If there’s one thing that is going to cause a divorce in our household it’s plastic bags drying on the draining board. My other half hates them – he turns into Mrs Doubtfire just at the sight of them.
Luckily for him the school lunches have come to an end for another year and the washed out assortment of supermarket and birthday loot bags can finally go into retirement.
If only I could say the same for the vuvuzela – although, annoying as they are, they’re not going to cause too much marital strife on my part. I’m a World Cup fan.
However, I was shocked to read recently about the carbon emissions estimated to be released during the world’s biggest soccer fest. According to a study conducted by the Norwegian embassy and South African government, this year’s World Cup will emit 2,753,251 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s roughly equivalent to the amount released by one million cars over the course of a year.
The South Africans are taking measures to off-set the event’s carbon footprint. A rail network was built to move visitors to and from the games easing emissions from traffic and there are plans to plant hundreds of thousands of trees.
But, what can our soccer-loving family and others do to also help off-set this huge carbon sacrifice?
Starting with the television – I suppose we could turn it off completely but that would definitely make me the most unpopular person in Westport. So, the next best thing is to make sure it is really off when the matches are not on. A TV set that’s switched on for three hours a day (that’s just two matches a day without Apres Match!) and in standby mode during the remaining 21 hours uses about 40 per cent of its energy for standby alone.
When there’s the half-time stampede to the fridge, think about where your fridge or freezer is located. Placing them next to the cooker or boiler consumes much more energy than if they were standing on their own.
If, like my lot, your budding soccer stars insist on wearing different football tops for every game and then spilling Bolognese sauce down the front, try to resist using the washing machine until it is really full. Then, hang the clothes on the line. You can save over 35kg of carbon dioxide when you air-dry your clothes for even six months out of the year.
The ‘what’s for dinner’ chant is probably the most consistent crowd call in our house, World Cup or not. So, to put a lid on it, keep a lid on it … the dinner that is. Doing so can save a lot of the energy needed for preparing the dish. Even better are pressure cookers and steamers: they can save around 70 per cent of the energy required to cook the meal.
Finally, your house is coming down with newspaper supplements, match wall-charts and sports specials, make sure they’re all recycled. You can save over 120kg of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates.
So, enjoy a carbon friendlier World Cup at home. And remember, if your other half is gloating too much about his ascending teams, you can always bring the old plastic bags out of retirement. Guaranteed to get a desirable reaction.