How I fared during the first two weeks of my carbon-cutting journey

BlogUpdated: 21 July 2023Environment and Climate Emergency
Cllr Jon Tankard, lead member for environmental services, climate change, and sustainability

Breaking news! I have completely missed my Weekly Carbon footprint target 116.9kg! And I thought I was being quite green!

TARGET: 116.9Kg C02

ACTUAL: 191.53Kg C02

Since beginning my journey two weeks ago to cut back on my own carbon footprint, despite being mindful, I have managed to go 64% above my weekly carbon target. As the graph below demonstrates, every day I exceed the 16.7Kg daily average requirement, with a number of days one lifestyle element completely smashing through that ceiling.

In the last week, I think two major factors have caused such an overshoot of my carbon footprint.

Firstly travel. I’m a working man with a hybrid office job. Last week, I was more office based than home-based meaning that I was driving up and down Hertfordshire for work purposes for five days. This has had a dramatic impact on my carbon footprint, and something I will need to be mindful of.

My second highest carbon output was food. Who would have believed how much carbon a plain old cheese sandwich produces? For the next time, I will need to cut back drastically on my red meat and dairy and swap over to vegan alternatives.

NB: For breakdown click here.

I am a normal bloke, a husband and a dad with pretty average activities, but I am also someone whose job is to look at sustainable futures as a ‘green’ architect, so I thought that I did naturally make slightly more sustainable choices that the average man on the street.

For example, I actively avoid any food in plastic packaging, I buy higher welfare locally produced food, and I yet have been completely oblivious, to what’s inside the packaging and the harm it's doing to our world.

The results above are both a shock and a disgrace to me! Much of my emissions are through total ignorance of the carbon value in each of my meals.

In fact, at 64% above my WWF calculated rate, I am well above my required reduction by 2030 and am in fact currently actively contributing to climate change, quite literally ‘fanning the flames’.

As the information is not readily available, I cannot avoid, what I am unaware of, and the data contained in my diary breakdown is the result of hours of in-depth research into the emissions.

On a day-to-day basis, I do not have the capability to research this. Should more be done? Potentially a simple red, amber, and green carbon notification on the product would allow me to decide quickly at the source.

As the graph below demonstrates, travel dominates my weekly output, whilst my weekend consumption of red meat is my driving emission. The former may be more problematic to reduce, whilst the latter is a simple food choice.