Things you buy, like clothes, electronics, and even hobbies, all have their own carbon footprints. Consumption is a broad category, so at Spark Sustainability we have decided to distinguish between consumption of the kind that you need to survive, like housing and food, and other consumption. Concerning things like new clothes, the latest electronics, home decoration and choice of hobbies, we as individuals have a direct impact. In Western countries of high consumption, buying these types of products and services often account for over 25% of our personal carbon footprint.
Emissions from both manufacturing and transporting products contribute to our consumption footprint. When reading about the carbon footprint of the industry, we have to remember that the industry is usually producing something for customers. These customers are either states, companies or individuals, but in many cases the individual is the one finally consuming a product or a service.
Industries have emissions from their electricity consumption as well as from chemical processes which also emit greenhouse gases. For example, CO2 is a byproduct in the process of steel production. Steel is used in the production of washing machines and dishwashers, among many other things. Manufacturing uses around 18% of the energy produced globally. Clothing and electronics are examples of things we all buy, where the industries have a big impact on the climate. Clothing can be held responsible for about 3% of global CO2 emissions per year with 1.26 billion tons, including life-cycle emissions from growing cotton to tumble drying your clothes. The ICT sector can be linked to approximately 3% of global emissions and accounts for up to 10% of all European electricity use. Carbon footprints of services are often linked to heating of buildings where the service happens. High consumption also generates waste – you can read more about waste here.