Top new years resolutions include reducing carbon footprint

Brits vow to adopt green resolutions this year

James Carter
Authored by James Carter
Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2020 - 14:27

With the average Brit planning to make three resolutions for 2021, new research shows that a fifth of Brits (19%) have protecting the environment in mind when making their pledges. 

After an unexpected year for many, and a news agenda dominated by the global pandemic, it seems that as we enter a new year, the population is keen to focus its attention on the planet, with nearly half (47%) noting that combating excess carbon emissions is more important now than ever before.  

However, it’s not only those actively seeking to make greener resolutions that are helping the planet; many are unknowingly making resolutions with unexpected carbon benefits.  OVO Energy, the UK’s largest independent energy provider, has worked with the Carbon Trust to put a carbon value on some of the most common resolutions, and created a dedicated list of green alternatives to help the UK easily go green this January. 

There were some surprising results:

• High on the list of 2021 resolutions is drinking less alcohol. If the 23% (4,927,289 people) who pledged to do this kicked off this resolution by partaking in Dry January, they would collectively save up to 39,457 tCO2e, approximately the same amount of carbon emitted from over 37,000 flights from London to New York

  • If the one in five (20%) planning to eat less meat next year completely ditched meat for Veganuary alone, they could save up to 67.43 kgCO2e each, a collective 288,000 tCO2e - or the same carbon emitted from a staggering 271,036 flights from London to New York
  • Also sitting in the top ten is the pledge to reduce digital screen time. If the 22% of the UK who placed this on their resolution list watched one less film a week, over the course of a year they could save over 12,000 tCO2e, which equates to over 6,000 flights from London to Tokyo. Not to mention the hours they would gain to dedicate to more planet and mind friendly resolutions, such as spending time in nature (which 32% said they were keen to do), practicing mindfulness (21%) or cooking from scratch (13%) The full list of most popular planned New Year’s Resolutions for 2021 is: 

    1. Start exercising at home or outside 44%
    2.Eat more fruit and vegetables 38%
    3.Drink more water 36%
    4.Spend more time in nature 32%
    5.Drink less alcohol 23%
    6.Do more to protect nature 23%
    7. Redecorate my house 22%
    8. Reduce digital screen time 22%
    9. Reduce my carbon footprint 22%
    10. Start practising mindfulness or meditation 21%
    11. Eat fewer carbohydrates 21%
    12. Eat less meat 20%
    13. Replace my clothes with new ones 16%
    14. Visit more countries 15%
    15. Give up smoking 15%
    16. Sign up to a gym membership 14%
    17.Extend/ improve my house 14%
    18. Start a new skin care regime 14%
    19. Start cooking from scratch 13%
    20. Go to more live music/ sports events 11%

    For those resolutions that have a negative carbon impact, helping to combat this can be easier than many realise. OVO Energy has partnered with carbon experts to devise a list of simple alternative green resolutions that can be easily adopted from home and could reduce the nation’s carbon footprint by up to 1.34m tCO2e (for example, by not leaving their TV on standby). With 53% claiming they’d like to make their home more energy efficient, the list provides guidance on how to do this with minimal effort. 

From skipping one hair wash a week (a potential annual saving of 98,000 tCO2e if a quarter of the population did this, the same carbon as could be saved by planting 16 million trees), turning all appliances off stand-by (carbon saving 4.2 kgCO2e per household per month for TVs alone), to only boiling enough water needed for one cup of tea (carbon saving 0.49 kgCO2e per month), each of us can play our part to help towards decreasing carbon emissions with simple switches. 

Marta Iglesias, Associate Director at the Carbon Trust, said: “Many people may be surprised to see the different positive and negative carbon impacts of their resolutions.  We understand people want to make plans for 2021, enjoy new experiences or find ways to better themselves, and we hope that by having more information about the carbon emissions of their resolutions, people will be encouraged to make more sustainable choices

As one in five (19%) struggle to find resolution staying power beyond a month, OVO Energy’s alternative green list may just be the help they need. Especially as nearly half (48%) say they would be more likely to keep them up if they were simple and easy, and one in four (25%) would be incentivised if they understood how they benefit the environment.

And the 27% who feel the need to exaggerate their resolutions to appear like a ‘better person’ (a reason for 42% of this group), impress (37%) or sound like they care about the planet (33%), may no longer feel the need for such embellishments. Similarly, the 26% who have previously lied about how long they kept their resolutions may find they’re able to keep them up that little bit longer knowing the positive impact their changes are having on the planet.

Kate Weinberg, Director of Sustainability at OVO Energy, said: “It’s encouraging to see so many resolutions that are low carbon.  So many actions that are good for the planet are also good for us all as individuals.  It’s useful for everyone to know that making even one easy adjustment to your everyday activity can help to reduce your carbon footprint - if we all make small adjustments they add up and have a meaningful impact.  And there’s a feel-good factor from knowing you’re doing something that benefits the world we live in.””

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