What pet should I choose for a low-carbon lifestyle?

Pets can provide great solace and companionship, but they can also have a huge impact on your personal carbon footprint. The main reason for this is the huge volume of meat they can consume. When deciding on a pet, think about the pointers below…

  1. Choose pre-loved, rather than new. Pre-loved pets may be fed in a rescue or rehoming centre anyway, and so will already have their own carbon footprint. (The truth is that the rescue centre will very rarely have space, and so any pet that is rehomed just allows another pet not to be put down, so in reality, the carbon will not be reduced by rehoming, it will just save a pet from being put down.) 
  2. Choose a vegetarian, rather than a meat-eating animal. Rabbits are the perfect pets for being friendly, house-trainable but not too demanding on an owners’ time. Vegetarian pets can cost very little to look after. (Although I am biased, my pet rabbit is currently nuzzling his head under my foot as I am typing.) Gerbils, hamsters, rats and guinea pigs are potentials, or you could consider chickens, as they will provide you with eggs for the table with very low food miles and can be friendly.
  3. Consider their environmental impact. Cats will have lower carbon footprints than most dogs, but it can have a big impact on biodiversity by killing garden birds, amphibians and small mammals. Only choose a dog if you don’t have to drive it to go for a walk. My rabbit produces waste that can be added to the compost heap and is very good for the garden. They can also reduce how much you need to use a lawn mower.
  4. If you must have a dog, supplement meat dog food with some vegetarian foods to reduce its’ total meat consumption.
  5. Consider becoming a volunteer at your local rehoming centre before or instead of getting your own dog, as all those dogs need plenty of walks. If you can’t face going to the rehoming centre when it is pouring with rain and cold outside, then would you be wanting to do that with your own dog?
  6. Choose smaller breeds over larger dogs, to reduce the volume of meat required.
  7. If it is a choice between having children and having dogs, it is probably still better to go for the pet option.


BOOK REVIEW…This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the climate

This is the first book I have read by Naomi Klein and it came with a recommendation to stop reading everything and read this instead. The message she gave was too urgent and life-changing to wait. The lasting impression I felt is a feeling of appreciation for those who give their time to protest, and I was grasping the relevance of political participation more than ever before. Continue reading

What is the carbon footprint of drinking alcohol, and how can we reduce it?

Food miles for fruit and vegetables are widely discussed, but few people have the same perception of alcohol miles. Alcoholic drinks consumed in Britain have been calculated to be equivalent to 1.5% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, through growing crops, preparing the product, packaging, transporting, cooling and consuming.

The types of alcoholic products we choose has significantly increased the carbon footprint of our drinking habits over time. Below are several ways of reducing the carbon footprint of consuming alcohol.

1) Drink it British-style…Enjoy it at room-temperature.

Almost 50% of the carbon footprint from beer-drinking is associated with storing and serving your drink in a pub or at home.

In 1960, 99% of beer drank in Continue reading

Is it possible to clean the house and the body without dirtying the planet?

I have now been trying to reduce the clutter in my house for over 13 months and I have started reaching the end of cleaning products, shampoos and make up. I had a drawer full of plastic bottles, some of them probably a decade old, plus huge amounts of cleaning products under the sink. The majority of the products I owned were transnational mega-brands, mostly owned by Procter and Gamble. From now on, I will be Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW… How Much is Enough? The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life

Authors: Robert Skidelsky & Edward Skidelsky

ISBN: 978-1-846-14448-6

An interesting question that is never asked in our modern society. Because surely everyone wants more? “How much is Enough?” begins by looking back at how we set off on this road to growth, and how the economy has provided real progress to remove the risk of extreme poverty. In the developed world, we have succeeded. Crops fail and droughts occur, leading to famines for the developing world, but these no longer impact us. We can buy our way out of hunger. We have support structures that protect us from pestilence and disease. What we are now facing is relative poverty, one person’s wealth against another. We should be celebrating this interim success, by helping those who haven’t reached this level yet. But along the way, we forgot where we were aiming for. We are all still climbing upwards, but towards what? Economic growth and GDP are the only measures that politicians believe we are interested in, and so we continue without an end. Written in 2012 after several years of economic depression, the authors review Keynes’ attempt to foresee the future of work and poverty as he saw it from the depths of the 1930s recession. Keynes saw the use of capitalism as a necessary evil in order to reach the point when we would get the results we were after. When we reached this point of abundance for all, when our ‘needs’ were met, we would reduce our working hours accordingly. Greater mechanization would mean less work would be required to create products, and so we would have more time for leisure, and life. Whilst Keynes’ predicted many drivers correctly over time, he underestimated the insatiable growth of ‘desires’ to replace our dwindling list of ‘needs’. The twentieth century saw the introduction of advertising to teach consumers to buy because of our desires, rather than our needs. We no longer had natural or moral limits to our greed. (You might really like eating cheesecake, but there is still a natural limit to consumption. With greed for money, this limit doesn’t exist.) Greed and competitive consumption were encouraged, and the concept of avarice, as one of the seven deadly sins was buried. Conspicuous consumption had become a requirement for modern living, rather than an embarrassment. Continue reading

Reduce Consumption: declutter your life

Step 1: Understand your enemy

Firstly, you must keep in mind the importance of space and the unimportance of stuff. I borrowed The Story of Stuff from the library, to help the process (see the video version here). The idea is simple. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW….Oil: A concise guide to the most important product on earth

Author: Matthew Yeomans

ISBN: 1-59558-028-X

This is Matthew Yeomans’ essential guide to a product that now rules every aspect of our lives. The book aims to highlight the enormous influence we have allowed oil to have on our standard of living. In so doing, we are provided with the knowledge of what the future holds if we can’t break free.

The book commences with a race through the last 150 years of oil growth and dependency in 30 short pages. The aim is to show that this timeframe is a blink-of-the-eye in terms of human Continue reading