One of the unexpected benefits of being in lockdown is using this period as a sustainability baseline. We’re not driving as much as we usually do. We’re not travelling by air. But we’re also using more electricity at home and ordering more goods online.
So, how am I doing?
As I’ve written before, my lockdown life isn’t that different from my pre-pandemic life. And I imagine my post-pandemic life won’t be significantly different either. But by reviewing my ecological and carbon sustainability while in lockdown, it will give me a baseline to work from when our post-pandemic lifestyles become more apparent.
How I Reviewed My Sustainability
I used two separate online tools to help me assess my current level of sustainability.
- The Global Footprint Network’s Ecological Footprint calculator.
This is a fun and easy-to-use website that helps you calculate how many tonnes of carbon dioxide you put into the air, and also tells you how many Earths we would all need to support your life lifestyle.
- The Carbon Footprint Ltd carbon offset calculator
This website asks for details about your electricity and gas use, how many kilometres you fly each year, and how much you spend on food to calculate your carbon footprint.
My Ecological Footprint
I try to have a small ecological footprint. I don’t eat red meat very often, though I do eat poultry a few times a week, and eat dairy every day. I avoid packaged foods and try and buy local produce as much as possible. My wife and I are relatively frugal spenders and only buy things when we need them. We don’t own a car and don’t go away on trips.
Not surprisingly, we did well on our ecological footprint. According to the ecological footprint calculator, if everyone on Earth consumed as much as we do, then the whole of humanity would only consume 80% of the Earth’s total resources each year.
Of course, this is a very simplistic summary, but still good to know on a personal level. But we’re not typical. Most people in advanced western nations consume much more than my wife and I do. They would all need to give up so much to live as we do. No car, no travelling, minimal consumption; a bit like being in lockdown.
But now that our lockdown restrictions are easing, most people are starting to go back to their unsustainable pre-lockdown habits.
That’s a sobering thought.
But what about our carbon footprint?
Having a small ecological footprint is all well and good, but what if our carbon footprint is still contributing to global warming. So we then sat down and took the carbon footprint test; this time the news wasn’t so good.
Although our carbon footprint is lower than the average Australian, it’s still way more than the average European, and way more than the world target.
The most frustrating thing about this is how little control we have over our carbon footprint. Because of the failure of successive coalition governments to reduce Australia’s carbon footprint, we still rely way too much on fossil fuels. And no matter how much I might try and reduce my carbon footprint, while we still produce energy from non-renewable sources, I might as well be trying to empty Warragamba Dam with a spoon. Because all the food I buy and all the goods I consume all rely on our outdated non-renewable energy sources to varying degrees.
So, What’s Next?
To achieve our goal of being carbon neutral, my wife and I have no other choice than to purchase some carbon offsets.
These are surprisingly inexpensive. From the quotes we’ve started to research, to offset our carbon footprint might cost us between $150 and $300 Aussie dollars depending on who we choose and what type of offset to select. But we still have some research to do before committing our money. We want to make sure we choose the best carbon offset for us.
But that will be the subject of another post. So, watch this space!