8 Tips to Become Carbon Neutral in 2020

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Welcome to the Coping Guide, part 2 (read part 1 here). A few weeks ago, we shared with you on Instagram our guide to deal with climate change and global warming. The series started with helping you to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Then we gave you tips on how to offset your resulting carbon footprint. And finally, we helped you to prepare for the inevitable effects of climate change by giving you tips on how to become more resilient and independent. Today, we continue to put all these information in a few blog posts: the full edition of the Climate Coper manual.

TLDR- In this second part, you learn how to further reduce your carbon emissions by unplugging your appliances, insulating your home, switching to renewable electricity, travelling in green hotels and reducing your digital footprint. You also learn how you can offset your remaining carbon emissions easily.

How to reduce your carbon footprint?

The preservation of the environment is one of the hottest topics in the news, and ultimately we shall all reduce our carbon footprint to avoid a catastrophic global warming effet on Earth. Here are more tips on how to lower your daily carbon emissions.

Unplug unused appliances

Many of our everyday electrical devices consume energy in standby mode (you may have known this), and even when they are turned off (we know less about that). Over the course of a year, all those lost electrons can add up to 80-100€ to your electricity bill.

To reduce it :

  • Always unplug appliances that are used only occasionally

  • Do not unplug the washing machine or dishwasher that has water leak detection watches

  • Unplug your internet modem at night: you can save up to €20 per year

  • Choose power strips with switches for switching equipment on and off by usage group

  • For the equipment that is most sensitive to power cuts (TV, computers), you can use sockets or power strips with standby switches: they automatically block the power supply when you switch off or put the device to standby.

But why is that?

Electric coffee maker, espresso machine, kettle, toaster, TV decoder... All are equipped with a transformer that converts the current (200 Volts to 12 Volts for example). This transformer is located before the main switch of the appliance. This means that even if the switch is off, the transformer is always on and consumes a residual current. It is the same for chargers (telephone, tablet, electric shaver...) which also have a transformer.

Which appliances should you unplug at home?

Better insulate to increase energy efficiency

A good thermal insulation is the certainty of a reduction in heat loss which limits the consumption of heating and air conditioning, thus reducing at the same time: the bill, consumption and pollution up to 80%. On average 62% of your total consumption is due to heating. In addition, the ecological insulators used in thermal insulation play an important role in the preservation of the environment and the health of the individual. Ecological insulation improves air quality inside and immediately outside the building.

Cellulose wadding is both a thermal and acoustic insulator. Its thermal resistance is incomparable: it takes about ten hours for the heat to pass through it. It eliminates thermal bridges. To protect it from insects it is enough to use non-toxic products such as boron salt. Neither toxic nor irritating, it is cheap, totally recyclable and biodegradable because it is made from recycled paper.

Sheep's wool is light, easy to install and does not wear out. It is a perfectly natural and safe material. It does not undergo any changes or treatment before it is used as insulation. It does not retain water vapour and is both a thermal and sound insulator. Perfectly non-flammable, it can be used as a replacement for mineral wools. It is an ecological insulator par excellence.

Consume renewable electricity

Choosing green electricity with your supplier is first and foremost an environmental commitment. The renewable energies that are at the origin of green electricity are indeed naturally present and their exploitation generates little polluting waste and greenhouse gases. Green electricity is therefore part of the eco-friendly actions of everyday life that help to preserve the environment without giving up what makes everyday life so pleasant. Green electricity has a bright future, with the development of biogas (which can be converted into electricity through cogeneration) and all other renewable energies, it is destined to occupy an increasing share of the market.

We talk about green electricity when the source of the electricity is renewable. It can therefore come from many different sources:

  • solar, with photovoltaic panels;

  • wind, through wind turbines;

  • water, through dams, tides, waves...

  • biomass, thanks to mechanisation units, wood combustion...

The concept of green electricity thus groups together several sources of electricity which have the common characteristic of being renewable and clean. The majority of green electricity is hydraulic, i.e. it is produced from the force of water, particularly from waterfalls and torrents, but also by pumping, locks, etc.

Prefer to travel to green hotels

According to the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, tourism contributes about 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the International Tourism Partnership found that for the hotel sector to be aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement, it will need to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent per room per year by 2050 (compared to 2010 figures). Therefore, when travelling, you should look for eco-friendly hotels that implement actions to reduce their waste, energy consumption and act for environmental protection.

A large part of the hotel sector is mobilising around the world to reduce negative environmental impacts and to meet the many societal challenges ahead. The main trends in the eco-tourism sector are :

  • Reducing food waste; growing food locally, sourcing food locally...

  • Minimising water use beyond the hotel room; some establishments are turning to innovations such as showers that filter naturally collected water...

  • Dispose of plastic; disposing of single-use plastic products can help reduce the enormous amount of waste.

  • Save energy; a simple solution to replace the mini fridge and coffee machine in each room is to create a common space.

  • Integrate sustainable elements into the hotel's architecture; use local building materials and expertise (zero kilometres), give priority to energy management and emission reduction (zero carbon dioxide) and introduce life cycle management into the construction process.

Tackle your digital footprint

According to a report published in October 2018 by "The Shift Project", digital activities would be responsible for 4% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, digital energy consumption is increasing by 9% per year. To access the internet, we rely on 9 billion devices, including 2 billion smartphones, 1 billion computers, 5 to 7 billion connected objects, 45 million servers, 800 million network equipment, ADSL boxes among others... Figures that make you dizzy, especially when you know that most of the environmental impact stems from the manufacture of our devices and their end of life, if it is badly managed. The manufacture of a single computer requires no less than 240 kg of fossil fuels, 22 kg of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water!

All our uses on the internet have an impact. They have consequences on the climate, on biodiversity and even on the depletion of non-renewable natural resources. Whether it's searching through an engine, sending a simple e-mail or even storing a few files and photos for example, all these small actions in our daily lives have an environmental footprint. There are, however, a few simple tips to become a responsible Internet user and reduce your digital footprint.

How to offset your carbon footprint?

Calculate your carbon footprint

Many carbon footprint calculators are now available on the web (Carbon Footprint for example). They are primarily intended to raise awareness. This is not an exhaustive assessment, but a summary diagnosis focused on the main emission items. With a quick calculation they allow you to roughly evaluate the quantity of CO2 that you would need to offset in order to become carbon neutral. In this way you fight the increase of the greenhouse effect induced by humans (of which you are a part we assume, unless you are a lizard...).

Reminder: What is the greenhouse effect?

Different gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), are responsible for what is called the greenhouse effect. It is a natural phenomenon and necessary to our existence. Without it, it would be -18°C on the surface of the globe and all human life would be impossible! Nevertheless, human activities are contributing to the rapid increase in these greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the current climate changes. It is therefore essential that we all take into account the impact of our activities on the climate, and act accordingly by trying to reduce our carbon footprint.

Plant trees with the Green Shop

Once you know roughly how much greenhouse gas emissions you are responsible for, you will probably (hopefully) want to offset those emissions that you are unable to reduce further. The easiest and greenest way to do this today is to plant trees. Indeed, trees, in forests that man leaves alone, capture during their life more CO2 than they emit. Practical! But if it's so simple, why doesn't everyone do it?

When you buy sustainable items in the Green Shop, you actively plant trees for free. We use our profits to protect forest and restore damaged ones. Isn't that easy and great?

In addition, you can use Ecosia, a search engine that also plant trees with its profits. Today they claim to have planted more than 100 million trees. And we hope to reach such high numbers one day too, to fulfil our Purpose for Existing!

Or plant tress by yourself

Well if you have a garden, or an association nearby, you can also plant trees yourself and nurture them to adulthood. You can perhaps use someone's land (provided that they agree), or you can fund a non-profit that made it their duty to plant trees for you. In any case, what's important is that the trees get planted, protected the first years, and then left alone! Be careful though, as planting a tree in an exploitation won't do the trick. If you cut down your tree 40 years later, then your action is rendered useless.

Read Part 3 Now

In the last part we answer the question:

  • How to protect yourself from global warming?

Discover more:

- Are you a Climate Coper?

- The amount of e-waste is exploding

- Earth Overshoot Day has been set back three weeks, but...

- Passive houses are the future

- Man-made global warming: what are the current effects?

- Man-made global warming: what were we waiting for?

- Man-made global warming: when did it start






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