Lockdown lesson: Carbon Footprinting

What is this carbon footprint people keep talking about? A carbon footprint is the term that is used to describe the amount of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) that a person creates over a year.  We create these gases because almost everything we do requires energy from fossil fuels to produce and so results in greenhouse gases. So everything, from the buildings we live in and use to the production of clothing, food, heating, travel and electricity has a carbon cost.  The average carbon footprint in this country is 10 tonnes, the world average is around 4 tonnes, but the worldwide target to combat climate change is 1.5 tonnes per person. So we need to work hard to reduce our carbon footprint. What exactly does a tonne of carbon look like?  This image here gives us an idea of the size of just one tonne of carbon dioxide, imagine how big the carbon footprint of you family or class would be! Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are bad for the environment because the gases get trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and cause it to heat up. Just small changes in the way we live can make a big difference to our individual carbon footprint. What we eat, what we choose to buy, how energy efficient our homes are and how we choose to travel all have a big impact on our carbon footprint.                                    
                                                                               Activity 1   Learn more about what your carbon footprint is by watching this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q7_aV8eLUE     Activity 2   Find out where your electricity meter is (ask a grownup to help you) and monitor how many units of electricity you use each day for one week. You might even have a Smart Meter which you can look at instead for clearer readings. Note down how much electricity you use on one day and then work out what you can do to make it less the next day.  This could be by turning off unused lights, remembering to turn off electric devices rather than leave them on standby or by only boiling as much water as you need in a kettle.  Write down or make a photo collage of what made the biggest difference in your home.       Activity 3   During the Coronavirus Pandemic we have had to change the way we live.  What things have you done in your household that have resulted in you producing a smaller carbon footprint? E.g. used the car less, made fewer trips to the shop etc.  Can you make a diagram of all these things?  Can some or all of these things stay the same as we come out of the pandemic?       Creative challenge: Now that you have learnt more about your carbon footprint, we would like you to have a go at designing you own environmentally-friendly house. So what is an eco-house? What is an eco-house? An eco-house is built in such a way that it reduces energy consumption and waste.   Things you might want to think about for your design could include: how to take advantage of natural lighting, how to collect your own water to use for watering plants in the garden or even to flush the toilet, how to generate your own electricity etc.   Here are a couple of videos to help you generate some more ideas about eco-friendly homes:   In the first video, meet a couple who built their own Hobbit style eco home in Pembrokeshire, Wales. They built their home from waste and natural resources rather than going out and buying new materials: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUxIN3FIvks You can find out more information about how they built their home at: https://tinyhouseblog.com/earthcob/simonshouse/   In the second video, you can watch what a child explain their model of an eco-friendly home they created: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eww0efCsuco   You can choose how to present your work. You might want to draw and label a picture or you may even decide to make your own 3D model, the choice is yours. Have fun designing and who knows, one day you might even use some of your ideas in a home of your own!         How can you help?   There is a lot we can do to reduce our impact on the environment. Here are a few ideas of how you can help:   Reduce – although we need to recycle and reuse items we buy we also need to really reduce what we choose to buy.Wasting lessHave showers instead of bathsSwitching to green energy sourcesBuying local foodsEating a little less meat and dairy producesUse local swapping or give away sites such as Freecycle or Olio and look to pass on items you no longer want or need.  

Find out more
  This short and fun video explains what a carbon footprint is and how you can reduce yours to minimise your impact on the planet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YseZXKfT_yY   Find out what other schools are doing to help save energy. How many of them do we do already? What else could we do to be more energy efficient?: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/52160277   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdiA12KeSL0   Look at your carbon footprint in more detail with the World Wildlife Fund carbon calculator – it also gives lots of handy tips https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/