I’m sure I’ve written before about how easy it is to look at other people’s lives and see where they could be living with a lower carbon footprint, and how easy it is to make excuses or have blind spots about our own lives. Anyone who’s talked with me at length over the last few weeks will have noticed that I was given ‘How Bad are Bananas?’ by Mike Berners-Lee at Christmas and how this book has turned things on their heads for me.
For example, I hadn’t realised that a British apple kept in cold store for 6 months has a higher carbon footprint than one imported from New Zealand, brought by ship, or that talking on the mobile phone for an hour every day for a year has the same carbon footprint as flying from London to New York one way.
So I thought I’d apply some of my new-found knowledge to my own life, and was slightly appalled that my own breakfast (porridge and a latte) was coming in at the equivalent of 890g towards my carbon footprint per day because of the high milk content. Nearly a kg! A bowl of porridge made from milk counts for 550g, and the latte 340g – adding up to about 325kg pa – whereas porridge made just from water is approx 82g, and a green tea 21g, ie a total of 103g per day or 38kg pa. So in a year I could save 88% of the carbon footprint of my breakfast by making a few simple changes.
I hadn’t made porridge from water before, as it all sounded a bit too much like gruel, and although Oliver Twist may have wanted more it didn’t quite appeal to me. How wrong I was.
And then when I looked at the calories, I dropped from approx 690 per day (milky porridge @ 540 calories, latte @150) to 185 calories (porridge made with water @185 cal, green tea @zero). So with a little tweak I can make massive savings on my carbon footprint, still enjoy my breakfast, and save a whopping 500 calories!! I’m swaying between the positive aspects of life from now on, and the guilt of past, unintended, sins. I shall atone with gruel… But I did have the idea that maybe we should all have carbon footprint buddies who gently point out where we could make changes, or at least make informed choices.