Blog action day – climate change

You can make a difference – but switching off your phone charger won’t do it…

This year’s Blog action day is focussing on Climate Change – so here’s a couple of thoughts.

You know those stats about unplugging your phone, switching things off at the wall etc? Well the other day I figured out that if I unplugged the washing machine at the wall when not using it, it would save me ooooh… £1.65 a year, roughly (I’m monitoring our business energy use closely these days!).

Not a lot then. Not much hope of getting people across the country as a whole to take that sort of thing seriously either.

But how many homes are there in Britain with washing machines? Must be more than 10 million. Twenty million maybe? So £33 million pounds worth of electricity going on standby a year – and that’s just washing machines?

Hmmm. Maybe government should pass some laws about more efficient domestic appliances.

But if you think that’s a lot of money for little red lights in the country’s utility rooms, think about it a different way. The following is from Sustainable Energy without the hot air by respected academic David MacKay:

“The mobile phone charger averages around … 1W consumption, but if every one of the country’s 25 million mobile phones chargers were left plugged in and switched on they would consume enough electricity (219GWh) to power 66 000 homes for one year.”

66 000? Wow, what a lot of homes! Switch off the chargers! …… but 66 000 is just one quarter of one percent of 25 million. So… if you leave your mobile phone charger plugged in, it uses one quarter of one percent of your home’s electricity.
And if everyone does it?

If everyone leaves their mobile phone charger plugged in, those chargers will use one quarter of one percent of their homes’ electricity.

The “if-everyone” multiplying machine is a bad thing because it deflects people’s attention towards 25million minnows instead of 25million sharks.
The mantra “Little changes can make a big difference” is bunkum, when applied to climate change and power…. We all use power. So to achieve a “big difference” in total power consumption, you need almost everyone to make a “big” difference to their own power consumption.

Oh dear – that’s depressing. What to do then? Well, maybe a big change is tricky all at once, but you genuinely can make a difference.

Already turned down your thermostat by 1 degree? Cut down on those unnecessary journeys? Buying your kids good quality second hand toys?

biodigesters at Wheatland Farm Devon green holiday lodges Here’s another easy one, and you don’t even have to do without anything.

Eat your way to a better planet. Start by eating less energy intensive highly-processed and highly-packaged food-mile laden grub. The average Brit throws away 400g a day of packaging – mostly food packaging. The energy footprint of that is about 4 kWh/d/person.

And don’t throw food in the bin – give it away. Or freeze it, or serve it up differently with curry sauce, or whatever – as a last resort, compost it, or get yourself a cheap plastic biodigester that can take cooked food waste (some councils are subsidising them to around £10 a cone). You’ll save money.

And if everyone did it we’ll save on the lorry coming to take the rubbish, save on the landfill sites that have to be dug, save on the pest control, the …. Oh no, I’m getting carried away with the big number multipliers again.

Look – I reckon it’s pretty simply. We all have to make a BIG effort to USE LESS – of everything. That’s a good start at least.

And vote for a government that will help us collectively do the smaller things too.