Reducing a carbon footprint

carbon-footprintWe all have to do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint.  The average carbon footprint per person in the UK is 10 tonnes.  There is some regional variation due to climate, quality of housing and access to public transport.

I had to go on a journey the other day and Amy needed the car.  Here are the journey details:

  • Bus, Forfar to Dundee Bus Station, £3.05 (30 minutes)
  • Walk Dundee Bus Station to Union Street stand, £0 (4 minutes)
  • Bus, Union Street stand to Ninewells, £1.35 (15 minutes)
  • I had to wait an hour for the appointment because the efficiency of the service got me there so early.
  • Bus, Ninewells to Union Street stand, £1.35 (15 minutes)
  • Car, Dundee to Newtyle, £? (25 minutes) – Amy picked me up on her way back from Fife and the four of us went back to Newtyle by car. Her average fuel consumption for her journey was 50mpg.

So that cost me £5.75 and just over an hour of travelling on public transport and a short stint in the car to get home.  What would that have cost me if I had taken the car?  I don’t know but I would have had to pay for parking at Ninewells and after factoring in fuel, insurance, road tax and servicing costs I could probably work out a £/day figure and £/mile cost for driving.

Jeremy Wakeford, an economist friend in South Africa, has written a post on just this topic.  He has implented an “economical driving policy” as part of his sustainable living drive.  Amy and I implemented a more sustainable driving policy and style after a number of things forced us to think about how we use our car: there was a show on Radio 4 about economical driving at about the time the fuel price started going up; our car has a current and average fuel consumption readout which, as a numbers watcher, I keep an eye on; we moved to a rural location where public transport is a bit thinner on the ground than in the city; we didn’t have enough money to support a second vehicle.

We drive a 2002 1.9 TDi VW Passat estate.  Driving slower, changing gears at 2000rpm and using an appropriate gear, keeping tyres at the correct pressure and using better (ie slightly more expensive) fuel has resulted in an improvement in average fuel consumption from somewhere between 30mpg and 45mpg to between 45mpg and 55mpg.  We regularly get over 600 miles (965km) out of our tank.

[Have a look at the Wikipedia page on fuel consumption and efficiency.]

So that’s one part where we are trying to make a difference because if we don’t it hits us where it hurts – the monthly budget deficit.  It also makes a difference to the bigger picture but we just need to get more people to do the same.  And stop burning coal on the fire at home.

One thought on “Reducing a carbon footprint”

  1. But moving to the sticks probably increases our fuel consumption considerably. I need more carbon neutral days where I stay at home and don’t use the car at all.

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