May 30, 2016  Düsseldorf / Germany

European Sustainability Week: Focus on sustainability

Small steps – big effect

Each of us* generates an average of 10.6 metric tons of CO2 per year – equivalent to the CO2 emissions caused by driving 53,000 km by car. For this reason, we are focusing on “personal footprint” at the start of the European Sustainability Week. Do you know how easy it is to calculate your personal CO2 footprint? Find out more below, including additional information from an expert in this field: Dr. Christa Liedtke leads the research group “Sustainable Production and Consumption” at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy.

Henkel’s new footprint calculator

“How climate-friendly am I?” – You can answer this question in a few minutes using Henkel’s new footprint calculator. This tool was developed in cooperation with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy.

How can I calculate my CO2 footprint?

A carbon footprint is a measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that is caused over a particular period of time by a person or a company, or over the lifecycle of a product.

Henkel’s CO2 footprint calculator involves a set of simple questions about your lifestyle: Use of electricity and water, consumer behavior, eating habits, and mobility. The footprint calculator enables you to quickly develop a feel for how your daily behavior influences the amount of CO2 emissions your actions cause. And using this tool also helps the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy to conduct its research on sustainable lifestyles.

Dr. Christa Liedtke

Dr. Christa Liedtke leads the research group “Sustainable Production and Consumption” at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy.

Three questions to Dr. Christa Liedtke from the Wuppertal Institute

1. Does my CO2 footprint calculation provide enough information to indicate how sustainable and environmentally-friendly my behavior is?
A CO2 footprint calculator is definitely the most popular indicator of the effect that our behavior has on the environment. But there are also additional calculations to consider, including the calculation of how much space is used to grow food and animal feed, as well as consumption of water and other resources. From a scientific standpoint, it is sensible to combine all of these calculations to understand the full picture. The various effects are often very closely linked, and influence each other. That’s why CO2 footprint is a good starting point.

2. You conduct research on the topic of "sustainable consumption." What role do you think consumers have to play?
Firstly, I think it is important that consumers change the way they think. There is often the preconception that if consumers just had a bit more information they would start living more sustainably. However, the question should really be: What does our daily life require and how can we integrate sustainable behavior into the way we live? Realistically, nobody has enough time to gather detailed information about every single alternative. That’s why products have to be more sustainable – which means sustainable product design and development must have a high priority.

3. What advice would you give a consumer who wants to live a more sustainable life?
It is important to take one step at a time. You can set yourself a lot of targets, but if the project is too large it will become too difficult to implement. A more sustainable lifestyle starts with small steps. For example, you could take a closer look at your kitchen appliances and question which are really necessary. Around 90% of appliances are used regularly, so one alternative could be to lend these devices to friends – or not to buy them in the first place. Other very simple steps include drinking tap water instead of bottled water, and hanging your clothes up to dry rather than putting them in a dryer. The main thing is to make small changes toward a sustainable life rather than changing your entire lifestyle overnight. It is similar to running: You might only manage a few kilometers in the beginning, but you can then gradually increase the distance.        

What is the European Sustainability Week?

The European Sustainability Week will take place from May 30 to June 5, 2016. The aim of this initiative is to draw attention to the importance of sustainable development through a series of activities and campaigns. Henkel is participating for the second time.

*Example Germany