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20 Different Ways That You’re Killing The Planet

Ever wondered what the most common activities are doing to the environment? Now you can find out the carbon footprint of everyday tasks you take for granted.

Whether we admit to it or are aware of it, each one of us has a carbon footprint, directly or indirectly. This can be from driving to work, leaving a light on or even boiling the kettle for a cup of tea.

We’ve researched the carbon footprint for different everyday items so that we could compare them against each other. So, if you’re looking to be more green at home or at work, you can start making a difference to help save the planet.

So, here’s eCo2’s list of 20 different activities that could be contributing to your own carbon footprint…

What is a carbon footprint?

Typically, a carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions directly or indirectly caused by an individual, event, product or organisation, such as your place of work.

This can include anything that causes the burning of fossil fuels, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions. Examples would be driving to work, energy to power or heat your home – where it comes from – and waste disposal.

1. 100-watt light bulb (1 year) – 500kg CO2e

An obvious cause of a carbon footprint is not only leaving your lights on when they aren’t in use but using the wrong type of bulb. Obviously, turning those lights off really can make a big difference, however, if you’re not using energy-efficient lighting, your carbon footprint will be higher. To improve your lighting efficiency even more, invest in LED lighting.

2. A banana – 80g CO2e

That’s right, bananas are destroying our planet. We don’t mean the fruit itself, but this is an example of an indirect impact on your carbon footprint. The reason they have a much bigger carbon footprint than you’d think is because of the production and packing, transport and shipping of bananas for global consumption. Something to consider when shopping for fruit when it’s not in season.

3. Taking a bath – 1.1kg CO2e

This may be known by some of you, especially when it comes to your water bill, but for those who love a long soak in the bath, you may want to reconsider. A single dip in the bath has more than double the carbon impact of taking a shower because the energy needed to warm the water is much greater.

4. Taking a shower – 500g CO2e

This one’s based around a six-minute rinse in a typical electric shower. If you’re quicker than this (how?) then you can reduce this down to just 90g CO2e (based on a three-minute shower). For an electric shower, the footprint comes from how your home gets its energy – what resources is your provider using?

5. Cup of tea with milk – 71g CO2e

That’s right, a cup of tea has a carbon footprint – directly and indirectly. Besides the energy expelled to get the tea to you, you are wasting energy as soon as you put the kettle on. By simply adding milk to your mug you’ll be contributing an extra 50g CO2e. Again, an indirect impact on your carbon footprint because of the process from the farm to your cup. Production, packaging, transportation, it all adds up.

6. Black tea – 21g CO2e

Essentially the same as the above but without the milk production. The production process of tea has an indirect impact on your carbon footprint – such as transport from the country it’s grown in. Included in the footprint of tea is the packaging process, industrially putting the tea into bags, then boxes and finishing with plastic.

7. Bottle of beer – 500g CO2e

You may well contribute directly to the environmental impact if you have one too many by burping, but the carbon footprint of a bottle of beer is all about production. The beer production process, bottle production and transport, retail electricity use to keep them chilled, and malt production and transport. If it isn’t clear, this is an indirect impact on your carbon footprint, which is the same for the entire alcohol industry.

8. Bottle of wine – 1.04kg CO2e

Like beer, wine’s carbon footprint comes from its production and transport – jetting vintages across the globe, for instance. You can actually reduce your carbon footprint by drinking cartons of wine as opposed to bottles because the production process of a carton is less impactful than a bottle. Imported wine could have a footprint of 1.5kg CO2e per bottle.

9. A large cappuccino – 235g CO2e

Similar to a cup of tea, the big contributor here is the milk content. Aside from the milk production, the process of steaming and frothing the milk can use a large amount of wasted energy. If you enjoy a morning cappuccino, then you’ll be contributing around 235g CO2e at the start of each day. Perhaps have an espresso instead.

10. Cheeseburger – 2.5kg CO2e

Another reason to go veggie, on top of not eating meat – veggie burgers have 1.5x fewer carbon emissions than cheeseburgers. If you want to make a difference but retain your love of burgers, this could be an option. This again comes down to production, from the farm and its cattle, through to processing the meat and transporting to the supermarket (chilling or freezing the meat to keep it fresh uses extra energy).

Learn more about eCo2 Greetings and our eCards

11. Being cremated – 80kg CO2e

Morbid, we know, but who knew dying was so bad for the planet? Is this classed as indirect if it’s your service? Either way, the high carbon footprint comes from the energy needed for the cremation. Then any energy from, perhaps, travelling to scatter the ashes in a memorable location. Don’t beat yourself up too much though, a diamond necklace is five times worse than this.

12. Driving 1 mile – 710g CO2e

Popping out to the shops down the road? Even the shortest drive in your car has a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Starting a car is the most wasteful part of using a car, the fuel used to purely start an engine is high compared to being at speed. This is why “city driving” will burn more fuel than motorway driving as there is more stop-start driving. Maybe get some exercise and walk next time.

13. Using a Dyson Airblade – 3g CO2e

Good old Dyson, creating a way for us to dry our hands without completely destroying Earth in the process. By comparison, a standard electric hand dryer will use 20G CO2e while a paper towel will use 10g. The paper towel will be higher again if you use more than one towel. A standard dryer will also be worse because of the energy to heat the air but also using it repeatedly to have dry hands.

14. An email with 1mb attachment – 19g CO2e

Every email processed uses electricity. This energy is used to run the computer itself but also the server and routers. Adding just a small attachment can dramatically increase the carbon footprint of your emails. Consider reducing the file size before you press send and it could make a big difference.

15. An email with no attachment – 4g CO2e

As you can see, dropping those bulky attachments can make a big difference. Just think about the number of emails you send or receive in a day, particularly at work, and it all starts to add up.

16. Heart bypass operation – 1.1 tonnes CO2e

This adds a whole new meaning to keeping your heart healthy. This will be the power used for the surgery, lighting, breathing apparatus and more. Health services have a high carbon footprint, despite the incredible work they do. You know what they say, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’… just make sure the apple has been sourced locally.

17. iMac – 720kg CO2e

As beautiful as they are, they’ve got a pretty hefty carbon footprint. Especially when you consider that around 63g of carbon is emitted each hour of use (on top of this figure). Compare this to a simple low-cost laptop (around 200kg CO2e) and you’ll notice the contrast. This figure will include everything you can do on an iMac but also the process of making it – each and every little chip and hard drive uses materials that are costly to extract.

18. Pair of jeans – 6kg CO2e

As far as clothing goes, jeans aren’t the worst from a CO2 point of view. The average pair of shoes will have a carbon footprint that’s nearly three times this figure. When you consider that you’d have to send 428,571 SMS messages to equal the CO2e of a pair of jeans, it kind of puts things in perspective. Think about the process involved in the manufacture of jeans – or any clothing – and you’ll understand the environmental impact fashion has on the globe.

19. Boiling an electric kettle – 70g CO2e

Although an electric kettle is the quickest way to boil water, and it’s true that by filling your kettle up with less water you’ll reduce the carbon footprint, a gas-powered kettle is much greener – by around 30%.

20. Boiling a gas kettle – 50g CO2e

If you own a vintage-looking, hob-powered kettle, you may think that it has a much bigger footprint than an electric kettle. Well, you’re wrong. Using a gas kettle is by far the most carbon-friendly way to boil your water, especially if you heat it up on a small gas ring. It may take a little longer, though.

So, as you can see, there are small steps you can take that will make a big difference to your carbon footprint. One of which is to send eCards this festive season and do away with the wasted paper and card.

Learn more about festive eCards with eCo2 Greetings and how to reduce your environmental impact.

Learn more about what you can do to protect the environment and reduce your carbon footprint with our eCo2 Greetings blog.

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