Media release: Australian Museum Green Guide

Reducing greenhouse emissions.

FOOD: 30% of all our greenhouse gas emissions come from the food we eat. We can reduce this figure by changing what we eat - and how much.

  • Red Meat: Cows and sheep need lots of land to graze on which often means that trees must be cut down. They also burp (a lot) and fart (a little), producing methane - a very potent greenhouse gas. Try cutting down or eating smaller portions of red meat.
  • Packaged food: While some packaging is necessary, some can also be avoided. A bag of individually wrapped lollies, for example, will have much more packaging than loose lollies.
  • Grow your own: If you have space (even a window box will do) you can grow some of your own food. This means no packaging and if you compost your waste, you can use that in the soil.

GOODS AND SERVICES: A further 30% of all our greenhouse gas emissions come from the things we buy. This includes clothing, furniture, appliances, books, magazines, tobacco and alcohol and toiletries.

  • Borrow or rent: Share things you don't use that often, like lawn mowers or camping gear, with a neighbour.
  • New Purchases: Do you really need that new pair of shoes? Simply cutting down on the amount you buy is the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Goods or Services: Services are nearly always are lower in emissions than goods - so going to a concert is better than buying a CD. A trip to the Museum doesn't produce much greenhouse gas, especially if you come by bus.
  • Durable goods: Purchase items that don't need to be replaced that often rather than disposable things that will wear out quickly.

ENERGY USE IN THE HOME: 20% of our carbon footprint comes from the energy we use directly in our homes. This is easy to measure - energy companies do it every time they send us a bill. It's easy to cut back too.

  • Heating and cooling: These are big energy users. You can cut costs by turning down your thermostat by 1°C (for heating) or turning it up (for air conditioning).
  • Insulate: Yourself and your home! Put on a jumper in winter and put some insulation in your roof. A window loses ten times as much heat as a wall in winter. In summer a window can add as much heat to a room as a small radiator, so use curtains to keep heat in or out.
  • Switch off: Especially that second fridge! Your fridge uses more electricity than any other appliance in your house. Older fridges are often much less efficient then newer one so switch off that old fridge in the garage until it's really needed.

TRANSPORT: 10% of an average Australian's greenhouse gas emissions come from transport - mostly from petrol in our cars.

  • Drive less: Around half the trips the average Australian makes by car are less than 5km. Why not plan ahead and combine a number of short drives into one trip. Or better still, walk or take a bike!
  • Share: For longer trips, the more people in the car, the less each individual's contribution to climate change. If you carpool for a quarter of your trips, you could save a tonne of greenhouse gas a year.
  • Drive efficiently: Smoother driving rather than speeding and braking can save up to one third of your car's greenhouse gas emissions. Keep your tyres pumped up to the right pressure and take out all the stuff you are carrying around unnecessarily in the boot. Driving slower helps too!

CONSTRUCTION: This accounts for the final 10% of the average carbon footprint.

  • Do less: Some construction and renovation work is optional - do you really need that new kitchen or third bathroom?
  • Think green: Use environmentally friendly building products such as straw, mud and wood.

For further reading, see 'Climate Change - What You Can Do About it' by Paul Holper and Simon Torok.
Figures supplied by the Centre for Integrated Sustainability Analysis at Sydney University's School of Physics
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