The CO2 result of our project
On our tour we recorded every single thing that we have consumed. Now, at the end of our project we want to find out how environmently friendly we have lived at that time.
Let us put the result in the beginning: Although we have been travelling in these 5 months, we managed to live less environmally polluting than an average german citizen does. By having caused only about 50 % of the CO2 Emissions of an average person, we reach a very important goal of our project!
We are especially happy about that, because we have been travelling, which so far had been the biggest CO2 sources of our lifestyles.
The easiest way to calculate and compare the energy expenditures or the pollution caused by our livestyles is CO2 Emissions or equivalents of CO2 emissions.
However we cannot calculate the CO2 emission associated to every single product we have consumed. But what we can do is compare our consumption behaviour with that of an average german. Here you can find information of the Umweltbundesamts.
By multiplying these yearly values by a factor of 5/12, we get the amount of CO2, that an average german would have caused in the time we have been travelling. (about 4,7 Tonnes of CO2)
Like the Umweltbundesamt (National office for Environment), we put our direct and indirect emissions in categories of mobility, electricity, heating, food and other consumption.
For each catagory we are calculating our personal emissions in order to compare them with the average.
(Note: For the catagory food we took numbers from this publication by the Umweltbundesamts , because they are more adaptable. This results in small differences to the graph above.)
Here you find how we got to these numbers:
On our tour we did not entirely do without other means of transportion than bicycles. We also took a few buses and took a ferry boat from Georgia to Ukraine to go around eastern Ukraine.
According to the Heidelberger IFEU Institut, buses cause 20 g of CO2 per person and kilometer.
Calculating this consumption for ships is more difficult. The Queen Mary II for instance causes huge amounts of CO2 Emissions, but our boat was a ferry boat. According to this source, a ferry boat causes 120 g CO2 per person and kilometer.
Our ride on the ferry was only few kilometers, but caused the most CO2 emissions.
Per person we get a total emission of 170,5 kg CO2.
For comparison: An average german would spend 1012,5 CO2 emissions for transport.
On our tour we had the goal only using the electricity of our own solar panels and our hub dynamos. We only had to break this rule twice and because of technical breakdown. (Converter). The charging of our laptop by 15 % and charging 2 camera batteries is so minor, however, that we are ignoring it for the calculations.
Of cause, for the production of our solar equipment and the hub dynamos, CO2 emissions are generated. But these are very difficult to estimate and they were also part of our purchasing before the tour. So we send these emission to the catagory other consumption.
To conclude: We did not use any electricity, whereas the average would have caused 317 kg CO2 by his electricity consumption.
Our tent did not have a heating system :-)
Only the hostels we stayed in might have heaters, but they were certainly not in use when we were there.
As hostel stays fall into the catagory of other consumption,anyways, we do not have any of the 712,5 kg CO2, that the average german would have caused.
According to the Umweltbundesamt (see "Die CO2 Bilanz des Bürgers"), the main factors that determine the amount of CO2 emission resulting from food are: (The numbers in brackets are the factors by which the basic amount, 1.13 t is decreased/increased. The numbers come from the publication above. The average of a german is 1.5 t per year):
- If you do sports or not (Of course we did intensively => Factor 1.25)
- How much you buy regional. (Only from Romania on (our last month) there were supermarkets. Before that we mainly bought directly from the producers or from small shops => Factor 0.9)
- How much meat you eat. (When we went out or bought street food, there was often (only) meat offered. In addition we wanted to discover the food culture of the regions we travelled. We did not only want to eat a plate of rice, also because we had a higher need of energy. However we ourselves never bought meat, so we had a mixed diet, which was meat-reduced. => Factor 0.8)
- How often you use deep frozen food. (Obviously we rarely did. Only occasionally for ice cream => Factor 1.0)
This leads to an overall factor of 0.9, which corrresponds to 423 kg CO2 in comparison to an average german emission of 625 kg CO2.
This amont is fixed and the same for every german. The source for these emission are among others in management, defence, infrastructure and education systems.
There is nothing to reduce for us in this sector and like every german we have an emission of 458 kg CO in our 5 months.
This sector is by far the most complex one. We indeed have a detailled list of products and services that we consumed, but calculating the CO2 emission for every single one of them for adding them up is very difficult as there are no information.
A quantitave comparison to an average german is also impossible as there is no detailled list of what an average german consumes.
The only thing that is left is comparing our consumption behaviour with the german average in a qualitative way and obtaining rough numbers.
Simply the fact that we had to carry every product we consumed on our bicycle obviously limited our consumption extremely. Reading across our Consumption list (Beware: All numbers are for 3 persons), you will most likely get the impression that we consumed in a very reluctant way.
We had 26 hotel stays, which would be a little bit more than average. Our hostels, however was quite simple usually.
The biggest part of our emissions, however is the purchasing of the equipment at the beginning of the tour. We bought a bicycle, solar equipment, tents, kitchen tools, ... which leads to CO2 emissions.
These products, however are not wasted, but can still be used after the tour.
After long consideration we came to the conclusion, that our purchasing at the beginning of the tour probably equals out our low consumption during the tour - As long as the tour equipment is going to be used by us or other persons after the tour.
Also our finances are about german average. Our expenses for the entire tour (equipment plus expenses during the trip) are about german average for consumption. (According to the data of the Statistische Bundesamt). Financial value and CO2 emission of a product is not necessarilly linear, but with that thought in mind we are probably not so far off if we assume that we consumed about the german average.
So we take the german average of 1562,5 kg CO2.