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The unexpected top 2021 resolutions that can save the planet

  • The 4.9m (23%) of us likely to be opting for a dry Jan could save the carbon equivalent of 270 thousand flights from London to New York
  • One in five Britons (19%) plan to make resolutions that benefit the planet
  • 47% feel that protecting the environment is even more important in 2021 than ever 
  • OVO Energy finds that if we all add just one green resolution to our list, such as not leaving our TV on standby, it could reduce the nation’s carbon by up to 1.34 million tonnes CO2 (over 734 thousand flights from London to Tokyo)

30th December 2020: 

With the average Brit planning to make three resolutions for 2021, new research from OVO Energy, the UK’s largest independent energy provider, 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 has worked with carbon experts 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 280,000 tCO2e, approximately the same amount of carbon emitted from over 270,000 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 15.56kgCO2e each, a collective 66,000tCO2e - or the same carbon emitted from 61,000 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 1.34mtCO2e (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 98,000tCO2e 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 4.2kg per month), to only boiling enough water needed for one cup of tea (carbon saving 0.49kg per month), each of us can play our part to help towards decreasing carbon emissions with simple switches. 

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.”

To see OVO’s full list of alternative resolutions, go to www.ovoenergy.com/blog/lifestyle/green-resolutions-2021.html and pick one to add to your list for 2021.

 

-End-

Notes to editors
OVO Energy commissioned the online survey, conducted by Atomik Research among 2,003 UK adults aged 18+. The research fieldwork took place on 11 - 14 December 2020. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code.

OVO Energy’s Alternative Green Resolutions (with measurements 1-10  calculated for OVO Energy by the Carbon Trust)

 

  1. Turn off the lights and embrace natural light - Keeping the lights off could save between 14 and 84 gCO2e per hour
  2. Turn your laptop off every night – if a laptop was in sleep mode for the whole time it wasn't being used, it would result in a carbon reduction of approximately 3.25 kgCO2e per year
  3. Do one less hair wash a week - Washing your hair one less time a week for a year could result in a saving of 7.5 kgCO2e per year
  4. Unplug your phone once charged – keeping a phone charging continuously would result in annual emissions of 1.2 kgCO2e per year
  5. Use your washing machine/ dishwasher in the middle of the night instead of the early evening - running appliances at midnight compared to late evening (7pm) can save 8.96 kgCO2e a year for a washing machine, 13.12 kgCO2e a year for a washer dryer and up to 15.88 kgCO2e per year for a dishwasher
  6. Stop using the standby function on your TV and laptop - by turning all appliances off stand-by, the average household could avoid 50 kgCO2e per year.
  7. Only boil the amount of water you need each time - By only boiling the amount of water needed in the kettle each time, 5.82 kgCO2e emissions could be avoided each year per household
  8. Get a smart meter or smart thermostat installed - Installing smart energy devices (such a smart meter or smart thermostat) can help identify where people could reduce their carbon emissions, for example: by turning their thermostat down by 1 degree. With help from these types of devices, people could save up to 64kg CO2e
  9. Swap a streamed film for a book for  a book - an annual saving of 2.6 kgCO2
  10. Go meat free - a weekly saving of up to 15.56kgCO2
  11. Only eat ‘in season’ produce 
  12. Switch to 100% renewable electricity and carbon offset gas


Top new year’s resolutions and their carbon cost:  

  • Start exercising at home or outside 44%
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables 38%
  • Drink more water 36%
  • Spend more time in nature 32%
  • Drink less alcohol 23%
  • Do more to protect nature 23%
  • Redecorate my house 22%
  • Reduce digital screen time 22%
  • Reduce my carbon footprint 22%
  • Start practising mindfulness or meditation 21%
  • Eat fewer carbohydrates 21%
  • Eat less meat 20%
  • Replace my clothes with new ones 16%
  • Visit more countries 15%
  • Give up smoking 15%
  • Sign up to a gym membership 14%
  • Extend/ improve my house 14%
  • Start a new skin care regime 14%
  • Start cooking from scratch 13%
  • Go to more live music/ sports events 11%
  • Rewild my garden 10%
  • Volunteer for a charity 10%
  • Get a dog 10%
  • Move house 10%
  • Only buy second hand clothes 9%
  • Learn to play a musical instrument 9%
  • Start dating more regularly 8%
  • Become a vegetarian 8%
  • Write a book 8%
  • Help plant more trees locally 8%
  • Become a vegan 8%
  • Have a child 7%
  • Build a home-working area 7%
  • Get a cat 7%
  • Learn to drive 6%

Resolution: drinking less alcohol

  • For a beer drinker, reducing consumption by four units a week would reduce emissions by 574 gCO2e/week, a wine drinker would reduce their carbon footprint by 528 gCO2e/week, and a gin drinker would save 246 gCO2e/week. (Source: Carbon Trust)
  • Average person advised not to consume more than 14 units of alcohol per week (Source: Drink Aware)
  • 14 beer units = 528 gCO2 x 3.5 = 1.8 kgCO2 a week
  • 1.8kgCO2 x 52 / 12 = 8 kgCO2 a month
  • UK population of 52,351,213 adults 18 and over (​Source​: ONS) 

Population who are making resolutions (41%) = 21,422,997

  • 23% have made a resolution to drink less alcohol = 4,927,289
  • 4,927,289 x 8kgCO2 = 39,418,315kgCO2 or 39 thousand tonnes = carbon saving of 36,588 flights from London to New York (Source: BEIS 2020 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion-factors-2020)

Resolution: eat less meat

  • Depending on the type of meat, reducing consumption by 25% could reduce emissions by 1.42 kgCO2e/week to 3.89 kgCO2e/week with reducing beef consumption having the biggest impact (Source: Carbon Trust)
  • 100% reduced consumption (3.89 x 4) = 15.56kgCO2 e/week
  • 15.56kgCO2 x52 /12 = 67.42kgCO2 e/month
  • UK population of 52,351,213 adults 18 and over ​(Source​: ONS) 
  • Population who are making resolutions (41%) = 21,422,997
  • 20% have made a resolution to eat less meat = 4,284,599
  • 4,284,599 x 67.42kgCO2 = 288,867,664kgCO2 or 288 thousand tonnes = carbon saving of 270,194 flights from London to New York (Source: BEIS 2020 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion-factors-2020)

 
Resolution: reduced screen time

  • Reducing streaming of online videos by 1.61 hrs (the average length of one film) = carbon emission saving of 50 gCO2 (Source: Carbon Trust)
  • Over a year: 52 x 50gCO2 = 2.6kgCO2
  • UK population of 52,351,213 adults 18 and over ​(Source​: ONS) 
  • Population who are making resolutions (41%) = 21,422,997
  • 22% have made a resolution to reduce digital screen time = 4,713,059
  • 4,713,059 x 2.6kgCO2 = 12,253,954kgCO2 or 12 thousand tonnes
  • = carbon saving of 6,575 flights from London to Tokyo (Source: BEIS 2020 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion-factors-2020)

Adding just one simple, green alternative to your list can reduce carbon by up to 1.34 billion kgCO2 (over 734 thousand flights from London to Tokyo)
In 2019, there were nearly 26.8 million households in the UK that had televisions (source Statista Research Department.31 Aug 2020)


By turning all appliances off stand-by the average household could avoid 50 kgCO2e per year (source Carbon Trust)
26.8 million households with televisions x 50kgCO2 = 1.34 million tonneskgCO2
= carbon saving of 734,306 flights from London to Tokyo (Source: BEIS 2020 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion-factors-2020
 
From skipping one hair wash a week (a potential annual saving of 98 million kgCO2 if a quarter of the population did this, the same as planting 16 million trees

Annual carbon saving of skipping on hair wash a week = 7.5kg CO2 (Source: Carbon Trust)
UK population of 52,351,213 adults (18 and over. ​Source​: ONS) 
A quarter of population = 13,087,803
The average grown tree absorbs 6kg CO2 per year (Source: Carbon Trust)
13,087,803 population x 7.5kgCO2 = 98158524 kgCO2
13,087,803 population x 7.5kgCO2 / 6kgCO2 = 16,359,753 trees
 
About OVO Energy 
OVO Energy was founded in 2009 and redesigned the energy experience to be fair, effortless, green and simple for all customers. Today OVO Energy and its Retail partners serve nearly 5 million customers, all striving to deliver more affordable clean energy for everyone. OVO is on a mission through its sustainability strategy Plan Zero to tackle the most important issue of our time; the climate crisis, by bringing our customers with us on the journey towards zero carbon living. OVO Energy has committed to being a net zero carbon business and achieve bold science-based carbon reduction targets by 2030, while helping members halve their carbon footprint at the same time.