ACT Now: Food, home energy, and climate

ACT Now: Food, home energy, and climate

‘Meet’ local people who have made changes big or small to their homes, and explore domestic energy use with experts Saskya Huggins from the Low Carbon Hub and Gary Irvine, freelance home energy assessor.

Do sign up in advance to access this workshop on Improving your home to use less energy, Wednesday 19 May 19.30-21.00.

All details on how to sign up are here:

For further information, contact Tom Leach.

If you missed the last session you may be interested in reading these notes or watching the video (link below):

Talking Food and Climate on 22 April

Third in a series of four climate talks organised by Low Carbon West Oxford on behalf of Communities for Zero Carbon Oxford

Q: Which has the largest carbon footprint?

tin of chickpeas


same amount of dried chickpeas?

A: On a supermarket shelf a tin of chickpeas has a much higher carbon footprint than a packet of dried chickpeas. With more processing, tins are heavier and have a carbon cost. However, once you include the carbon emitted when cooking dried chickpeas, these then have a higher footprint. Unless you use a pressure cooker or your house is powered by renewable energy!

The talk began by looking at the carbon emissions on our plates. Susan Hutchinson took us through some of the complexities of calculating the carbon footprint of different kinds of everyday foods, with the help of Mike Berners-Lee. His guide, How Bad are Bananas?, subtitled The Carbon Footprint of Everything, is a fascinating read for anyone who wants to work out the actual impact of what they eat on the climate. Susan outlined some high level figures for example that food production accounts for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Using an online voting tool we were asked to organise the following list of foods by the size of their carbon footprints:

1 kg locally grown apples, box of eggs, 1 kg shrimps, 1 kg rice, 1 kg greenhouse out-of-season tomatoes, 1 kg hard cheese, I kg beef steak, 1 kg New Zealand apples, 1kg bananas,  1 kg locally grown tomatoes.

What is your answer? You can find the correct order at the end of this piece.

Factors which increase carbon emissions include: storage (very high greenhouse gas emissions), air freight, methods of production (eg rice), processing required for any meat or fish or dairy.

Susan summed up the practical steps we can take:

  • Reduce meat and dairy particularly beef and cheese 
  • Eat more plants
  • Eat more seasonal, local food 
  • Eat less processed foodUsing another piece of cunning technology, Anais Bozetine (Replenish) asked the group to consider different ways of avoiding or reducing food waste.

Tips for avoiding food waste

Shopping: shop less, make a shopping list, plan menus, don’t shop when hungry, avoid ‘buy one get one free’.

Storing food: use airtight containers, freeze leftovers, store in order of use, check fridge temperature – should be 0-5 degrees; label food before it goes in freezer.

Meal planning and preparation: be creative (‘from recipes to guess-ipes), eat skins, stalks and leaves (‘compl-eating’), cook two meals at a time, ‘COF’ supper (‘Contents of Fridge’), store cupboard meals, use leftovers, use spare veg to make soup, measure quantities eg pasta.

Serving and eating: cook correct portions, use leftovers, use common sense with ‘use-bys’.

A useful list of online resources:

A-Z food storage

How to check the temperature of your fridge

Love Food Hate Waste recipes

How to compost at home

Replenish Oxfordshire supports Oxfordshire residents to grow and cook nutritious food with zero waste.

For more details from the talk on Food and Climate on Low Carbon Oxford North’s website

In Order

1 kg locally grown apples 160g CO2e

1 kg New Zealand apples 170g CO2e

1 kg locally grown tomatoes 400g

1kg bananas, 480g

box of 6 eggs 1.8 kg

1 kg rice 2.5 kg

I kg beef steak 8 kg

1 kg shrimps, 10 kg

1 kg greenhouse out-of-season tomatoes, 9.1 kg

1 kg hard cheese 12 kg

For a full video recording of the workshop:

Tom Leach

Sarah McKearney