Switching to an electric car without breaking the bank

Note: This is a personal story from team member Stefan

I just recently moved out of the city and to a town in the mountains of Sweden. Having always before been able to use public transportation, I found myself in a place where I now need a car to get around, while also being fully out of reach of any car sharing services. This is my story of researching reasonably priced alternatives for getting a car with the least possible climate footprint.

If you are able to use car sharing services or public transportation, you should always consider not owning a car at all. If not, read on to learn a few surprising facts that make getting a brand new electric car more reasonable than you’d think.

Note – make sure to top up your car with green electricity!

Requirements and options

I knew from the outset that the long-term goal was to get an electric car. I just didn’t know if our fincancial situation would support this right away. My partner and I make good money, but not by any means enough that we can afford to freely just lease or buy any car. We do, however, have the ability to increase our loans at a reasonable interest rate to be able to pay for a new car, provided that the purchase doesn’t turn into the money sink that new car purchases traditionally are.


We are looking for a car that works for typical usage. We’ll be driving both short distances and long. It’s going to be our only car. So what we end up with has to:

  • Have range enough to be workable on long journeys.
  • Be big enough that we can bring outdoors gear like skis and big backpacks on trips.

Getting into specifics, I looked into three categories of cars to consider:

  • Fully electric cars, new from dealerships.
  • Plug-in hybrid cars, second hand.
  • For comparison and as a last resort, lower priced regular gasoline cars, second hand.

The reason that second hand fully electric cars are not on this is that they’re very close in price to brand new cars (more on that later), and by going for a new car we would have the ability to get a tow bar that we can mount a bike rack on. If you don’t need a tow bar, there is a (small) market of second hand fully electric cars with long range (350 km/220 miles or longer). If you’re able to get one of those, you can make the financials for electric cars later in this post even better.

Go for a long drive without emissions

Plug-in hybrid cars

My initial thought was that plug-in hybrid cars would be the most reasonable option while waiting for fully electric cars to come down in price. But after looking into it, two factors make them less attractive than one would think.

First, if you regularly drive longer than the battery lasts (usually around 30-40 km/20-25 miles), you end up with a very thirsty car. Most plug-in hybrids are very heavy cars and have fuel consumption upwards of 10 l/100 km (as low as 25 mpg) after the battery depletes. For all but the very shortest trips, this defeats the fuel savings of having a battery.

Second, these cars are basically two cars in one that both need maintenance. In terms of maintenance cost, they are are, if anything, more expensive to keep running than even traditional combustion cars.

If you’re able to charge at home, drive almost exclusively within the short battery range and are strictly limited in purchase price, then maybe a plug-in hybrid car be a good option. Otherwise, I have a hard time justifying them as a way to reduce one’s carbon footprint. For us, getting an efficient combustion or non-plug-in hybrid car, would actually have been a better choice.

Brand new electric cars

Fully electric cars used to be crazy expensive, but this is fast changing. For sale right now with 350 km/220 miles of range or more in the most affordable price range are three models: the Kia e-Soul, Kia e-Niro, and Hyundai Kona Electric. Available for order this year and with delivery dates within a year you’ll also find the Volkswagen ID.3 and Skoda Enyaq iV.

All of these sell for around €45,000 (in Europe), but a few insights helped me realize this relatively high price isn’t as bad as it seems:

  • Many countries have government grants when buying new electric cars. In Sweden, the grant is about €5,800.
  • Maintenance, vehicle/road taxes, and, most strikingly, driving costs are way lower for electric cars.
  • Value depreciation is, as mentioned earlier, not at all as bad as with non-electric cars, especially when taking government grants into account. For the models I looked at, one year old cars with above average milage were selling for just around €5,000 – €7,000 lower than the brand new price after grants. This reasonably gets much better (on a monthly basis) if you keep the car for 2 or 3 years, but there are no numbers for that as all these models initially went for sale just last year.

The numbers

So let’s look at the numbers. All figures are yearly costs in Sweden converted to Euros. I’ve used the best sources I could find, trying to find actual maintenance costs from current owners and quoting insurance for these models for myself.

New Hyundai Kona ElectricSecond hand Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2017)Second hand Opel Astra (2015)
Maintenance€210€500€500
Vehicle/road tax€35€35€135
Insurance€350€650€350
Electricity1 3€380€3502
Fuel1€4052€1,360
Total€975€1,940€2,345
  1. Using the average yearly milage in Sweden of 15,000 km per year.
  2. These calculations assume 50% usage on battery for the plug-in hybrid.
  3. Electricity costs of 0.2 Euros/kWh.

At this point, before financing, we’re looking at a monthly cost of €81 for the fully electric car, as compared to €161 for the plug-in hybrid and €195 for the combustion car.

So you’ll have €114/month extra to put towards financing of the more expensive electric car. Even though this is better than one might think already, chances are that the €114 won’t be enough regardless of how you choose to finance the car. Which brings me to…

How to make the car free

More and more people want to drive electric and more and more people are looking to car sharing services to replace car ownership. So for those of us who have to own a car, let’s contribute to the other side of that equation and make our cars available for others to rent. Renters will look to the cheap-to-drive and climate friendly electric cars, and owners of those cars can use that income to bridge the cost gap compared to traditional cars.

Sharing is caring – also for the climate

Looking at the two big options available in Sweden, Snappcar and GoMore (also available in a number of other European countries), you can expect around €300-400/month for renting your car a few times each month. Together with the €100+/month you’re saving in driving costs, you’re now looking at upwards of €500/month in combined savings and income that can be put towards financing of the car. This sealed the deal for us, because depending on how much we rent the car out, we actually have a decent chance of having the car pay for itself entirely.

On top of that, we’re now helping others reduce their carbon footprints in addition to reducing our own.

Making the change to green electricity!

Is it finally time to swap to green electricity? This is how much of a difference it will make!

Swapping your standard electricity plan for a green one is perhaps the most impactful one-time action you can take to reduce your personal carbon footprint. This post explains why and how to do so with tips specifically for the UK, the US and Sweden, but the principles are the same pretty much everywhere.

Before we start – green energy is often disclosed as having zero emissions, but in this post and generally throughout our calculations, we assume 15 g CO2e per kWh to account for maintenance and grid operations – just to be on the safe side.

We all use electricity at home, let’s make it green!

UNITED KINGDOM

Average electricity consumption in the UK for a 1 or 2 bedroom house/flat is 2,000 kWh, for a 3 or 4 bedroom house 3,100 kWh and for a 5+ bedroom house it’s 4,600 kWh. This considers only general electricity use, and not gas consumption for heating and hot water. Using “regular” electricity in the UK which has an emission factor of 255,6 g CO2e per kWh, this result in CO2 footprints of:
511 kg CO2e for a 1 or 2 bedroom house/flat,
792 kg CO2e for a 3 or 4 bedroom house and
1176 kg CO2e for a 5+ bedroom house.

Comparing that to renewable energy, the CO2 footprints would instead be
30 kg CO2e for a 1 or 2 bedroom house/flat,
46,5 kg CO2e for a 3 or 4 bedroom house and
69 kg CO2e for a 5+ bedroom house. That’s amazing!

The market for green energy in the UK is similar to that of Sweden. The big companies often offer green plans, but there are also smaller suppliers which can give even better packages and other added benefits. Since homeowners in the UK often have electricity and gas from the same provider, it is worth considering the overall benefits of also changing to a supplier that offers green(er) gas.

T3.com is one of the the UK’s leading consumer lifestyle websites, and they have an up-to-date guide on the best green energy suppliers, as well as a guide on how to switch and a price comparison. Check out the suppliers HERE

In the EU, according to the Directive 2003/54/EC, electricity providers have to disclose source of the electricity (how it is produced), and the environmental impact, at least the CO2 emissions and nuclear waste. So you as a consumer can feel confident that you know the difference between the options!

USA

The average household in the US consumes 10.972 kWh annually, noting that there is great variability between states. Given that the average emission factor for electricity in the US is 456 g CO2 per kWh (again, with great variability between states), this standard home is responsible for emitting 4998 kg of CO2 per year! That’s almost five tonnes! Changing electricity provider to a green energy plan can make a huge difference here, and if you want to reduce your carbon footprint this action probably has the highest return on effort invested.

How? The first step is to check if your current provider offers a renewable/green energy plan that you could transfer to. Some power companies supply this as an alternative, it’s often referred to as “green pricing”.

If you want to change provider, you’ll have to find one that supplies green electricity in your area. The Center for Resource Solutions offers a database for Green-e certified renewable energy. Search for “Residential Renewable Energy”, you can also filter the results by state. Another alternative is CleanChoice Energy, also available in several states. If that doesn’t give you any good options, try a google search for your state/city and renewable energy providers.

Given the structure of the energy market in the US, not everyone can actually choose their energy provider (it depends on the state regulations). If you are still willing to go the extra mile for green electricity, you can purchase green certificates or “Renewable Energy Certificates” (REC). This means that you pay the price difference between the market price for regular electricity and the price for producing green/renewable energy, and you therefore contribute to financing sustainable energy even if you can’t have it served in your own home. The Green-e database allows you to search for “Residential Renewable Energy Certificate”, and if you can’t find anything there – Google is your friend.

Again, given the massive difference it can have on your carbon footprint, it is worth investing some time in! Especially given that once you’ve made the switch, you don’t have to do anything else!

Sidrap Wind Energy Park in Indonesia
We support a renewable energy project in Indonesia, but what about buying renewable energy at home too?

SWEDEN

In Sweden, an apartment uses on average 2000 kWh of electricity per year, and a house uses 6000 kWh for general electricity use. For heating and hot water, an apartment uses on average 10000 kWh and a house uses on average 15000 kWh.

For “regular” energy, the CO2 emissions per kWh is 338,52 g. This means that for general electricity use, an apartment causes emissions of 677 kg CO2 and a house 2031 kg CO2. If the home is also heated with electricity, the apartment causes emissions of 4062 kg and the house 7109 kg.

For green energy, the emission factor varies depending on the source, but a safe value to use is 15 g of CO2 per kWh. This means that for general electricity use, an apartment causes emissions of 30 kg CO2 and a house 90 kg CO2. If the home is also heated with electricity, the apartment causes emissions of 180 kg and the house 315 kg. This is a massive difference! The price difference is less than 10%. What are you waiting for?

How to move ahead: First check which provider you currently have. This is specified on your electricity bill (paper or digital), or you can check where the money goes on your bank statement. If you want to stay with the same provider, see if they have a green electricity option. Otherwise, you can do a Google search and see if you find a provider that is more appealing – either with price or with other factors, like sustainability. There are services like https://www.elskling.se/ where you can compare prices and filter for green electricity.

This is perhaps the easiest step to make a significant difference to your carbon footprint. Let us now in the comments if you’ve made the change and what tips you have for others!

Want to offset your entire carbon emissions? Calculate your carbon footprint and transition to a climate neutral life today!

Vote for the climate!

Many people feel small when it comes to climate issues. “I’m only one person, and the government is just not doing enough!” It is indeed very frustrating that we as individuals can’t just fix the problem completely ourselves. But the idea of democracy is that we actually do have a say in who decides for us, and we can choose those whose priorities are most in line with our own.

Given that in most democratic countries, elections for government only happens every 4-5 years, this is a major opportunity for citizens to vote for the candidate that can do the most good for the climate. Now, of course there are many different issues that are important to us in a presidential election. But make sure to take into consideration what the different candidates’ stance on climate policy is!

Voting is your way to make your voice heard

On November 3rd, 2020, citizens of the USA are allowed to vote for president. Unfortunately, the voter turnout is very low in the US – only 61,4 % compared to 87,2 % in Sweden. There are many different reasons for this, some being restrictions imposed on members of society, but IF YOU CAN, please vote and be the difference!

Politicians need people to vote for them, so they will prioritize issues and stances that they think are relevant to the people that actually turn up to vote. Imagine if only people who work in coal mines would vote – then it would be impossible for a politician to close down any coal mine. Rather, they would have an incentive to make the coal mine as great as possible, to keep the voters happy (assuming that they don’t want any change). When we have both coal miners and environmentalists voting, politicians have a strong incentive to close down the coal mine, but also to support coal miners in transitioning to better jobs, perhaps in renewable energy.

If we could get more environmentalists to vote, we could get more politicians to focus on issues like climate change. This would not eliminate other issues from their agenda, but we want them to focus on what is most urgent and try to find synergies between issues. As an example – if we prioritize air quality and implement measures that will provide cleaner air, people’s health will improve (numbers vary, but studies find that air pollution currently causes over 100 000 premature deaths per year in the US). This will reduce the burden on the health care system, and healthier people are more productive members of society. Win-win!

If you think it is hard to find the right information, NGOs like 350.org and Greenpeace assess politicians (in this case the candidates for the US presidential election) on how well they score on climate issues. This provides good guidance and based on this, you can read more to form your own opinion. You don’t have to agree with everything the NGO stands for to make use of their guidance.

How to know if you can vote in the US: check the US Government’s webpage explaining the requirements. If you can vote, you need to register to do sothe deadline is approx. one month before the election, but it varies by state.

Remember that there is definitely a lot that you can do in between elections as well. You can contact responsible politicians regarding specific issues, sign petitions, or demonstrate. Democracy is not a one time incident, it should be sustained all the time! Your voice has the right to be heard.

5 climate tips to reduce your carbon footprint

We give you five relatively simple tips on what you can do to reduce your climate footprint.

1. Can you choose green electricity?  Check if your provider has a green electricity plan for you! Either on their website or by calling them. This can reduce your emissions significantly! In the EU, your electricity provider is obliged to let you know the energy source (referred to as electricity disclosure).

2. Cut the meat in favour of a more plant-based diet. This can reduce your diet’s footprint by 50%. For more info read our “Meat eater’s non-dogmatic guide to becoming more vegetarian” and “How to reduce your carbon footprint from food”. Find vegan and vegetarian food inspiration at Sweet Green Vegan, Green Kitchen Stories, Plant-Based RD and A Vegan’s Paradise.

3. Skip the car – take the bike. In average an car in the US emits 5,4 tonnes a year while biking has no carbon footprint at all.

4. Take a free digital quick coursethe Climate Leader – to understand how you best take climate action.

5. Carbon offset your lifestyle with us and help accelerate the transition to renewable energy around the world.

How much do I need to reduce my climate footprint to contribute to the Paris Agreement and the important 1.5 degree goal?

According to the study 1.5 degree lifestyles (2018), globally, in the year 2030, we can emit maximally 2.5 tonnes CO2eq/person to have a chance of managing the decisive 1.5 degree target. In 2040, we will be able to emit maximally 1.4 tonnes CO2eq/person, and in 2050 – a maximum of only 0.7 tonnes CO2eq/person. Read more about this here.

Currently, the average American emits nearly 20 tonnes CO2eq per year.
Source: http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/us-environmental-footprint-factsheet

Climate tips to save the planet

Best (climate) reads for lazy summer days!

Working hard to stop climate change and making the world a better place is great everyday life. But even heroes need holidays, to recharge the batteries and enjoy the small things around us. Stopping to smell a flower, having a cup of coffee in no rush at all, maybe even turning off the phone. Taking a break from the digital world can be so refreshing! And when you do that, what better way to spend time than with a book? We at GoClimate have a diverse taste in books, but we decided to present some related to climate change.

GoClimate enjoying books!

(Two years ago we did another blog post about this, find it HERE)

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Gosh. The Indian novelist wrote his first non-fictional book in 20 years on the topic of climate change, highlighting the cultural shift that is needed to address this issue. Climate chance is not too unrealistic to be portrayed in popculture anymore.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural Story by Elizabeth Kolbert (US). This book has been very praised for how it narrates the story of the process we are currently living in, and how humans are the protagonists in this.

The Sixth Extinction

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action by Per Espen Stoknes. This is perhaps the most facts-y book on the list, where the Norwegian Psychologist identifies psychological barriers to climate action, and addresses them with concrete strategies. Now that we know what we know, how do we handle that? He also gave a TED talk on the topic!

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate and On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein (Canada). This Changes everything was published in 2016, presenting a strong argument for the links between climate change and the current free market economy. This book has had a monumental impact on the climate movement, and its sequel is explaining how bold climate action can be a blueprint for a just and thriving society.

We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast  by Jonathan Safron Foer. This American author has previously produced both fiction and the arguably best book on veganism: Eating Animals. The book is a peculiar and personal take on climate change and our diets, and worth it because the writing and randomly connected thoughts are so poignant.

We are the Weather

Oryx and Crake and The year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (Canada). Known for an extensive body of literature (for example, The Handmaid’s Tale), Atwood is building the Maddaddam Trilogy on a backdrop of climate change. Perhaps more relaxing than the fact-filled books!

Tentacle by Rita Indiana (Dominican Rep). Not all climate books are non-fiction! This is a novel built on Caribbean storytelling, covering climate change, Yoruba rituals, time travel, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Try something new!

Tentacle

What are you reading this summer? Drop us a comment below!

Methodology behind the carbon footprint calculator

There are different ways to calculate the carbon footprint of an individual. If you have tried out more than one calculator, you have probably noticed that the questions differ and so do the results. The quick answer to this is that it depends on which data the calculator is based off, and what assumptions are made. For the GoClimate calculator, we have explained the rationale between the choice of underlying data and the calculations that we base the tool on in the Methodology, which can be accessed HERE

If there is anything in the methodology that you find questionable, please reach out to us! Let us know if you disagree, have a better source of data for something, or how we could improve. The calculator will change over time because emission factors are updated regularly, which means that your result can change in the future. It could also change if we find better data or an even better way to calculate. These adjustments are however most likely minimal, and the biggest change is what you do yourself!

We calculate Food with general values from a UK study, Flights are calculated with our own API, Car with emission factors provided by national sources (so that differs depending on where you are), and Housing are the most complex calculations based on national data on energy and electricity usage and national emission factors. To this, we add a national average for Personal consumption which is the clothes, furniture and other things you purchase, and a buffer for Public consumption which is infrastructure, hospitals, education etc.

Go to our main page to try the calculator for yourself – and compare your result to your national average!

Civil disobedience for the climate?

Civil disobedience is something that is not very common in Sweden, and is associated with being rowdy and uncompromising. Many believe that we have a well-functioning society where it is the individual’s duty to follow the law and maintain order. Can that be true, while there are also reasons to not comply? If so, could the climate be such an issue? We at GoClimate believe that the climate crisis is so big that we need to explore all ways to act on it, and with this post we want to inform about one method already applied, both to create understanding of it and at the same time inspire one another to find new ways to get engaged that suits everyone.

Civil disobedience is defined as the citizen’s active refusal to comply with a law or an order from the government, in order to change society. It is a non-violent method to highlight that something in society is morally wrong, and therefore one does not agree to be involved in it. Resorting to civil disobedience as a method can be seen as a last resort, when the formal paths to drive change have not worked.

Peaceful demonstration against climate change

What can be important to bear in mind when considering whether civil disobedience is a good or bad method of social change, is that it is difficult to imagine a change before it has happened. What would the United States look like without slavery? How would England work if women were allowed to vote? Today, we generally agree that slavery is wrong and voting rights are a right regardless of gender, and using that reasoning we must also assume that in a hundred years’ time our grandchildren will be living in a society that has undergone even more changes. Moreover, the pace of change seems to be accelerating rather than slowing down, so it is reasonable to believe that we are not living in the most highly developed form of a human society yet.

What has civil disobedience actually accomplished historically? Perhaps the most well-known example is Mahatma Ghandi’s struggle for India’s independence from British colonial power, which included a long march in which he broke the salt law. Another person who today is praised for her courage is Rosa Parks, who refused to leave her seat on the bus in Montgomery to let a white passenger sit. Women’s suffrage is another example of what has been accomplished, however that struggle did involve violence. It can thus be individuals as well as groups and movements who perform civil disobedience, but neither Ghandi nor Parks acted alone.

More and more people gather to demonstrate for a societal change towards a sustainable planet

In 2018, Greta Thunberg sat down outside the Swedish Parliament to strike for the climate. She thus violated the Swedish Education Act, arguing “why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?”. Greta is perhaps a special case in civil disobedience because she does not violate the law that she believes is the problem, but does so to raise another issue. We at GoClimate are convinced that Greta’s morality is right, and that we as a society must change to live in accordance with it. The fact that Greta is a child who is not going to school has undeniably been a thorn in the side for many around the world. The fact that she has become the front person of Fridays For Future, where millions of children around the world follow her example and strike from school, is both proof of the reach that civil disobedience can achieve and the seriousness that today’s children and young people feel about the climate issue.

Within the environmental movement, Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion are two organizations that use civil disobedience to call for attention and push environmental issues. Greenpeace’s actions often target large companies and directly block operators from engaging in environmentally harmful activities, while Extinction Rebellion’s actions have instead intended to cripple society and influence the masses by blocking bridges and roads. Both organizations are considered controversial, although many believe that their work highlights major problems that we have to handle.

How you choose to engage yourself in the climate issue is your own choice, and we at GoClimate hope that we can contribute to a transition to a sustainable society as quickly as possible. Committing civil disobedience is a method that has had a major impact historically on important issues, and it is already part of the environment and climate movement. Civil disobedience continues to be a relevant option because it is clear that systemic changes are not occurring at the pace necessary to secure a habitable planet in the not too distant future.

No matter what you do with your time and engagement, you can always combine that with compensating for your carbon footprint through us at GoClimate. This way, you can do as much good as possible for the climate!

The best climate-related podcasts – GoClimate recommendations!

We at GoClimate listen a lot to podcasts! It’s a brilliant way to learn new things, when sometimes it can be demanding or impractical to read books and some of us actually get restless by watching movies. In addition, it is nice to be accompanied by someone who talks to you when you are out walking, cooking or just being alone at home. So now we thought we’d share our top tips on podcasts about the climate!

All you need to get deep into a podcast!

Note that the Swedish version of this post has more recommendations to podcasts in Swedish, and links to the podcast episodes that feature our founders Kalle and Cissi!

There is a Swedish podcast called Klimatpodden which also features episodes in English. However, it’s not possible to filter for them, so you have to do some digging. But it might be worth the effort – the episode with Kevin Anderson was what convinced Cissi to stop flying! The podcast is arranged in interview format, where you get to listen to inspiring people ranging from researchers and politicians to entrepreneurs and activists who are engaged in fighting climate change. It really shows that anyone and everyone can and should do what they can to help the climate!

A tip from Kalle is the podcast My Climate Journey by Jason Jacobs, a software developer who sold his successful company (Runkeeper) and was looking for deeper meaning to life when he stumbled upon climate change. In his quest to understand the issue he talked to many experts, and those interactions developed into a podcast where we can jointly learn about the subject and get inspiration for what we can do to contribute to the solution.

Tove recommends The Wardrobe Crisis – a podcast for those interested in fashion and who want to know more about how fashion and culture are related to sustainability, ethics, activism and the environment. It’s so inspiring to see people who are willing to drive change within their industry! And there are many episodes for those who are not trend geeks too 🙂

If you instead are very interested in the energy issue (or have a specific query), it might be worth listening to The Interchange about the global energy transition! It was recommended to us by a friend who works with renewable energy – gracias! 🙂

Another one of the more niche podcasts out there is Resources Radio on the topic environmental economics, with episodes on global emissions trading and how the oil market is affected by COVID-19. Great source if you want to understand the interconnection between the climate and the global market, which can be super hard to grasp on your own.

A broader approach to topics in the environmental field is offered by the BBC podcast Costing the Earth. It deals with current issues discussed by leading experts who are working for a cleaner and greener planet. If you want to know more about how COVID-19 affects the climate, plastics, or what would happen if the whole UK went vegan, this is the podcast for you!

Alexandra and Emma are both very fond of the Swedish radio show SRs Sommar & Vinter i P1, where selected Swedes get one hour to talk about whatever they want. One of our idols in the climate field, the world renowned scientist Johan Rockström, made an episode that is just perfect about this – and it is available in English!

We also have a recommendation from a member of our community, who shared Not Cool – A Climate Podcast with us! Thanks a lot! It’s an American podcast which digs deep into serious aspects of climate change, such as tipping points, national security and information gaps. We will definitely give this one a try!

Isn’t it impossible to get bored when there is so much to listen to! What are your best climate podcast recommendations? Leave a comment to your community!

When it sucks to be eco-friendly (and why we choose it anyway)

In the sustainability movement, we are a dedicated bunch who choose to complicate our lives out of the conviction that it is necessary to make the world a better place. Then, we try to make the non-believers join us by convincing them that it’s fun and easy, and you save money too! Right?! It is an appealing narrative and there is definitely truth to it, but we who try to break new ground also get exhausted from walking through a jungle of resistance.

My old laptop was giving up on me. I had bought it in 2013, and have carried it across continents, literally. It had worked in the heat in southern Africa, in the hights of the Andean mountains and in the dampness of Brussels. I had already replaced the screen (I bought a replacement on Amazon and had my friend perform surgery on it for hours) and exchanged the battery once, but I could no longer resuscitate it.

I was offered to buy a Macbook second hand from a friend, some nine months ago. And he had told me there was some issue with the keyboard but he also gave me a discount to account for that. So I paid 2500 sek (approx 250 usd) for the computer, knowing that a repair could add another 2000 sek (200 usd). I was happy to have found a second hand computer, knowing that the production and mining for minerals is a dirty business that I don’t want to support if I can avoid it. Sure, the computer was old, but in good condition and given that I am not a heavy user, I thought I’d be fine.

Working on the train and using the accessibility keyboard to compensate for the broken buttons

When I started working for GoClimate a few months later, they asked me if I needed a computer. But as I had just gotten the Macbook, what was the point of buying another one? That would totally defy my purpose of trying to save resources.

I was fine, for a little while. Then, the number buttons stopped working. Given that a lot of my work is done in Excel, this became a big hindrance. I prayed that it would go away, but of course it didn’t and I had to hand it in for service. It took them some 10 days, but they exchanged some parts and charged me 2280 sek (230 usd) and I thought, ok, now I’m fine. Except the problem came back the following week and now I’m being charged another 2200 sek (220 usd) to replace another part. Adding it up, it’s costing almost as much as a new Macbook, and I am now on my third week of working on a borrowed laptop that is… far from ideal.

About a year ago, I broke my beloved Kindle reading tablet. Living abroad, I used it a lot to read books I couldn’t get hold of in store. I still spent 6 months trying to figure out if I could fix it (warranty expired), if it was worth ordering a new screen from Hong Kong, if I could buy a second hand one (the guy in the sales group ghosted me when I asked too many questions so I’m guessing it might have been stolen)… In then end, I found that Amazon actually sells refurbished items. I ordered one from there but since they don’t ship to Sweden, I had it sent to a friend in the UK. Once I could pick it up, turns out the model I had ordered (the only one available) is older than the one I was used to and it has no back light, which seriously reduces the usability for me… so I actually read less now than I did before.

When I used to go to cafés to read on my kindle and drink matcha latte

All of this leaves me with frustration and a bitter taste. I wish I did not have to deal with this, but electronics have become a necessity in society. My argument to keep pushing for this is that I genuinely believe that to make the world a better place, it is my duty to act in accordance with my values especially when it is uncomfortable. Change is not just gonna happen, someone has to do it. Someone has to create a demand for those second hand products, for the replacement parts, for the service centers. I’m that someone.

So now that my phone is becoming too tired to handle new apps, and I have spent the winter in Stockholm freezing my fingers off waiting for the maps to load, I’m searching for a second hand one. I’m hopeful about the Swedish company Inrego who sells second hand, refurbished electronics, and I’m consulting my tech-savvy colleague. Because that is who I am – the hippie eco-warrior who choose discomfort to live in harmony with my values and the hope to make the world a better place. Please join me.

How can we live climate-friendly lives in 2020?

Live a climate-friendly life.

What is the most important action one can take for the climate in 2020? Well, different actions have different effects. Try to think big. If it feels awkward to go out in the streets and demonstrate or contact politicians, take a digital course in climate action instead to get an understanding for what the most important thing you can do is.

Become an active citizen and put pressure on systems, rules and norms to change. You can do this by:

  • Think BIG! Take a free digital quick course – the Climate Leader – in how you can influence at a system level.
  • Influence your tenant owners’ association. Ask them for example to install solar panels and chargers for electric vehicles, improve insulation to lower your energy consumption, change into renewable electricity and introduce sharing services like carsharing. In addition to having a lower climate footprint, it also makes your apartment block more attractive and resilient for the future.
  • Put pressure on your workplace, your university or school. Ask if they have a climate-smart travel policy in place, if they can introduce a veggie first policy and advise them on calculating their climate footprint. We have developed a tool for that here.
  • Demonstrate – join us, FridaysforFuture, Extinction Rebellion or a friend during the next climate strike  if you feel a bit new and lonely in this type of context.
  • Support End Ecocide to make large-scale environmental degradation a crime. Fracking is one example that could potentially count as ecocide. Sign petitions, make a donation so that small island nations can afford to have representatives in place at international climate negotiations or get involved in the movement locally.
  • Contact your political party and demand that they adopt a policy in line with the Paris Agreement.
  • Carbon offset your lifestyle and help accelerate the transition to renewable energy around the world.

Become a conscious consumer. Reduce your own climate footprint and gain better knowledge of which area you should focus on. What makes the biggest difference for the climate – replacing the car with a bike for distances under 3 km or recycling every single package? Below we list what has the greatest climate impact for an individual.

  • Think half. Do half of the things that have the biggest carbon footprint in your life – eat half as much red meat, fly half as many times, buy half of the apparel and footwear you normally buy and use your car half as much. Or, focus twice as much on of what has a low climate footprint. Maximize your cycling, your train holidays and your vegan eating (tips – try Veganuary). Choose ONE area to focus on and it is more likely that it will happen.
  • Become a circulator instead of a consumer. Start using sharing services for stuff and transportation.
  • Check out the performance of your financial institutions at FairFinanceGuide and use your influence to demand change. Financial institutions like banks and insurance companies can use your money to facilitate the destruction of our planet by investing in for example coal companies. Ask them to stop doing that!
  • Work less and enjoy life!