How Much Carbon Will You Pledge to Save this National Science Week?

Put on a jumper when you’re cold, cut your shower time, eat roo or fish instead of beef, cycle instead of driving. These are some of the small changes that you, your household or your school can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint.

Sign on at Carbon Counter, a countrywide challenge produced by the ABC Science for National Science Week. See what savings your lifestyle hacks will make and pledge to make a difference.

The Carbon Counter project – which launches on Wednesday 12 August – invites individuals, households and schools to pledge small changes to day-to-day energy, food and transport use with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas production.

A running tally of the tonnes of carbon saved shows the collective impact of you and your fellow challengers.

How much carbon could small hacks save?

  • Turning off the beer fridge in the garage could save as much as 400kg of CO2 each year – as well as cutting your power bill.
  • Choosing fish instead of beef once a week adds up to about 90kg of carbon saved across the year.  
  • Each year, Australians waste an average of about 300kg of food per person, or one in every five bags of groceries. Because rotting food generates greenhouse gases, cutting your food waste could save 118kg of CO2 per year.

Carbon Counter was put together by the ABC Science unit in consultation with sustainability experts from around Australia.

“If we were all to use electric public transport, cars, taxis, bikes or scooters, we could reduce Australia’s total emissions by more than 10 per cent,” said Dr Jake Whitehead from The University of Queensland. “And this could be increased even further if we used the spare energy capacity of the batteries in these vehicles to store excess renewables for use at other times”.

Associate Professor Karli Verghese from Melbourne’s RMIT University likes simple hacks for shopping, such as making a list and sticking to it to avoid buying too much perishable food.

“Because if you waste food, you waste all of those resources that went into producing it, in addition to any greenhouse gas emissions generated when that wasted food ends up in landfill,” she said.

Melbourne environmental consultant Dr Joe Pickin recommends dressing to suit the weather instead of turning up the heater or air-conditioner.

“Individual actions definitely add up – the enormous amount of household solar energy shows us that,” he said.

Professor of sustainability Peter Newman from Curtin University in WA said the cost of many household and transport hacks – such as photovoltaic cells and electric scooters – had decreased enormously in price over the past few years, making them much more affordable.

“All these technologies are also now much more efficient, and adopting them genuinely makes homes and cities much more liveable,” he said.

Environmental scientist – and ABC Gardening Australia presenter – Dr Josh Byrne also emphasised that carbon-saving tips and tricks lead to hefty improvements to creature comforts.

“Certainly, making these changes will reduce carbon emissions, and push down power bills, fuel costs and so on,” he said.

“But research is showing that what’s really driving change is the discovery that these things also result in increased comfort, better diets and better health.”

Carbon Counter is the online project for National Science Week 2020, undertaken by ABC Science with funding through the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia strategy.



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