What the heck is a ‘two tonne lifestyle’?

I coined the phrase ‘two tonne lifestyle’ back in 2013, but I recognise that it probably won’t mean anything much, so I’d better explain why this is one of my major life goals and one of the guiding principals of the whole LiveLight experiment. Working towards a two tonne lifestyle has saved me over £90k in the past ten years, and set up a lot of good things. It didn’t start with money saving though, but rather a desire to do something positive about climate change. Here goes….

In essence, a two tonne lifestyle is a life that only produces two tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in a year. That’s two tonnes for each woman, man and child from all the major causes of greenhouse gas that are causing climate change. To put this in perspective, the UK average is around 15 tonnes. The USA average is around 20 tonnes, and the current global average is 5 tonnes. So two tonnes is not a lot. But it matters a lot because it is the only way that we can realistically limit the damage being caused by climate change.

All of the major sources of greenhouse gas are measured in this two tonne lifestyle. These are:

  • Home energy (electricity, gas, wood, oil and other fuel used to heat, light or power our homes)
  • Vehicles
  • Flights
  • Finance
  • Food and drink
  • Stuff  (non food purchases such as clothes, gadgets, toys, sports gear etc etc)

Wherever possible, all of these things are measured using the ‘full life cycle’ emissions, which includes the emissions from industry and agriculture that help them to land in your shopping bag or on your plate. So for example, the greenhouse gas from fuel you put in your car mostly made up of the fuel itself – but the drilling, extraction, and transportation of the fuel adds another 15% to the total. Even the car itself was made out of steel and other energy intensive parts. These are taken into account too.

The things that aren’t covered include emissions caused by work – so if you travel in work time, for example, via plane, then those emissions aren’t counted. The footprint also currently doesn’t include the government/infrastructure contribution – all the road building, hospitals, schools, etc which is a thorny, complex issue that I’ll keep for another time.

Why do it?

It just so happens that all of the things listed above are not just the major sources of greenhouse gas. They are also the biggest household expenses for the vast majority of people. So reducing the amount of greenhouse gas can have a major beneficial effect on your finances. More than that, it’s good to feel like you are doing something positive. It can lead to all sorts of major and positive changes to lifestyle, that I certainly didn’t expect.

For starters, I highly recommend trying the free LiveLight cost and carbon snapshot. It takes 5 minutes, and will give you a great starting point to go from.

Good luck!

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