Unilever plc

02/19/2021 | Press release | Archived content

Carbon footprints – now it’s personal

Spend: 4.67kg CO2/a day
Biggest carbon cost: food

Using the Capture app, my average daily footprint in Amsterdam was a healthy 4.67kg CO2/day.

As I live in the centre of the city, nearly everything I need is accessible on foot, by bike or by public tram powered by renewable electricity. This means that over the month I was tracking my carbon footprint, my transport footprint remained zero.

My diet was a much higher contributor to my daily footprint. I follow a low meat diet and am basically vegetarian 3-4 days a week. When I do eat meat it is usually chicken or fish but even in these conditions my food intake still contributed a hefty 4.67kg of CO2 to my daily average.

With hindsight I wish I had chosen an app that took more factors into account, as two major components were missing from my carbon footprint calculation: energy and my spending habits.

I purchase electricity from a green wind-energy provider, so my electricity use is zero emissions. My thermal energy, however, is from natural gas - so heating and activities/appliances that use hot water do have a CO2 footprint that I was not able to add to my total.

I was also not able to monitor my spending habits, which would have been helpful in informing me about how much my purchases were contributing to my carbon spend.

Nevertheless, and despite these limitations, at the end of the four weeks, I felt good about my carbon footprint and confident that with relatively little effort I could keep it within my daily 7kg CO2 target.

Then, I flew home to Texas …