‘Polly put the kettle on! or not?”

After possibly taking it a bit too far with our food challenge (Michelle gave up tea for 12 hours and it wasn’t a good experience for anyone involved!) We were looking forward to this challenge; we knew that it would be our defining ‘tiny action.’ On average the Environment Wales team enjoys a hot beverage 5 times a day. We only boil the kettle with the water we need as this really does make a difference to your emissions (take notes those over kettle fillers!) However, we do feel that often we do use the kettle too often. On average 14 grams of CO2 is emitted when boiling an electric kettle1 However, if you add to it one often key component ‘milk’ this then increases to 53 grams2. The reason for this is that milk (in the traditional tea usage sense) originates from cows and they contribute to emissions by producing emissions themselves i.e. methane 2. So, to take this factor into consideration we also had herbal tea with no milk as a ‘greener’ option. But first, before we could touch a drop, we boiled the kettle once and filled up Clare’s trusty flask with hot water and enjoyed our first ‘guilt free’ cup of the day. At least two hours passed and it was time for our second cup of the day. To our surprise the water was still very hot, not luke warm as I had anticipated. This was the cup I had been waiting for and it was great that we didn’t have to feel guilty about boiling the kettle or waiting for it to boil.

Time again for the math. So to break it down:

A normal day: Kettle boil x 6 (white tea or coffee, boiling only the water needed2) = 318g CO2 emitted.

Low carbon Wednesday: Kettle boiled x1 (white tea or coffee, boiling only the water needed2) = 53g CO2 emitted

Difference = 265g CO2 emitted. This is a huge difference only over 1 day!

Of course this does not include additional servings of tea or coffee with milk. Which did make us think about a herbal option, tea without milk or a milk substitute such as soya.

We really enjoyed the experience the flask provided us with i.e. no more waiting in line for the kettle to boil! I could live with that. This is definitely the ‘tiny action’ we will incorporate into our working day. Flasks really could be the future!

Source: 1 Carbon cost of Google revealed’http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7823387.stm                               

2 ‘What’s the carbon footprint of… a cup of tea or coffee?http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2010/jun/17/carbon-footprint-of-tea-coffee  (article cited ‘How Bad Are Bananas? The carbon footprint of everything Mike Berners-Lee)

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