CBC British Columbia
CBC Feeling the Heat

The Carbon Diet Menu

co2 footprint

For B.C. to cut emissions by one-third by 2020, our province has to go on a serious carbon diet.

There are things you can do in your own life, starting now.

We've put together this list of ten things you can start today to reduce your contribution to your footprint.

Try these actions now to reduce your impact.

Action CO₂ Emissions You lose in 2 weeks
(approx. CO2 equivalent)
CO₂ Emissions You lose in one year
(approx. CO2 equivalent)
walkingWalk to work, instead of a 5km car commute 30 kg 730 kg
bikeTake transit or bike to work, instead of a 25 km drive 140 kg 3650 kg
carEliminate three 25 km car trips per week 40 kg 1100 kg
meatCut the meat in your diet by 50% 70 kg 1800 kg
compostStart composting 10 kg 250 kg
thermostatTurn down your thermostat by 5 degrees at night 0.7 - 3 kg
(electricity vs. gas heating)
18 - 80 kg
(electricity vs. gas heating)
laundry dialWash your clothes in cold, rather than hot water 0.3 - 10 kg
(electricity vs. gas heating)
8 - 240 kg
(electricity vs. gas heating)
showerLimit your shower time to five minutes 0.5 - 7 kg
(electricity vs. gas heating)
14 - 190 kg
(electricity vs. gas heating)
laundryLine dry half your laundry 0.2 kg 6 kg
outletUnplug chargers and turn off power bars 0.1 kg 3.5 kg

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How did CBC choose the ten things?

A. Our list is inspired by several sources, including the UBC Sustainability Eco-Footprint survey, British Columbia’s Climate Action Plan, and BC Hydro’s Power Smart program. We also sought to cover a variety of areas that would broadly reflect the sources of greenhouse gasses produced by individuals (e.g. transportation, home and water heating, waste).

Q. How did CBC calculate the amount of greenhouse gas reduction from each action?

A. We looked for the best data we could find, relying heavily on information from Natural Resources Canada, Statistics Canada, and BC Hydro.

You can see a detailed breakdown of our assumptions here.

Q. Why did CBC decide to use averages – rather than telling me my individual impact?

A. Every person's situation is different, so it would be incredibly complex to calculate the precise impact of individual actions. Also, do you know exactly how many grams of meat you eat per day, or the average length of your shower? By using averages, we hope to demonstrate the relative impact of each action – recognizing it will vary for each individual – and the collective impact of people acting together.

Q. I don't live in British Columbia. Are the numbers accurate for my situation?

A. It depends on the calculation. We used data sources from Canada, and British Columbia when possible, so that’s where the numbers are most applicable. B.C. is exceptional among Canadian provinces for having a low level of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity – due to hydroelectric power. For example, electricity in Alberta produces more than 40 times the emissions per kilowatt/hour that electricity in B.C. does.

Q. Why don't you list bigger actions, like living closer to where you work, or cutting down on air travel

A.Those are important actions to take that can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. For this list, we limited the options to daily or weekly habits, which doesn't include moving or plane trips for most of us. If you want to read more about other long-term changes you can make, there are many sources online, including David Suzuki's Nature Challenge.