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The Footprint of Your Carbon Emissions

Footprints in sand

You wake up. It’s early and still dark outside, so you turn all the lights on. As always you get breakfast. You decide to make bacon and eggs. Once you’re done you go to get changed for work. You then leave the house, get in your car, and drive 20 minutes to work. You finally finish, and drive home. For dinner you decide to make Spag Bol. Once you’ve finished eating, you put the dishwasher on then go to pass the time before you go to bed.

Why the boring anecdote?

This is a very simple and ordinary daily story, practiced by millions everyday. However there are some crucial environmental issues with it. The lights turned on in the morning weren’t turned off before the person left. The bacon and eggs were EU imported. The 20 minute drive back and forth not only had a bus route along the way, it was walkable. The mince was beef. The dishwasher was nearly empty and on an intensive 70 degree wash.

Without too much thought or context put towards all these things, they don’t seem like big issues. However, there is another way to view these seemingly innocent actions. The lights used up a huge amount of energy, generated by burning coal and gas, even though no one was home. The imported bacon and eggs were shipped for thousands of miles across the continent in lorries, trucks and boats fuelled by petrol and diesel. The drive to work and back was fuelled by petrol, only to carry 1 person, along a route where no petrol was needed. The beef mince was made from a farming industry that, due to its scale from its demand and the nature of the animal, produces 10% of total global emissions by itself. The dishwasher, facing a similar issue to the lights, unnecessary energy expenditure.

These actions carried out every single day by 1 person alone, don’t add up to a lot. These actions carried out by almost 1 billion people, and the companies that provide for them, do.

Same old conversation

Global warming, its causes, and consequences are talked about a lot - but not enough. The origin of peoples inactivity stems from the fact that it's an invisible enemy, whose attacks only appear over years and decades. It is also an enemy that can only be defeated by time, and cannot be beaten by a single person, discouraging individuals from contributing to its defeat - even though its a problem that requires every individual to do so. However, taking a step back its impact can be seen. The impact and history of this issue is lived, it only takes some reflection to realize it. For those in the UK who are old enough to remember: When was the last year we experienced a substantial and reasonably sustained snowy winter?

Making a difference

It is a problem mostly caused by large businesses and their operations, so people see no fault of their own in the issue - but these businesses only operate as a result of those same people's demands. An office worker cannot be expected to make electric cars cheaper and more efficient, or create mass renewable energy farms to replace coal and gas. Only large businesses can and businesses only listen to money. Money they see in the people's demands.

Therefore in order to make a real individual difference, to clean our air and reduce the rate of its pollution, the average person's daily story must be changed.

  • Only turning on the lights you need, and turning them off when they aren’t needed.

  • Buying food that's more locally sourced, to reduce the demand for enormous shipping miles.

  • Lower demand for petrol and diesel vehicles by walking distances that are walkable, showing preference for electric cars, and taking public transport if possible for distances that aren’t.

  • Choosing ingredients from industries that produce less carbon emissions.

  • Using appliances on eco settings, to lessen energy usage, or using a more traditional way to complete the task if possible.

  • and many more...

You wake up. It’s early and still dark outside. As always you go to get breakfast, and turn on the kitchen light. You decide to make bacon and eggs, farmed from your county. Once you’re done you go to get changed for work. You turn off the lights then leave the house and take the bus to work. You finally finish and you take the bus home. For dinner you decide to make chili con carne, using turkey mince as a substitute. Once you’ve finished eating you do the washing up by hand, before passing the time then going to bed.


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