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THE IMPACT OUR HABITS CAN HAVE ON OUR PERSONAL CO2 FOOTPRINT.

Habits permeate every aspect of our lives, as we find routines and patterns that work for us, making these habits sustainable can go a long way to reducing our individual carbon footprint.

Words By Lukas Preining

08/11/2021

Humans are creatures of Habit, most of us dislike change and once we’ve established a pattern that works for us, we tend to stick with it. What we often don’t realize is that these choices we’ve made once and now continue to make without thinking can have a serious impact on, not just our lives, but also the lives of the people and environment around us. Climate Change is one of the most pressing concerns facing the world right now, and our Habits can make a difference in attempting to limit its effects by making changes to our lifestyles. Our lives are dominated by habits – how you get to work/school/university, what we eat, where we eat, how we treat our clothes and how we manage our waste. Of course it is far from easy to live a completely sustainable lifestyle, but without starting somewhere, we can never finish solving the problem of Climate Change. Here at Staiy, we have analyzed some of the sustainable habits of our staff, and calculated the difference that these choices make in comparison to the average consumption of everyone on the planet.

Reducing Plastic Waste

Plastic revolutionized the way the world works, affecting every industry and providing the means to solve a range of problems. Plastic allows us to keep food fresh longer, reduces food waste, allows for the creation of new medical equipment, reduces the cost and CO2 emissions of transport by providing a light-weight packaging material for both products and the vehicles themselves, and reduces the weight and volume of everything from a bottle of water to an airplane (theGlobalist). But for all its benefits, plastic has a problem when it comes to the end of its lifecycle. Plastic waste dumped into the Oceans creates a variety of hazards for marine life, ranging from choking and constriction by larger pieces, to consumption of plastic, leading to the animals’ eventual death, all the way to poisoning with dangerous chemicals released by plastics as they break up due to erosion (theinfographicsshow). Plastic bottles make up a lager potion of plastic waste, with an average person using 33.4kg CO2 worth of plastic bottles every year. Reusable bottles, on the other hand, cost about 1.2kg of CO2 to produce, so even if you have three of them, that’s still only 10% of the CO2 emissions generated by how you drink on the go. A far larger part of plastic packaging waste is plastic used to wrap/contain foods – including things like shopping for fruits and vegetables, as well as takeaway. If you use reusable containers for things like takeaway food or when shopping, you can save up to 356kg of CO2 per year in comparison to the worldwide average of plastic wrappers used for food.

Reducing Fabric and Material Waste:

Fashion is a huge contributor to global levels of CO2 emissions, accounting for 10% of all emissions, as well as 20% of the wastewater produced globally. How we treat fashion and the clothes we wear is a considerable aspect that drives this industry. ‘Fast fashion’, the concept of artificially reducing an item of clothing’s lifespan by driving rapid changes in what’s fashionable, leads the average American to throw away 37Kg of clothes per year (BBC). Clothes aren’t the only things with short lifespans though, furniture also suffers from similar ailments; due to many of the same issues as clothes, leading some to coin the term ‘fast furniture’ (reuters). When Fashion or Furniture products reach the end of their lifecycle, most of them are dumped into landfills or burned, since recycling them has become ever more difficult as the products incorporate a wide variety of materials and components, which have to be separated out (often a time-consuming and costly endeavor), before they can be recycled (BBC). In order to combat this waste, individuals can choose habits that increase the lifecycle of products – such as repairing damaged furniture or giving clothes a new life by either selling them, donating them or turning them into cleaning rags or other household implements rather than disposing of them directly. By making management of the end of life treatment of our clothes and furniture a habit, members of the staff here at Staiy manage to save up to 120kg in CO2 emissions every year.

Dietary Choices – Vegan Food

Sustenance is the basis of human life, without food and water we couldn’t continue to live. As the human population grows, we require ever-greater amounts of food to sustain the world’s population. This coupled with growing wealth, leading to more people wanting meat and complex foods, has caused agriculture and livestock farming to develop new techniques to produce more food faster, creating a serious strain on the world’s ecosystems. The world’s meat consumption leads to deforestation, releasing vast quantities of CO2 and causing a loss of habitats for wildlife (Greenpeace). What we decide to eat can make a big difference – in order to produce 1kg of chicken meat, it takes about 3.2kg of feed, a very inefficient means of producing food to eat. Furthermore, large quantities of meat are produced in factory-like farms, where animals are kept in inhumane conditions and pumped full of antibiotics in order for them to survive and quickly grow. A vegan diet, by definition, contains no animal products, and therefore none of the CO2 emissions associated with the production of meat and dairy. On average, vegan produce 406kg less CO2 per year, a significant difference, especially when compared to the other habits in this article – although a vegan diet also has the most severe impact on daily life, in comparison to other habits.

In conclusion, there are many things individuals can do, in order to reduce both pollution and their CO2 emissions. Concrete examples such as using reusable containers for food and drink, extending the lifespan of clothes and furniture as well as reducing our meat consumption, and their effectiveness, have been demonstrated in this article; but there are many more, such as shopping locally, eating seasonal foods rather than exotic or out of season fruits, and many more. Climate change is an expansive issue that spans the breath of human activity on this planet, and each and every one of us is capable of doing something to combat it and reduce global CO2 emissions in order to preserve the world we were born into for the following generations.