Climate-neutral living in everyday life – how does that actually work?

Climate neutrality is on everyone's lips these days and many brands advertise with climate-neutral products. But what exactly does "climate neutral" mean? And how can each and every one of us live climate-neutrally and save CO2?

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klimaneutrale Kleidung
© Forenius / #221401315 - stock.adobe.com
Our contribution to climate protection: CO2 compensation and the creation of climate-neutral products and collections.

How is CO2 produced and why is it so dangerous?

Climate researchers agree: the more greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.) are produced, the warmer the earth becomes – an effect of climate change. If these greenhouse gases increase, e.g. through emissions caused by humans, we speak of the so-called anthropogenic greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide (CO2 in short) is produced, for example, by the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. In other words, mainly in the areas of heating, electricity, mobility and food. Per capita consumption in Germany is around 10.4 tonnes (the global average is around five tonnes). Extreme weather conditions such as droughts, heatwaves, heavy rainfall, floods and landslides but also rising sea levels, acidifying oceans and less biodiversity are the consequences of rapidly changing climatic conditions.

 

Quelle: https://go.nasa.gov/2Ij5mXn
With heat and drought, fires occur more frequently. The Global Forest Watch programme shows where fires are currently blazing in the world (snapshot of the 7 November 2020).

What is climate neutrality?

Climate neutrality means establishing a balance between carbon emissions and the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere into carbon sinks such as soils, forests and oceans. In everyday life, however, climate neutrality is usually simply understood to mean that activities or products do not cause greenhouse gas emissions, i.e. do not pollute the climate.

However, since very few activities or products can completely prevent climate-damaging greenhouse gases, the trend today is to save the gases already emitted elsewhere, i.e. to compensate for them. Offsetting means: a certain amount of greenhouse gases is emitted, for example, during the production of a jacket. In a climate protection project, emissions are avoided elsewhere with at least the same climate impact. In sum, global greenhouse gas emissions, therefore, remain the same – the gases emitted are “offset”.

 

Mount Kasigau im Kasigau Nationakpark, Kenia
Quelle: Ina96, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Mount Kasigau in Kasigau National Park, Kenya.

After all, it does not matter to the climate where greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere and where they are reduced. All that matters is that global emissions decrease overall. Therefore, a company can become almost completely “climate neutral” by supporting international climate protection projects. This possibility has been legitimised by politicians through the adoption of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol.

Is Sympatex climate neutral?

Anyone who buys climate-neutral products therefore makes a concrete contribution to climate protection. This is why Sympatex has also decided to offset all CO2 emissions that inevitably occur in the process chain of manufacturing our products. We work together with ClimatePartner for this purpose and offset our CO2 emissions through various climate protection projects, such as forest protection in the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor in Kenya. Many of our brand partners, including Vaude, Ziener, Zanier and bleed organic clothing, also opt for climate protection through CO2 compensation and create climate-neutral products and collections. This is how our brand partner bleed organic clothing succeeded in developing the world’s first completely climate-neutral and fully recycled outdoor jacket. And our brand partner Ziener is launching the first climate-neutral ski glove collection Ex4 this year, which is also made from recycled materials and completely PFC-free.

klimaneutrale Textilien
Quelle: Ziener
Climate neutral glove from Ziener's EX4 product range with Sympatex membrane.

How can I save CO2 and live more climate-neutral?

If you want to reduce your personal CO2 footprint, you should not only buy climate-neutral products but inevitably also ask yourself a few questions:

– Which electricity do I use?

– How often do I use cars?

– How do I heat?

– What food do I consume?

After all, it is the everyday things that ultimately make the difference. Around 21 per cent of CO2 emissions in Germany are attributable to our mobility. So if you want to do something for your climate balance, you should switch to public transport or cycling for short distances and check your car driving habits.

klimaneutrale Fortbewegung
© zinkevych / #217933647 - stock.adobe.com
Around 21 percent of CO2 emissions in Germany are attributable to our mobility.

A further 21 per cent of per capita CO2 emissions in Germany are attributable to heating and electricity – so our houses and flats blow as many greenhouse gases into the air as the entire transport sector. That is why we should avoid unnecessary heating through good climate control and adequate insulation and consider switching to a green electricity provider. Moving to a smaller flat also saves a lot of CO2. When buying new electrical appliances you should choose those with the highest efficiency class A+++, which can save about 130 kilos of CO2 per year.

Many people also produce large amounts of CO2 on their plates: after all, animal products account for the majority of CO2 emissions caused by our diet. Vegetarians and vegans, therefore, have a much better climate balance than meat-eaters. The latter has an average nutritional footprint of 1760 kilograms of CO2 per year. Vegetarians have a carbon footprint of 1160 kilos, whereas vegans only have a carbon footprint of 960 kilos. More fruit and vegetables are therefore the motto for climate protection.

klimaneutrale Lebensweise
© sonyakamoz / #254451278 - stock.adobe.com
Animal products are responsible for most of the CO2 emissions caused by our diet.

And those who still cannot avoid flying, driving a lot of cars or for ethical reasons want to offset their entire CO2 footprint for a year can also offset their emissions. Well-known providers for private individuals are Atmosfair, Myclimate or Klima-Kollekte. These organisations guarantee that the amount you pay to offset your emissions will be used to offset the amount of CO2 in various carbon offset projects.

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