A CO2 footprint is a measurement of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce through everyday activities. Of course most of us are aware that we can now calculate our CO2 footprint online. It’s largely just a matter of totting up our electricity and fuel bills.
To then mitigate our personal contribution to global emissions we can purchase Emission Trading Permits (ETP). An average person can emit up to 20 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. We asked sustainable investment expert Franklin Connellan to share some tips to try and minimise your CO2 footprint in 2013.
FLICK A SWITCH
Before going to bed, turn the TV off at the wall and unplug the washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, outdoor lights and the kettle.
TRADE IN YOUR OLD MOTOR
Check the fuel efficiency of your car. If it’s old, it might be more cost effective to buy a new one, which will be far more fuel-efficient and should have a higher safety rating. If you really need to use the car, keeping to the speed limit and a steadier pace will reduce your fuel bill.
USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Could you walk, cycle, or take the metro or ferry to work and beat the queues? Using public transport wherever possible - or carpooling - will significantly reduce your CO2 footprint.
CUT YOUR ELECTRICITY USE
Air conditioning consumes large amounts of electricity so with a little know-how you can reduce both your CO2 footprint and your bills. Set your AC onto a warmer setting when you are out of the house - even just a few degrees warmer will make a significant difference - especially in a large villa. Switch it off completely when you can during the day and then have it on only in the bedrooms when sleeping.
GET SOME GREEN FINGERS
When living in a hot climate, planting trees around your house will afford you some shade, reduce your AC bills and create a microclimate for birds to survive. It is thought a single mature tree can absorb CO2 at a rate of 48lbs per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings.
CLEAN UP YOUR ACT
Did you know if you wash your clothes in cold water rather than 40 degrees you could save 228kg of CO2 a year? You could also save 318kg of CO2 per year by having your fridge regularly serviced, keeping the surface clutter free and regular defrosting.
USE ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHT BULBS
Inefficient light bulbs are slowly disappearing from the shops and being replaced by energy-saving bulbs, which last longer. Fitting just one energy-saving light bulb can save you on average Dhs16 a year - so swap all the inefficient bulbs in your home for the alternative and save around Dhs300 per year.
You may no longer need that bed but perhaps you can re-use the wood to make a beautiful coffee table. Likewise, you may think you have no further use for your potato peelings, but create a compost box and watch your garden bloom.
FIRE THE TUMBLE DRYER
Hang your washing to dry instead of using a dryer and - where it might take a little longer, especially in winter - once they are dry they should be much easier to iron. An A-rated tumble drier used three times a week will generate over 160kg of CO2 per year.
BUY ONLY SUSTAINABLE GOODS
From environmentally-conscious clothes to furniture created from reclaimed materials, if you shop intelligently you can find excellent sustainable purchases. When grocery shopping buy goods sourced locally, such as the Local Harvest brand in UAE stores, which don't have the large CO2 footprint of imported goods.