As part of Epigram's Green issue, the Travel Editors wanted to find out just how much they were contributing to global warming, and what they could do to change it.
This week, as part of Epigram’s green issue, we decided to measure our 2017 carbon footprint. We thought it would be a good way to take stock of the areas - food, home, travel - we can each improve on to reduce our carbon emissions and lead a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. We used WWF’s Footprint Calculator, a short survey available on their website, and then analysed the results. Crazy to think that, of all the ways you can increase your carbon emissions, travel consistently made the greatest contribution to the Epigram Travel Editors footprint last year!
Have a go at doing the survey yourself!
Although none of us were close to the green zone, at least we have a better idea of the environmental cost of long-distance travel. If you’re inspired, or shocked, by these results, feel free to do the survey online and check out our tips for shrinking your carbon footprint in our last article.
This is in no way an attempt to dissuade you from travelling - we believe the benefits can outweigh the risks - but it might help you travel more sustainably in the future!
Editor, Nick Bloom - 176%
According to WWF, I gave off 17.6 tonnes of carbon emissions last year. That’s the same as 18 medium haul flights. My carbon emissions are well above the UK average, and over 10 tonnes above the world average. Shocking, isn’t it?
A closer look at my carbon breakdown reveals that travel is the area which is making the biggest contribution to my footprint. I’m not surprised. Few have the chance to visit the US and Myanmar in one year, and multiple shorter flights to European destinations are bound to take their toll. My results in other areas, such as ‘home’ and ‘food’ are better, but far short of exemplary. I have a terrible record switching off lights and could take a much bigger interest in the local sourcing of my food and my meat consumption.
I could find a way to avoid taking a long, hot shower twice a day. It could be worse though... at least we don’t have a bath here!
Even if I’m guilty of high-impact travel abroad, I’m better in the UK. I’ve never got the train since I’ve been at Bristol and only go home by coach once or twice a term. I’m lucky that I live so close to uni and can walk everywhere. None of my flatmates drive; there’s no need to at the moment.
Try exploring Bristol for a weekend instead of jetting off to Continental Europe!
(Epigram / Ellie Caulfield)
So what can I do in 2018 to shrink my footprint? I’m planning on staying in London this summer - how I still haven’t fully explored such a wonderful city on my doorstep baffles me - and I only have one trip to Istanbul planned (kinda close, isn’t it?!). I’m eating a lot less meat for the first time in my life, mainly for health and financial reasons, but this survey has given me added motivation. We could do a lot more to recycle and minimise waste at home, and I could find a way to avoid taking a long, hot shower twice a day. It could be worse though... at least we don’t have a bath here!
Deputy Editor, Evy Tang - 316%
Oh my. 316%!!! My fellow editors may be way off the 2020 target, but I’m roaming a distant galaxy. I didn’t think it would be that bad! So why is my carbon footprint so much worse than the others?
Over 90% of these emissions were caused by my 2017 travel spree
Let’s break down the results. According to the survey, the decisions I made and the actions I took were responsible for over 30 tonnes of carbon emissions. Over 90% of these emissions were caused by my 2017 travel spree; I went on several separate trips to the Far East to visit family, went to New Zealand and took every opportunity to explore European cities like Berlin and Oslo.
A trip to Hong Kong for both Ellie and Evy definitely contributed to their carbon footprints
(Epigram / Ellie Caulfield)
So where do I go from here? Clean slate? Start attending environmental sustainability workshops at Bristol? Or wallow in footprint-fuelled regret? Looking at the results, everything I do aside from jetting off to Hong Kong is environmentally-friendly; I recycle, walk everywhere and eat well. But like many other binational students, my family lives far away and I can’t change that. I’m not willing to sacrifice my yearly visit to shrink my footprint, but I could definitely think about exploring the UK instead of hopping on financially cheap but environmentally expensive flights across the Channel. I need to remind myself that the UK has a lot to offer and I should make the most of it!
Ellie Caulfield, Online Editor - 170%
For once I’m happy I’m in last place, but my footprint is still much bigger than it should be. My biggest downfall was my travelling which contributed 59% and it’s clear why; I went on a trip to China, flew to Hong Kong and then went to Malaysia in the summer. I’ll always love travelling and I have big plans this year, so I’ve decided I’m going to make up for my footprint in other ways… Watch out flatmates, you better recycle your cans!
If I make lots of little adjustments, I reckon I can shrink my footprint
The average annual footprint in the UK is around 14 tonnes. That means I need to cut my emissions by around 15% just to be on par with most UK citizens, let alone the British government’s targets. If I make lots of little adjustments - from recycling and walking around Bristol to sourcing my food locally (there are so many great markets in Bristol, check out some awesome recipes by Riverford Organic Farmers!), I reckon I can shrink my footprint.
Before this issue, I never thought about the CO2 emissions that are released just because I want to go on holiday. When it comes to the environment, it’s so easy to be selfish: surely I won’t make a difference on my own? Even if I make an effort, other people won’t. But now that I’m aware of the small things I can do to try and reduce my footprint, I am definitely going to start giving them a go!
Featured image: Epigram / Sophie Sedgwick