ask yourself if you could find a similar or equivalent item on the second-hand market. Websites like Gumtree and Facebook’s Market Place are growing in popularity and choice, and each product purchased will work towards reducing your own carbon footprint.

5. Resist disposables

In Australia, approximately 130,000 tonnes of plastic leaks into the marine environment every year. Shopping bags, drinking straws and utensils are just a few of the everyday items that can be cut out to make a positive impact on the environment.

A mere 8.7 plastic shopping bags contain enough embodied petroleum energy to drive an average car one kilometre. And because plastic bags last so long, the number of them in the litter stream increases annually.

6. Reduce paper towel use

Despite our lives becoming increasingly dominated by screens, paper remains a big part of our lives… indeed, paper is the most common item that goes into landfill.

Stopping using paper towels may seem like a challenge, but it requires only a simple rethink. Use a lid or a plate to cover meals in the microwave instead of a paper towel, and you use cloth napkins and wash them afterwards. Reusable cloth napkins are one-time purchases that could last for years and continue to reduce your footprint.

7. Go veggie (or reduce your weekly meat consumption)

A number of major studies have been undertaken to measure the impact the meat industry has on global carbon emissions. While the results and statistics often differ, they are all in agreement that the impact of humans consuming meat is significant. Today’s food supply chain creates around 13.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. That’s 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, while the land required covers 43% of the world’s non-desert or ice-covered land.

As awareness of these factors has risen, several campaigns have appeared to encourage reduced meat consumption, including Meatless Monday and Veganuary!

Read more on the carbon cost of the meat industry and how synthetic alternatives are set to rise in the marketplace here.

5. Exorcise the ghost of phantom energy

Phantom energy is used by devices that continue to draw power even though they are in “off mode”. Any electronic device with a “standby” setting uses phantom energy.

Phantom energy can add up to almost 10% of a household’s electricity bills, so you will also make considerable savings by flicking the switch on the wall. Some power strips can now also prevent electronic devices from drawing power by having an automatically timed off switch that turns off all devices plugged into the strip when you’re not using them. There are also chargers that stop drawing energy when a chargeable device’s battery reaches 100%.

9. Only buy from sustainable brands

If you aren’t keen on buying second-hand clothing, why not make a resolution to only buy from sustainable fashion brands? Many labels are now stepping up to the challenge, and they are also making it easier to understand their sustainability credentials through informative labelling and websites.

In 2020, MJ Bale became Australia’s first fashion brand to be carbon neutral-certified for products and organisation. They’ve undertaken comprehensive emission reductions to ensure all their products are as sustainable as they can be. Our partner directory is a good starting point to look for brands with an awareness of good track record of sustainability.

10. Follow our mantra

We have the mantra at Carbon Neutral: measure, reduce, offset. These three simple steps are the best way to reduce the impact you have on the planet.

Measure things like travel, events, consumables and energy consumption – you can self-assess your emissions using our online calculator. If your footprint is more complex or you would like to measure your businesses footprint, you may prefer to engage the services of a carbon consultant as some of the steps involved can be highly complex.

Based on your footprint, you can reduce your emissions by making suitable changes such as following many of the ideas listed in this article. You can also offset your Green House Gas emissions in a number of ways, the simplest being planting trees (which is what we do best)! The total tonnes of GHG emissions are then compensated for, and you can move towards carbon neutrality!

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