Living a low carbon life

Last week the BBC came to our house and filmed us for a story on a low carbon family that aired on the news last night. It also went on the web at The Aberdeen family embracing a low-carbon lifestyle. In some ways I feel like a bit of a fraud because I feel there’s more we could be doing and we’re higher than the global average but below the UK average.

The journalist was a bit generous when he described me as “rejecting fast fashion”. I do buy some clothes new but it’s true that I get as much as I can from charity shops and my wardrobes are brimming with second-hand clothes. He also didn’t mention in the article or on the news that all our electricity comes from 100% renewable sources. It’s very easy to do this in the UK because we have so many green energy companies to choose from and they’re very competitive now. You can even get a percentage of gas from renewable sources although I’m not sure how this works.

The BBC were at our house for quite a while and as usual just selected a very small snippet of what they filmed. One question Kevin asked us which didn’t air – and I’m glad of this because I wasn’t sure how to answer it at the time – is whether we think we’re making a difference. On the one hand the actions of a single individual or family are never going to solve climate change. This is a tragedy of the commons and it requires collective action. But on the other hand if I didn’t think I could help then I’d give up all hope and I can’t do that for Daniel and Elizabeth’s sakes.

What are we doing to reduce our emissions?

  1. We follow a plant-based diet.
  2. All our electricity is from renewable sources.
  3. We don’t own a car and walk and cycle everywhere. For longer trips we hire a car or use the car-club car.
  4. We buy clothes from charity shops as much as possible.
  5. We don’t got on holidays by plane and instead take local holidays in the UK.
  6. We have an allotment and try to grow our own vegetables.
  7. We try to buy local everything, where possible, and recently I’ve been avoiding stuff made in China.

Some of these things are not necessarily motivated by climate change. I have always wanted to live without a car because I despise sitting in traffic. I also like the physical and mental health benefits that come with active travel. The lower emissions are just a bonus. Taking local holidays, buying renewable energy, and growing and buying local where possible are deliberate actions. The plant-based diet is too, to some extent.

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