How to save a planet

Climate protection doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 11 simple tips for how you can save the climate effectively. And how the internet can help you.

Content

  1. Wake up, climate change is here !

    To start
  2. 1

    It’s never been easier to leave your car at home.

    To tip
  3. 2

    How to avoid a quarter-ton of CO₂ in city traffic every year with one simple trick.

    To tip
  4. 3

    Alps instead of Apulia? Can you travel with a clear climate conscience?

    To tip
  5. 4

    Set all your switches to green power. The expense: A joke. The impact: In the gigatons.

    To tip
  6. 5

    Working from home is an active measure toward climate protection.

    To tip
  7. 6

    Heat smart. It’s easy and can even save you money.

    To tip
  8. 7

    The things you don’t really need. And why you still won’t have to make sacrifices.

    To tip
  9. 8

    Reduce your carbon footprint by giving things a second life.

    To tip
  10. 9

    Don’t worry: You won’t need to eat cabbage soup every day to save the climate.

    To tip
  11. 10

    Don’t throw it away yet – It’s so easy to rescue food, yet so important to our climate.

    To tip
  12. 11

    What about the internet itself? Isn’t it a huge climate killer?

    To tip

Wake up, climate change is here !

Forests are burning, crops are withering, people are drowning in disastrous floods: climate change has arrived – with a speed that has even surprised some client scientists. the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now expects global temperatures to increase by 1.5 degrees by the year 2030, ten years sooner than initially predicted. The IPCC warns: If we do not sharply reduce emissions immediately, we will fail to reach our target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees and the climate could reach a tipping point – with devastating consequences for our planet and for humanity.

We still have time to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, researchers say. But we have to act now: Average per capita CO₂ emissions must not exceed 1.5 metric tons per year. If we fail to limit global warming to 1.5-1.7 degrees Celsius by 2050, the climate will reach a tipping point and essentially put an end to the earth as we know it.

1.5 t11.2 metric tons CO₂

To live in a way that is compatible with the climate, we have to reduce our emissions to 1.5 metric tons of CO₂ per person and year.

According to Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, every resident of Germany is responsible for an average of 11.2 metric tons of CO₂ equivalent per year.

Whether you’re on vacation, out shopping, or commuting to work – when you travel, you harm the climate. You create 19 percent of your annual emissions on average through mobility. For the moment. Find out how digital helpers can not only help you reduce your carbon footprint, but also improve your quality of life at the same time. [Go\ directly\ to\ the\ Mobility\ chapter](#mobilitaet)
You create nearly a quarter of your emissions at home. Especially through heating. There are easy ways to reduce this figure. Three simple tips can help you save the climate from your couch. One of them even saves you a lot of money. [Go\ directly\ to\ the\ At\ Home\ chapter](#zuhause)
The largest emissions factors are your consumption and diet. These two factors make up around half of your carbon footprint. Simple tips and digital tools can help you go from climate devil to climate angel! [Go\ directly\ to\ the\ Consumption\ chapter](#konsum)

Start big !

How are we supposed to do that, you might be thinking? And where should I start? Only buy strawberries in the summertime? Don’t get lost in the minutia of climate protection tips. Start big! With the big three – the three areas that can make you a “climate saver” the fastest. After all, saving the climate has never been easier, because the internet helps you!

Mobility

Saving the climate on the go ? Sure !

01

It’s never been easier to leave your car at home.

Fancy a trip to the Baltic coast? Try it with the Blablacar app, for in­stance. A relaxing trip from Berlin to Warne­münde, for example, costs an unbeatable ten euros – with a certified driver. And you’ll help the environment, because shared emissions are halved emissions.

Your CO₂ reduction

CO₂ emissions in kg by car
kg CO₂ with a ride by train
kg CO₂ with a ride on a coach
kg CO₂ with a ride share
kg

That’s how many kilograms of CO₂ you’ll save on a trip from %s to %s and back by taking the bus instead of your own car. You’ll find ridesharing possibilities on the internet.

  • App BlaBlaCar
    Blablacar – Ridesharing and Busses

    It doesn’t get any cheaper or easier. You’ll also find ridesharing opportunities with certified drivers here. So you can sit back and relax while you help save the climate.

  • App Citymapper
    Citymapper – Your City Concierge

    Whether you’re traveling by bus, train, tram, bicycle, or using car/bike-sharing: Citymapper can help you get from A to B in many cities around the world, always recommending the fastest, simplest route – and takes rail strikes into account, too. The app even shows you whether you should get on the front or the back of a train to shorten transfer times.

-1,160 kg CO₂
That’s 1.2 metric tons less

I want to do more

A mid-range car with an internal combustion engine emits 2.2 metric tons of CO₂ over ten thousand kilometers. If you drive an electric car instead and ride your bike for short distances, you can reduce your emissions by 0.5-1 metric ton per year. And if you don’t have a car, hats off to you: Around 5-15 metric tons of CO₂ are emitted during the production of a single mid-range car. By the way: To make battery production more sustainable, Tesla largely uses solar energy from its own factory roof to produce the batteries for its Model 3.

02

How to avoid a quarter-ton of CO₂ in city traffic every year with one simple trick.

Imagine an app that gives you back two whole days' worth of your valuable time every year Surprise: It really exists! Because that’s how much time many of us spend looking for a parking space in major cities. To be more exact, it takes an average of ten minutes to find a vacant spot, according to a study by APCOA Parking. That quickly adds up to two whole days a year – two days too many. What’s more, we emit an average of 1.3 kg of carbon dioxide every time we search for a parking space.

Be smart: start using an app to find your parking space, for example, with the Parknow app. It shows you the street segments and parking garages where you have a high probability of finding a parking space in over 330 cities in Germany and Austria. To do so, the smart Parknow algorithm uses data from vehicles that drive through the city, combined with statistical data. The result: Green, yellow, and red markings show you where you’ll most likely find a vacant space at the present time. You can already use this feature free of charge in cities like Berlin, Duisburg, Hanover, Cologne, and Reutlingen. In addition, the Parknow app saves you from having to feed a parking meter, because you can book and pay for the parking space directly in the app.

-320 kg CO₂

That’s how much CO₂ residents of Germany can save each year by using apps like Parknow. According to a study by Shell from 2018, you drive around the block for a whopping 41 hours every year looking for a parking space. And you emit an average of 1.3 kg of CO₂ during every ten-minute search.

That’s 1.5 metric tons less
03

Alps instead of Apulia? Can you travel with a clear climate conscience?

Four metric tons. That’s how much CO₂ is emitted per person on a single round-trip flight from Frankfurt to New York. Reminder: 1.5 metric tons of CO₂ is the most we can cause each year if we want to limit global warming to 1.5-1.7 degrees Celsius by 2050 and leave a livable planet behind for future generations. You don’t have to be a math wizard to understand that we need to change the way we travel. But how?

Impact of a single long-haul flight

4 metric tons of CO₂ are emitted by a single round-trip flight from Frankfurt to New York and back. That’s nearly three times the maximum amount we can emit and still hope to save the planet.

Each person can only emit 1.5 metric tons of CO₂ each year if we want to avoid reaching a tipping point for the climate.

36%

With a single flight from Frankfurt to New York and back, you cause nearly three times as much CO₂ as you should emit the entire year.

Choose sustainable travel alternatives and help save the climate! The good news is that the internet can help. Whether you want to relax on the beach, commune with nature, or experience exciting cities; whether you're traveling alone, with a big group, or as a family: The platform goodtravel.de will help you discover sustainably run hotels that suit your preferences in many European countries. goodtravel features hotels with natural-style architecture, for example, or hotels that offer regional, organic cuisine. A similar website, biohotels.info, helps you plan your sustainable dream vacation nearly anywhere – from a car-free North Sea island to sunny Greece. Of course, the decisive factor for the climate is getting there. After all, you won’t just find sunny beaches on the Maldives, but all over Europe, too. So save yourself from the airport stress and travel regionally whenever possible – by train, bus, or rideshare.

Fly with a green conscience

If there’s no avoiding flying to your destination, consider compen­sating for your flight on atmosfair.de, for example – this platform not only calculates the carbon footprint of your trip, but also lets you offset it through a voluntary climate payment. This money is invested in sustainable projects, such as the construction of solar, wind, water, and biogas energy facilities. Along with the portals Klima-Kollekte and Primaklima, atmosfair was awarded the “Very good” seal by Stiftung Warentest, a German consumer organization, in 2018.

-482 kg CO₂

That’s how much CO₂ you can avoid by taking a train to the Provence instead of flying from Frankfurt to Mallorca. A train trip will produce just 86 kg, while the plane to Mallorca will incur a hefty 586 kg.

That’s 2 metric tons less
At home

A good climate starts on the couch.

04

Set all your switches to green power. The expense: A joke. The impact: In the gigatons.

If you’d rather take it easy and follow just one tip in this guide, then follow this one: Switch to green power. Most providers let you make the switch online in just a few simple steps. The impact will be gigantic: You can save nearly half a metric ton of CO₂ on average every year. It could hardly be simpler.

While conventional electricity from a coal-fired power plant emits 366 grams of CO₂ per kilowatt hour (according to 2020 figures from the German database company Statista), green electricity is truly clean, with a zero carbon footprint. And green electricity doesn’t have to be more expensive, either. You can even save money with the right provider.

Watch out for fraudulent labeling

Be careful: just because it says “green power” on the label doesn’t mean it really is. Unlike the “organic” label for food, “green” isn’t a protected term in the energy industry. That means any electricity provider can call their rates “green” and still give you coal-based electricity. Finding out who really delivers green electricity and who the rotten apples are can take some time. The seals “Green Power” or “ok power”, or even better “ok power plus”, can help guide you in Germany. It’s also important that a provider not only offers green electricity, but also pursues the energy transition through its own projects – and has been doing so for a while already. A number of institutions and web portals review green electricity providers regularly and can provide recommendations, such as the sustainability portal utopia.de.

-710 kg CO₂

You save around 700 kg CO₂ on average every year if you switch to green electricity. You can easily switch online with most providers in just a few steps. According to Statista, the average CO₂ emission of conventional electricity is 366 grams per kilowatt hour. With green electricity, the electricity requirement is generated in a CO₂-neutral way. Make sure you choose the right provider.

That’s 2.7 metric tons less

I want to do more

You can shrink your carbon footprint even more by reducing your energy consumption. You can save more than 300 kg CO₂, for example, by deleting 1,000 spam e-mails. That’s right – they consume electricity! Because they’re saved in a data center and cause 0.3 grams for each spam e-mail, according to an estimate by The Guardian. So open your spam folder and delete every­thing! The climate will be grateful. And do it regularly.

05

Working from home is an active measure toward climate protection.

Driving to work in commuter traffic has been proven to make you sick. It’s bad for the climate, too. Greenpeace calculates that the climate can be spared a gigantic 5.4 million metric tons of CO₂ if 40 percent of all employees in Germany worked from home two days a week instead of commuting to the office. A new study by Carbon Trust also shows how much CO₂ could be avoided by working from home just in Germany: an average of 700 kg CO₂ per person and year if we continue working from home 2.7 days per week, like we are doing during the Covid crisis.

-700 kg CO₂e

That’s how much greenhouse gas you can avoid per year by working from home an average of 2.7 days per week. That’s the result of a study by Carbon Trust.

That’s 3.4 metric tons less

I want to do more

When you hold an online meeting with your team from home, switch off video streaming. If you have 15 hour-long meetings per week, it will cause emissions of 133 kg CO₂ equivalent per year, according to calculations by U.S. researchers.

06

Heat smart. It’s easy and can even save you money.

According to Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, every resident of Germany emits an enormous 1.77 metric tons of CO₂ every year just from heating their homes. Up to 31 percent of this can be eliminated simply by retrofitting radiators with in­ex­pen­sive smart thermostats – as demonstrated scientifically by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in a simulation study.

Smart thermostats can be installed simply in just a few minutes, without needing a handyman, and the costs of the new thermostats are quickly offset by the resulting lower energy costs. What’s more, smart radiators are practical in addition to being good for the climate: They let you change the temperature via app, for example, even when you’re on the go. Automatic heating schedules are also easy to configure. After all, you don’t have to run the heating all night long to have a warm, cozy bathroom in the morning. From optimizing your heating profile to protecting your home – Smart Home from Deutsche Telekom is the solution for many everyday problems. Deutsche Telekom gives you everything from a single source, and if you ever need help, our expert staff will be happy to assist you. To ensure that your Smart Home data is secure, Deutsche Telekom stores it exclusively in data centers in Germany, where it complies with the country’s strict security standards. It’s a great way to protect the environment. Get on board!

-549 kg CO₂

You can save up to half a metric ton of CO₂ or more per person every year by making your radiators smart, as scientifically proven by the Fraunhofer Institute in a simulation study.

That’s 3.9 metric tons less
Consumption

We have enough.

07

The things you don’t really need. And why you still won’t have to make sacrifices.

An impact drill, a Phillips screwdriver, a rubber mallet – that’s what the assembly instructions say you need to assemble your new wall rack. You don’t have a drill? That’s great! Because you don’t even need it – except for 15 minutes of your life. For the rest of its useful life, it will just sit around doing nothing. The same applies to many other things you possess, from stepladder to bicycle pump to car: most of the time, all of these things are idle, gather dust, lose value, require repairs at some point, and are ultimately scrapped.

Yet all of these things have an impact on the climate, namely from the energy required to manufacture them. The result: Every German resident is responsible for an average of 3.8 metric tons of greenhouse gases every year solely from buying new products, according to Germany’s Federal Environment Agency. This means you have a great potential to something for the environment simply by adjusting your shopping habits. If you only buy half as many things as before, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint significantly. The good news is that you still don’t have to make any sacrifices, because you can borrow or rent nearly anything quickly and easily online:

Climate-friendly shopping

Sustainable shopping with artificial intelligence

Imagine you’re looking for a product online, such as a new pair of socks, but you want to buy one that’s especially friendly to the environment. Artificial intelligence will make this especially easy in the future: researchers at TU Berlin teamed up with Ecosia to create a green shopping assistant: “Koala”. Koala can find sustainable shopping alternatives for you with just a few clicks. Although it’s still in development, the second beta version for Google Chrome was published on August 31, 2021 for downloading and testing. As of press time (November 2021), Koala can already find sustainable smartphones, printers, laptops, headphones, shoes, jackets, dresses, t-shirts, jeans, and socks. The best part: Koala never stops machine learning and will soon be able to find climate-friendly alternatives in every product category.

-1,900 kg CO₂

Wow, that’s a lot: You can reduce your annual CO₂ footprint by nearly two metric tons on average by buying only half of the new products you normally buy. Accept this challenge and before you buy something in future, think about whether you really need it all the time or if it might be better to borrow or rent it.

That’s 5.8 metric tons less

I want to do more

You can really do a lot for the environment by not owning your own car and instead sharing one with others, for example, with “We Share” or “Share Now”. What’s the difference? A lot: The production of a mid-range car causes an estimated 5-15 metric tons of CO₂ emissions.

08

Reduce your carbon footprint by giving things a second life.

When you hear “climate killers”, do you think of planes and cruise ships first? Surprise! The fashion industry is a bigger climate killer than both of those combined: it is responsible for an estimated 10% of worldwide CO₂ emissions, according to information from the European Parliament – a real heavyweight.

The fast fashion trend makes this even worse for the climate: the fashion industry is launching new collections ever faster, making us believe that we constantly need new clothes. At the same time, residents of Germany throw away 60 percent of new clothes after just one year, as calculated by study authors in “Nature Climate Change”.

Wear oil and eat plastic?

People have an incredible weakness for clothes made of petroleum: plastics make up 60% of all new fabrics. And they are produced primarily from petroleum. From polyester shirt to nylon sports pants – we clothe ourselves with petroleum products. This isn’t only a question of personal health, either. Our plastic fashion has a double impact on the environment: A polyester shirt results in three times more greenhouse gases than its cotton counterpart. What’s more, our plastic clothes are littering the world’s oceans: Every time we wash them, we release hundreds of thousands of microscopic plastic particles from our t-shirts and sweatpants. According to an EU study, a simple scarf made of synthetic fabrics releases 300,000 of these microplastics, which then flow into the oceans through sewer systems. The result: 35 percent of the gigantic garbage patches (or trash vortexes) between the continents are made up of microplastics from our petroleum clothing.

These particles are then eaten by fish, which can end up on our dinner plates – a lose-lose situation. As researchers from the University of Arizona have discovered, nearly all of us have microplastics in our lungs, livers, and kidneys. They are even found in mineral water, and even if this is sold in glass bottles.

How to make a difference

-327 kg CO₂

That’s how much people in the EU can reduce their CO₂ foot­print on average by halving their purchases of new clothes. Ac­cording to the European Environment Agency, every individual in the EU was responsible for 654 kg of CO₂ emis­sions due solely to their textile purchases. What’s more, by not buying new clothes constantly, we will also make a major contri­bution toward fighting waste and pollution of drinking water.

That’s 6.1 metric tons less

I want to do more

In addition to clothes, we can prevent a great deal of CO₂ emissions with digital devices, too. According to Jens Gröger from Germany’s Oeko-Institut, for example, the production of a new flat screen TV causes around 1,000 kg CO₂. A smartphone is responsible for 100 kg. One way to shrink your CO₂ footprint is by buying a refurbished smartphone from Deutsche Telekom. These refurbished, inspected, like-new smartphones will be available to buy from Deutsche Telekom starting in December 2021. You can buy a refurbished TV or laptop from asgoodasnew.de for example.

Food

Achieving a good climate is like stealing someone’s heart: It goes through the stomach.

09

Don’t worry: You won’t need to eat cabbage soup every day to save the climate.

Tasty and good for the climate

The good news: You can make a major contribution simply by eating less meat. The dietary revolution has already started in Germany. At 57.3 kg per capita, meat consumption in 2020 was at its lowest level since the start of recording in 1989, according to the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food.

One in ten people lead a vegetarian lifestyle, twice as many as in the previous year. Two percent are vegan, which also represents a doubling of the previous year’s figure. In fact, according to a dietary report from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture, more than half of all people claim to be “flexitarians” – people who intentionally eat meat-free on occasion. That means there’s at least a 50-percent chance that your neighbor is already on board for the dietary revolution.

map

Happy Cow

If you have trouble imagining how good many meat replacement products taste – as well as vegetarian and vegan food in general – we recommend the Happy Cow app. It shows you the best restaurants, cafes, and stores for vegetarian and vegan food near you – no matter what continent you’re currently on. You can decide how strictly you want to filter your search: from “veggie-friendly” to “vegetarian” and “vegan”. There’s plenty to choose from. Why not give it a try right now? The climate will thank you.

-1,500 kg CO₂e

That’s how much you’ll save if you limit your meat consumption to 15 kg a year. Incidentally, that’s the quantity recommended by the international EAT-Lancet Commission. Or use a simple rule of thumb: Do it like your grandparents did – they typically ate meat once a week. Even better, of course, would be to eliminate meat from your diet completely. Oxford researcher Joseph Poore crunched the numbers: You’ll avoid two metric tons of greenhouse gases, including 670 kg of CO₂, every year by switching to a vegan diet. And if you still buy meat, buy local and organic. Air-freighted meat is the top climate killer by far.

That’s 7.6 metric tons less

I want to do more

10

Don’t throw it away yet – It’s so easy to rescue food, yet so important to our climate.

Imagine all of South America, all of North America, and all of Europe as one huge farm. All farmland and grazing areas. That’s essentially our current situation, because we need half of earth’s habitable surface just to produce our food. There’s only one catch: Nearly everything that we produce on the area of South America ends up in the trash. It’s no joke. One third of all food we produce ends up in trash bins instead of people’s stomachs, according to an estimate by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). That means we use a land area the size of South America, at great effort and with highly hazardous pesticides in some places, to produce garbage. From field to trash can. But that’s not quite right: we first fly and ship a large share of it all over the world before we throw it away – with Brazilian bananas and Argentine sirloin steaks, for example. Our current food waste represents a slow but sure death.

Not cool

Among foodstuffs, throwing away meat has the greatest impact on the climate by far. According to Germany’s Heinrich Böll Foundation, the equivalent of around 230,000 cows is thrown away in Germany every year – as sausage and meat products. We have to stop! So let’s get down to it – how can we do better? Easily, once again with the help of smart apps and the internet.

How to rescue food

Too Good To Go

Too good for the trash

Foodsharing

-500 kg CO₂

According to Environmental Action Germany, that’s how much CO₂ you can avoid every year by eliminating food waste. By the way, every German throws away around 75 kg of food every year. Hopefully that will soon be a thing of the past.

That’s 8.1 metric tons less
11

What about the internet itself? Isn’t it a huge climate killer?

Surf with a clear climate conscience

Can you cut CO₂ emissions by surfing?

-936 kg CO₂

By defining Ecosia as your default search engine, you’ll make an active contribution to removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. If you run just three searches every day, you’ll plant 24 trees a year, which absorb around 300 kg of CO₂ every year when fully grown. You can avoid another 636 kg CO₂ every year by using a climate-friendly streaming service like Magenta TV for 4 hours every evening.

That’s 9.1 metric tons less

I want to do more

Your new footprint

Welcome to the climate rescue team !

1.5 t2.1 t11.2 metric tons CO₂

Next steps

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