ByJay Bigford
4 min read

Tips for a happy and sustainable New Year

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year here at Yoke, packed with new business, babies and a refresh of our website. We have witnessed a lot of change, both here in the UK and overseas. It would be understandable if that might demoralise a team working towards positive change, but if anything, it has renewed our vigour and made us more determined than ever to keep aiming for a brighter, greener future.

Even in this uncertain political landscape, we still believe that real change can come about if we, the public, make positive, small steps in the right direction. To celebrate this renewed optimism we have invited friend, independent writer and researcher Nikki Jones, to share some of her top tips for some manageable actions we could all take in January to nudge us along in the right direction.

We sincerely wish a very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, to one and all from all at Team Yoke!

nikki jones


Nikki: I know it’s a busy time, but I thought I would take this opportunity to feed in to your New Year resolution making…. Below is information on calculating your personal carbon footprint,  personal actions for the new year, a petition calling for parliamentary review of the Hinkley decision, information from Greenpeace on a new solar tax (the heart sinks…) and possibly the last opportunity to invest in community on-shore wind.

Estimating your carbon footprint

WWF Calculator

I have looked at several websites for estimating personal carbon footprints. None are truly comprehensive but the World Wildlife Footprint Calculator does look at food, stuff and travel as well as actual home energy consumption. Here’s the link –  you can try it out on family and friends over Xmas lunch??

David MacKay’s Explanation

Here’s David MacKay’s estimate of an average person’s daily consumption, calculated in kWh. The stuff we buy, our flights and our heating and refrigeration are possibly the biggest shockers. Buy local where you can, cut the flying.


New Year Resolution ideas

If you are thinking of New Year resolutions, here are some simple things you could do over the holidays.


Switch to 100% renewable energy

Green Energy offer completely renewable gas and electricity. The Bristol Energy Company now also do 100% electricity, and the profits go to the Council so that money stays local. Well worth investigating. Good Energy, Ecotricity and Bulb all offer 100% renewable electricity and some renewable gas. Switching supplier really isn’t difficult – the good news is that these companies excel in customer service and they will do it for you. Most important, they are easy to communicate with. Personally I have only dealt with Green Energy and I can tell you that they make it very easy to monitor your consumption each month and compare with previous years – so, easier to take the 10% challenge. If you are already on a renewable tariff, do your best to recruit others – this is one simple way to help change the economics. 


One Degree

Turning your heat down 1 degree saves approximately 8% of your bill. A third of our heating is simply wasted – we heat rooms when we are not there or at times when nobody benefits. Have a look at the Centre for Sustainable Energy’s website for information and myth busting…


The Grid and you

Do your best to avoid putting unnecessary demand on the grid 4pm – 8pm on winter’s evenings. Some of the government’s plans for new fossil fuel and nuclear plants is to meet this peak demand so shifting consumption from these hours makes sense.


Find where your money goes

Xmas and New Year is a good time to write to your pension provider and ask for a list of your top ten investments. Explain that you are concerned about your money being invested in ‘stranded assets’, unburnable fossil fuels. Even if you are not in a position to follow through (a company pension scheme etc), just asking the question will add to the pressure on pension providers.


Palm oil precautions

When shopping, look for the sustainable palm oil signs:


Or avoid palm oil products altogether. It’s in our food, cosmetics, motor oil, shampoo etc. Producing palm oil in Indonesia is one of the major causes of global warming – not just the destruction of the forests but the burning of peat on which grow. Companies are now moving to west Africa to meet increasing demand.

Here is a great video from WWF introducing this topic:


Diet changes for good

Cutting meat and dairy consumption is one of the most effective ways to cut your personal footprint. Land use is around 25% of global emissions – and most of this is associated with livestock farming. In the UK, 70% of our farming land is given to grazing, and half of the remaining 30% produces grain for livestock. This just doesn’t make sense… With the over-use of antibiotics in meat production, there are now very good personal reasons to cut consumption. 


Community energy investment opportunities

There are several community energy schemes available for investment on Ethex and Abundance. One that I would like to bring to your attention – though I am not giving financial advice – is the award winning Awel Co-op in south Wales. The offer for their wind turbine project is open till the 25th December. 

Hinkley Point

A petition has been launched to get proper parliamentary scrutiny and a vote on Hinkley and Bradwell nuclear plants. They need 10,000 signatures to trigger this. Please sign and pass on.


Solar taxes?

I received an email from Greenpeace with the shocking news that the government is planning a big increase in tax for companies and schools that have invested in solar. I have written to my MP who tells me she knows nothing about this – I can only assume this is very preliminary discussion in government, and it needs to be stopped now. Although we definitely need the batteries to make solar more useful, the bottom line is that we need to double our generation capacity very quickly and this needs to come from clean sources. The batteries are happening. Now is not the time to put a brake on solar….

Thanks for all your interest and support over the last year. There is much to feel negative about but remember, it is the economics and not the politics that decides most issues. We can change the economics, even if the politics seem beyond our control. We are at the heart of the economy and our consumption matters – whether we buy and where/what we buy. 

All good wishes for 2017. 


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