61% cuts on my personal Carbon Diet
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MY PERSONAL CARBON CUTS IN THE CARBON DIET
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TopicWeekExperiment
My general baseline for topic per person per year (KG CO2e)
My baseline before experiment for the year per person per year (KG CO2e)
My reduction from experiment per person per year (KG CO2e)
New carbon footprint per person per year (KG CO2e)
My carbon footprint once I switch off gas and buy an EV per person per year (KG CO2e)
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Waste2Baseline for housheold waste3333
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3Get 95% of paper out of rubbish & into recycling337
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4Get 95% of food & garden waste out of both bins2621
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Dog food5Don't feed my dogs beef25825864
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Flying6Cut overseas flights by two-thirds930620
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Winter heating*7Winter heating basline637
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8Turn down central heater to 14 degrees daytime / 10 degrees night637434
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9Insulate & draught proofing20357
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Food11Baseline for food1,044
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17Food waste348348100
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Supermarket swap - red meat once per month, white meat weekly, less cheese
1,044434
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Summer cooling19Basline summer cooling160
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21Passive cooling retrofits55
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Drinks22Baseline for drinks297
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23Drink less booze and no soft drink, more whiskey less wine29791
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Electricity24Baseline electricity (full year)1,265
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25Get off gas (baseline gas for full year)484484
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Flying26Cut domestic flights by two-thirds393393262
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28Lights & appliances1,265266
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29Hot water6512
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31Renewables932932
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Stuff32Baseline for stuff186
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33Clothes8180
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35Buy less, buy better, don't fly it in12598
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36Urban Transport baseline1,094
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37Active Transport1,094304
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Total6,3323,8372,4951,129
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Detailed spreadsheet calculations for each week's experiment uploaded in the 'Notes' section for that week on www.carbondiet.com.au
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Figures based on my audits and measured activity data multiplied by the best carbon accounting factors I could find - typically Australian or UK Government factors but sometimes from other sources.
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The missing weeks were either experiments that failed to reduce carbon or alternate options that can't be added together (eg. you can go vegan OR vegetarian OR do the supermarket swap, but you can't do all three at once and add the savings together). Alternate options and failures appear on other tabs.
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Notes
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Week 2. My data comes from my bin audits multiplied by National Greenhouse Accounts factors.
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Week 3. My reduction came from reducing paper waste in the bin by adding an extra recycling bin in my study & bathroom & switching over to more digital mail outs. We weren't throwing out much paper to start with so the savings are small.
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Week 4. My reduction came from better organics recycling, but we were already recycling well so the savings are small. I went a little crazy worrying about putting bagged dog poo in the bin, then realised this is a small issue in the big picture and also quite disgusting to remove and compost. Ah well. Knock yourself out if it bothers you but I recommend looking at other issues instead.
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Week 5. My household of 3 people has 2 medium dogs. Before the experiment, we fed them a vegan kibble for breakfast which was v low carbon, and a homemade dog food dinner that contains vegetables, rice, beef mince, yoghurt and egg. The beef blew out the carbon and the total diet generated around 774 kg CO2e for 2 dogs per year. I stuck with the vegan kibble and switched out the beef and used chicken instead and the diet now generates 582 KG CO2e for two dogs per year (194 kg CO2e per person for our 3 person house). The other big saving you can make is to own fewer dogs or smaller dogs that eat less. I've failed on both counts. Ah well. No one's perfect.
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Week 6. My reduction is based on cutting my overseas trips in half by taking one overseas holiday once every three years (not once or twice a year like I used to). I suspect I may fly even less than once every three years. Staying grounded is looking increasingly like the only ethical choice in a world that's burning up.
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Week 7. I calculated my CO2e for winter heating by looking at past bills to find out how much gas & electricity we use in spring versus winter, and concluding the difference is used on heating. This appears in Column E to avoid double counting, as overall baselines for total annual electricity and gas use are in Columns 24D and 24E.
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Week 8. We ran a fairly cold house to start with at around 17 or 18 degrees on the central heater. My reduction is based on meter reading data during my experiment when I turned the daytime winter temperature setting down to 14 degrees during day and 10 degrees overnight. We've stuck to that as we adapted fast, so we only turn it up when guests come over. Note that UK houses in the 70s and earlier used to be heated to 12 degrees or less, so it's quite normal to live at these temperatures.
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Week 9. I added some draught-proofing and we saved 74kg CO2e natural gas + 95kg CO2e for electricity for the household for the winter (I divided by 3 to get my per person savings). These were small simple DIY measures. If you added cavity wall and roof insulation and double-glazed windows you'd save much more.
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Week 11. I weighed and measured my food for a week and multiplied this by carbon accounting factors from an RMIT study. We've been eating flexitarian for years so our diet is lower carbon than the average Australian Molloy diet, but I was surprised at the impact made by some lamb and a big steak once each week. I'd thought we were moderate meat-eaters, but by picking red meat, I'd been doing it wrong for years.
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Week 17. 100kg CO2e food waste reduction to direct & indirect food waste emissions for me by careful shopping, some backyard produce and taking leftovers at parties and work catering. I also follow the 'ten steps to reduce food waste'. Regular dumpster diving or growing large amounts of home-grown food would save even more.
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Week 18. I still eat meat once or twice a week, but I cut out the Saturday night steak and we only eat red meat once a month now. We eat chicken, duck, pork or roo the other weeks. Our Friday night takeaway is less often than weekly and we pick lots of vegan and vegetarian dishes with one chicken dish, instead of the meat fest we used to order. I've also put the brakes on cheese - we eat it, but I've cut back on my late night cheese-on-toasts and I pick peanut butter, avocado or tomato instead.
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Week. 19. My house emits 1203 KG CO2e for electricity over summer and I've divided by 3 for a per person figure then multiplied by 40% as likely around 40% is used for cooling. This appears in Column E to avoid double counting, as overall baselines for total annual electricity and gas use are in Columns 24D and 24E.
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Week 21. I installed an awning, draght-proof doc door and some cheap window insulation and our electricity dropped & saved the equivalent of 110KG CO2e for the whole summer. BUT the heatwave also ended so I don't think we'll get savings that large. I've therefore given myself a 55KG CO2e reduction for passive cooling over the whole summer.
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Week 22. I measured my drinks for a week and multiplied these by emissions factors from a variety of sources. Rubbery figures warning.
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Week. 23. So apparently, I drink far too much booze. My reduction is based on cutting back to 8 wines + 4 whiskeys each week and cutting out all soft drink (I now mix whiskey with water not tonic and pretend I'm PJ Wodehouse). I still drink bucketloads of coffee and tap water.
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Week 24. My household electricity emissions are based on billed usage over past two years, averaged out, multiplied by NSW/ACT grid factors.
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Week 25. My household gas emissions based on billed usage over last two years, averaged out, multiplied by standard NGA factors. I took no reduction. I intend to switch my gas cooker and gas heater for efficient electric ones ASAP but I haven't actually done it yet. I'm saving up for this and an electric car.
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Week 26. My baseline domestic flight emissions are based on a return flight to Sydney and a return flight to Melbourne each year. My reduction is based on cutting this back by two-thirds. I'll take the bus to Sydney and cut down on flying by teleconferencing for work meetings and taking more local holidays.
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Week 28. My reduction is based on metered savings after I changed my light bulbs for LEDs, did an appliance audit and started turning off my computer & TV when not in use, changed my fridge seal and switched off the heater in my child's room.
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Week 29. My reduction came from timing my showers to 4 minutes once per day and reducing my baths and my child's. I already had a low-flow showerhead and already washed in cold water laundry and we also have solar thermal hot water, so the savings are slight for us.
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Week 31. I started out generating 1,265 kg CO2e per person per year from household electricity and cut that down to 932 kg CO2e with Week 21, 28 and 29 reductions. The ACT electricity grid became 100% renewable during my experiment so I get a full reduction for all remaining electricity use. Yay!
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Week 32. My baseline figures are based on a six-month audit of all the toys, furniture, household goods, craft supplies, clothes and sports gear we bought, multiplied by two for a full year, divided by 3 to get per person. I've used UK Government emission material factors to calculate embedded emissions as Australian factors don't cover this stuff.
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Week 33. My clothes baseline is based on my Week 32 audit. My reduction assumes I'll buy all clothes secondhand or from recycled fabric from now on. I already buy a lot secondhand so savings are fairly low but worth getting.
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Week 35. My reduction is based on buying 50% less stuff, buying the rest made from recycled materials or secondhand and using no air freight to ship it in.
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Week 36. My baseline includes urban travel and holiday travel to the beach. Distances are based on my car logbook kept for the past 18 months and some one-week audits for other travel habits. I've used tailpipe + embedded emissions to caculate emissions.
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Week 37. My reduction is based on me only driving our ICE car less, only when carting kids, dogs or cargo, and otherwise riding, walking and bussing. This still lets me drive 47 km per week, which is more than I usually drive but will let me get to the beach when it stops burning. I'm saving up for an EV which will get my figures even lower.
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