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Carbon Footprints Of Everyday Products & Things - Better Meets Reality

Carbon Footprints Of Everyday Products & Things

We’ve already put together a guide on the carbon footprints of different foods.

But, in the guide below, we’ve outlined the carbon footprints of different products and everyday things, such as cars, electricity, household appliances, and more

We’ve also organized them into categories.


Summary – Carbon Footprints Of Everyday Products & Things

What Is A Carbon Footprint?

Read more about carbon footprints in this guide


Carbon Footprints Of Everyday Products & Things

The everyday products and things we discuss the carbon footprint of below are:

Heating, and types of heating systems/methods for buildings and homes

Household appliances and devices


Households in general 



Toilet paper


A computer

The internet

A Google search or web search, and electronic communication

An email

Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin

A mobile phone or smartphone

Different textile materials and fibres

Common building materials

Concrete and cement


Clothes and furniture shopping

Families living in separate/multiple households

Having one extra child 

One person over their lifetime

One soccer World Cup

Running on a treadmill

Staying in a hotel

A hand dryer vs paper hand towels 


Other Carbon Footprints

Other carbon footprint guides include:

Carbon Footprint Of Different Energy Sources For Electricity

Carbon Footprint Of Different Types Of Transport

Carbon Footprint Of Different Types Of Food, & Beverages


Carbon Footprint Of Heating

Some reports indicate that of all activities or operations in the US, heating and cooling buildings and homes might be one of the largest generators of CO2, at close to 40% of all CO2 generation.

In terms of the different types of heating systems and methods …

Space heating with wood might emit the least CO2e, and electric heaters the most

Waste heat from power generation in combined heat and power district heating may also have a much lower CO2 footprint than micro power or heat pumps


How The Carbon Footprint Of Heating Compares To Other Activities 

The four largest generators of CO2 in the U.S. are: Heating and cooling homes (21%), Heating and cooling buildings (18%), Driving cars and trucks (33%), and Industrial operations (28%) (nrmca.org)


Type Of Heating

Space heating with wood emits the least CO2e (31.4 tons per million BTU) followed by 64.2 for natural gas, with the highest being 210.5 for electric heaters (css.umich.edu)


[Research on the] CO2 footprint for heat … shows that using waste heat from power generation in combined heat and power district heating … has the lowest carbon footprint, much lower than micro-power or heat pumps (wikipedia.org)


Carbon Footprint Of Different Household Appliances & Devices

Low energy lightbulbs, microwave ovens, and gas ovens might be some of the lowest emission appliances/devices 

Fridge/freezers, electric tumble dryers and electric hobs might be some of the highest emissions appliances/devices.

Gas appliances and devices appear to have a lower carbon footprint than electric appliances and devices

There seems to be a significant carbon saving between using low energy lightbulbs and standard lightbulbs

Additionally, it makes sense that the more loads of washing a household does, and the longer they have appliances or devices like lights on, the higher their carbon footprint might be. This might apply to most uses of energy around the house.


Highest & Lowest Emitting Appliances & Devices In The Home

According to carbonfootprint.com, the following appliances might emit the following amounts of CO2 per year (measured in kg of CO2 per year):

[Some of the lowest emission appliances are low energy light bulbs at 11 kg CO2 per year, microwave ovens at 39, gas ovens at 38, washing machines at 51, and dishwashers set to 55°C at 51]

[Some of the highest emission appliances are a Fridge-Freezer A spec at 175, an Electric Tumble Dryer at 159, an Electric Hob at 129, a Fridge-Freezer A+ spec at 116, an Electric Oven at 91, a Fridge-Freezer A ++ spec at 89, and a Dishwasher at 65°C at 84]


Refrigerators are one of the largest users of household appliance energy … (css.umich.edu)


Gas vs Electric Appliances & Devices

– Oven

[In terms of kg CO2 per year, a Gas Oven emits 38 kg CO2 per year, whilst an Electric oven emits 91] (carbonfootprint.com)


– Hob

[In terms of kg CO2 per year, a Gas Hob emits 71 kg CO2 per year, whilst an Electric Hob emits 129] (carbonfootprint.com)


Low Energy Light Bulb vs Standard Light Bulb

[In terms of kg CO2 per year, a Low Energy Light Bulb emits 11 kg CO2 per year, whilst a Standard Light Bulb emits 63] (carbonfootprint.com)


Other General Household Activities & Devices

From livescience.com:

Drying one load of laundry a week puts 0.1 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere

The average bedroom lights produce about 0.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually when they are on for two hours a week


Carbon Footprint Of TV’s

carbonfootprint.com provides some information on different types of TVs, on both standby, and on power, in terms of kg of CO2 per year

You can view their report for the full set of data

But, our paraphrased summary of that report is that:

– Putting a TV on standby can result in significant savings of carbon emissions over having the TV on power

As just one example of this a LCD 34-37 inch, on standby 17.5 hours a day, may emit 5kg of CO2 per year, compared to a LCD 34-37 inch, on power 6.5 hours a day, which might emit 215kg of CO2 per year


– When different types of TVs are turned on, a rear projection TV might emit the least CO2 (196), cathode ray tube the second least (203), LCD third (215), and Plasma the most (269)


Carbon Footprint Of Households

The average US household might emit between 10 to 49 tons of CO2 a year

Realistically though, the carbon footprint of a household can be affected by factors such as the type of energy they use for electricity and heating, the climate the house is situated in, the size of the family living in the house, the lifestyle choices of the family, and so on.


Annual Emissions Of The Average US Household

The average U.S. household [emits] 49 metric tons of carbon … each year (livescience.com)


… each [US] household produces 48 tons of greenhouse gases (greeneatz.com)


The average family of 4 creates 10 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year (carbonfootprint.com)


Carbon Footprint Of Pets (Dogs, & Cats)

Pets like dogs appear to have a notable carbon footprint – it might be on par with a medium sized vehicle

This carbon footprint might come primarily from the food they eat – especially meat based pet food

In addition to carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide might also be emitted as a result of pet product consumption

In addition to meat in pet food, pets may also burp and pass gas (which both have emissions)


Carbon Footprint Of Dogs

A medium-size dog could have a similar footprint to a large SUV (dailymail.co.uk)


Carbon Footprint Of Pet Food

[Food is a large contributing factor to the carbon footprint of dogs, and meat based pet foods produce more carbon than plant based foods] (dailymail.co.uk)


From newsroom.ucla.edu:

Meat-eating by dogs and cats creates the equivalent of about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, which has about the same climate impact as a year’s worth of driving from 13.6 million cars …

Cats and dogs are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States


From journals.plos.org:

There are 163 million dogs and cats in the US regularly consuming animal products [in pet food]

US pet cats and dogs account for 64 million tons of CO2-equivalent methane and nitrous oxide from their product consumption


Carbon Footprint Of Plastic

The carbon footprint of plastic can be measured by the weight of plastic produced 

But, it can also be measured by the type of plastic item

Lightweight plastic bags tend to have a smaller carbon footprint than reusable plastic bags

For both plastic bags and plastic water bottles, the sheer number of them that are produced (in the hundreds of billions) might result in a large carbon footprint


Plastic In General

The carbon footprint of plastic (LDPE or PET, poyethylene) is about 6 kg CO2 per kg of plastic (timeforchange.org)


Plastic Bags

Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year (oceancrusaders.org)


From greenlivingonline.com:

3 g CO2 emissions for very lightweight plastic bags

10 g CO2 emissions for standard disposable supermarket plastic bag

50 g CO2 heavyweight reusable plastic bag


Plastic Water Bottle

… we consume 563 billion single use plastic water bottles every year (1millionwomen.com.au)


… one 500-milliliter (0.53 quarts) plastic bottle of water has a total carbon footprint equal to 82.8 grams (about 3 ounces) of carbon dioxide (sciencing.com)


Carbon Footprint Of Toilet Paper

The carbon footprint of toilet paper might depend on the type of toilet paper that it is – the material it’s made from, whether it’s recycled or not, and so on


Non Recycled Toilet Paper

Using toilet paper made from non recycled toilet paper for 1 year equals about 75kg C02e (ourworld.unu.edu)


Other Types Of Toilet Paper

We discuss the energy use involved in different types of toilet paper in a separate guide 

Some reports indicate that recycled toilet paper uses less energy than toilet paper made from raw materials


Carbon Footprint Of A Country’s GDP

It appears that increases in a country’s GDP generally corresponds in an increase in carbon emissions

Read more about whether economic growth can be sustainable or not in a separate guide


… with each 1% increase in GDP there is a corresponding 0.5 to 0.7% rise in carbon emissions (theconversation.com)


Carbon Footprint Of Using A Computer

The more someone uses a computer, the higher their carbon footprint


Using a computer every workday from 9 to 6, and at home during weekdays and on weekends for 2 hours (includes electricity, servers, networks) equals about 1.41 tonnes CO2e per year (ourworld.unu.edu)


Carbon Footprint Of The Internet

The internet and it’s supporting equipment and infrastructure appears to make up a notable % of global greenhouse emissions


The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions (bbc.com)


Carbon Footprint Of A Google Search Or Web Search, & Electronic Communication

There’s a carbon footprint for web searches, and some of that comes from energy use at the search engine’s side

The efficiency of the computer being used for the search might play a significant role in emissions for web searches – some are more efficient and have lower footprints than others

In general, electronic communication and internet searching might have a notable carbon footprint


Emissions Per Search

At 0.2 grams a search – it would take about 5000 searches before a person reaches 1kg of emissions.


0.2 g CO2 emissions: Google’s estimate for the energy used at their end (greenlivingonline.com)


Emissions Per Search From Different Types Of Computers

From greenlivingonline.com:

0.7 g CO2 emissions from an efficient laptop

4.5 g CO2 from a power-hungry machine


Total Emissions From Electronic Communication & Internet Searching

From ourworld.unu.edu:

On aggregate, the annual global emissions from texting, e-mailing (roughly 90 trillion e-mails in 2009) and ‘googling’ could be as high as 360 million tonnes.

[In addition to the above 360 million tonnes, it takes] 130 million tonnes [of emissions] … to store the world’s data per year (web pages, databases, applications and downloads)


Carbon Footprint Of Email

Sending and receiving emails both have a carbon footprint


Receiving Emails

A typical year of receiving emails equals 135kg CO2e (ourworld.unu.edu)


Sending Emails

No data at this point in time


Carbon Footprint Of Cryptocurrency & Bitcoin

During March 2021, various reports online indicate that:

– one Bitcoin transaction is the equivalent of 100’s of thousands of VISA transactions, or watching 10’s of thousands of YouTube


– Bitcoin’s total energy consumption results in emissions that match the total emissions of small to medium size countries, and some sources indicate Bitcoin’s entire carbon footprint is on track to match the city of London’s


Assumptions made about the exact number of Terrawatts of electricity it uses can heavily impact the carbon footprint though.

Estimates in 2021 range anywhere from 70TWh up to almost 200TWh.


Carbon Footprint Of A Mobile Phone, Or Smartphone

Most of an iPhone’s carbon footprint might currently come from it’s production stage

However, other information might suggest that extended use of a smartphone can significantly increase the carbon footprint from the operation/usage stage



An iPhone X has a 79 kg CO2e total greenhouse gas emissions [and] 80% comes from production, 17% from customer use, 2% from transport and 1% from recycling (images.apple.com)


Standard Mobile Phone

… on a mobile phone, just two minutes’ daily use produces 47 kg of CO2 per year and an hour a day could produce the figure of 1,250 kg per year (activesustainability.com)


Using a mobile phone for 1 hour per day (includes manufacture, and usage emissions) results in 1250kg of emissions per year (ourworld.unu.edu)


Carbon Footprint Of Different Textile Materials & Fibres

For textile materials and fibres in general:

There can be a different carbon footprint for the different stages of fibre generation for each fibre, such as cultivation, fibre production, the fibre usage stage, and other stages

Synthetic fibres might generally have a higher carbon footprint than natural fibres when taking into account specifically fibre cultivation and production

When accounting specifically for durability and maintenance and cleaning, synthetic fibres might have lower carbon footprints than natural fibres

Organic fibres might generally have a lower carbon footprint than both synthetic and natural conventional fibres


For individual textile materials and fibres:

Cotton and PET might generally have a higher carbon footprint than other fibres

Conventional cotton might generally have a higher carbon footprint than organic cotton

The carbon footprint of the same individual fibre can differ between countries 


There’s ultimately many variables and factors that go into the final carbon footprint that makes up a specific textile material or fibre.

Different sets of data might show different materials and fibres as having different carbon footprints depending on what data is used.


Individual Fibres

In terms of kg of CO2 emissions per ton of spun fiber, conventional cotton (USA) comes in at 5.90, organic cotton (India) at 3.80, organic cotton (USA) at 2.35, and polyester (USA) at 9.52 (oecotextiles.wordpress.com)


According to wikipedia.org:

In Europe, carbon dioxide equivalent emissions footprints per kilo of textile at the point of purchase by a consumer were:

Cotton: 8

PET (e.g. synthetic fleece): 5.55

Wool: 5.48

Nylon: 5.43

[But – there are a wide range of factors that can impact the carbon footprint of individual textiles]


Natural Fibres vs Synthetic Fibres vs Organic Fibres

From oecotextiles.wordpress.com:

… natural fibres like cotton have a lower energy requirement and carbon footprint than synthetic fibres when taking into consideration both crop cultivation and fiber production

Organic fibers have the lowest footprint, followed by natural, with synthetic having the highest energy and carbon footprint


According to wikipedia.org:

In Europe … accounting for durability and energy required to wash and dry textile products, synthetic fabrics generally have a substantially lower carbon footprint than natural ones.

[But – there are a wide range of factors that can impact the carbon footprint of individual textiles]


Carbon Footprint Of Conventional Cotton Specifically

We provide information on the potential carbon footprint of conventional cotton in this guide


Carbon Footprint Of Organic Cotton Specifically

We provide information on the potential carbon footprint of organic cotton in this guide.


Carbon Footprint Of Common Building Materials

We don’t have carbon emission numbers for building materials, but, we do have energy consumption data

The building material that uses the most energy in production (per tonne) by a significant margin is aluminum, with stainless steel in second

Aggregates, concrete, bricks, timber, and Portland cement might use the least energy in production (per tonne)

Concrete and cement in particular might have low embodied energy compared to other building materials

The energy efficiency of steel production might be increasing – energy consumption has reduced over the last few decades


Individual Building Materials

From nrmca.org:

The energy used in production for some common building materials is (in Gigajoules per tonne):

Aluminum – 270 GJ/t

Stainless Steel – 90

Steel – 30

Glass – 20

Portland Cement – 5

Timber – 2

Bricks – 2

Concrete – 1.4

Aggregates – 0.25


The carbon emission footprint of different materials like Bricks, Cement, Concrete, Glass, Timber, Plastics, Metals, Minerals and stone, and more, can be found at the circularecology.com, greet.es.anl.gov and wikipedia.org listed in the resources list.


Concrete & Cement Specifically

With a total embodied energy of 1.69 GJ/tonne concrete is lower than any other building material besides wood (wikipedia.org)


From nrmca.org:

Concrete compares favorably to other building materials such as steel, wood and asphalt when analyzing energy consumption and CO2 emissions

… cement production accounts for 0.33% of energy consumption in the U.S [and] The current level is low compared with other industries, such as petroleum refining at 6.5%, steel production at 1.8% and wood production at 0.5%


Steel Specifically

Efficiency with steel production is on the rise [as] In the last 50 years, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption per tonne of steel produced by 60% (worldsteel.org)


Carbon Footprint Of Concrete & Cement

Concrete is one of the most important materials/resources on Earth

The CO2 footprint of concrete might be directly a result of the amount of cement in the concrete – the more cement, the higher the CO2 footprint. Concrete has other materials in it other than cement.

The production stage of concrete might account for the most carbon emissions of all lifecycle stages

The cement and concrete industry might be responsible for about 4 to 8 % of the world’s emissions amongst all industries, whilst in the US, that % might be much lower – around 1 to 2 %.

Compared to other resources, fossil fuels might be the only other resources that emit more total greenhouse gases than concrete

There might be improvements being made in the concrete industry that both decrease emissions, and increase the performance of the concrete


Why Concrete Is Important

Concrete is the most widely consumed resource on the planet behind water (bbc.com)


How Cement & Concrete Are Related

Cement is a key ingredient in concrete


Total Carbon Footprint Of Cement & Concrete

From greenrationbook.org.uk:

Concrete has a carbon footprint of about [150kg CO2e per tonne]

The manufacture of [a pound of cement produces about 0.9 pounds of CO2]

Since cement is only a fraction of the constituents in concrete, manufacturing a cubic yard of concrete (about 3900 lbs) is responsible for emitting about 400 lbs of CO2

Carbon dioxide emissions from a cement plant are divided into two source categories: combustion and calcination [with] Combustion [accounting] for approximately 40% and calcination 60% of the total CO2 emissions …


The CO2 emission from the concrete production is directly proportional to the cement content used in the concrete mix … (wikipedia.org)


[Emissions from cement production depend] on the fuel type, raw ingredients used and the energy efficiency of the cement plant (nrmca.org)


From wikipedia.org:

… concrete has a very low embodied energy relative to the quantity that is used [and] This is primarily the result of the fact that the materials used in concrete construction, such as aggregates, pozzolans, and water, are relatively plentiful and can often be drawn from local sources. 

This means that transportation only accounts for 7% of the embodied energy of concrete, while the cement production accounts for 70%.


From theguardian.com:

Half of concrete’s CO2 emissions are created during the manufacture of clinker, the most-energy intensive part of the cement-making process


From giatecscientific.com:

Approximately 88% of the emissions associated with concrete production are due to fabrication and use of cement


Carbon Footprint Of Cement & Concrete Industry As A % Of All Industries – Global

From bbc.com:

Cement [makes up] about 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions


From theguardian.com:

Taking in all stages of production, concrete is said to be responsible for 4-8% of the world’s CO2


The concrete industry is one of two largest producers of carbon dioxide (CO2), creating up to 5% of worldwide man-made emissions of this gas, of which 50% is from the chemical process and 40% from burning fuel (wikipedia.org)


From giatecscientific.com:

The concrete industry is one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide in the world, producing around 5% of man-made carbon emissions.


From bbc.com:

[Concrete] contributes more CO2 than aviation fuel (2.5%) and is not far behind the global agriculture business (12%).


Carbon Footprint Of Cement & Concrete Industry As A % Of All Industries – US

The U.S. cement industry accounts for approximately 1.5% of U.S. CO2 emissions, well below other sources such as heating and cooling our homes (21%), heating and cooling our buildings (19%), driving our cars and trucks (33%) and industrial operations (27%) (nrmca.org)


Concrete vs Other Resources

Among materials, only coal, oil and gas are a greater source of greenhouse gases [than concrete] (theguardian.com)


Potential Improvements In The Carbon Footprint Of Cement & Concrete

From giatecscientific.com:

[Some companies] are developing technologies for concrete manufacturing companies that will recycle carbon dioxide and use it to make stronger and greener concrete.

Not only can this technology reduce the industry’s carbon footprint by up to 15% by 2030, but the improved strength of concrete means that buildings could last longer than the typical 60-80 years reducing the turnover rate


Carbon Footprint Of Steel

The carbon footprint of steel can be broken down by tonnes of production

Additionally, iron and steel as an industry might make up a notable % of total world CO2 emissions


On average, 1.9 tonnes of CO2 are emitted for every tonne of steel produced [and] the iron and steel industry accounts for approximately 6.7% of total world CO2 emissions (worldsteel.org)


Carbon Footprint Of Clothes Shopping

Spending more money on the purchase of new clothes and furniture may be correlated (in general) with an increase in a shopping related carbon footprint each year


From livescience.com:

Spending $100 of clothes each month will set you back 0.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year [and] Throw in a $1,000 furniture purchase once a year and you’re up to almost a ton.


Carbon Footprint Of Families Living In Separate/Multiple Households

Families living in separate households may generally have a larger carbon footprint than families living in multiple different households, such as those with separated parents

Additional electricity use may be one of the key reasons for this


From livescience.com:

Divorced households used an extra 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity compared with married households [and this is due to having an additional home]

There were about 16 million divorced households in 2000, which comes to 4,562.5 extra kilowatt-hours of electricity per household.


Carbon Footprint Of Having One Extra Child

Having a baby will set you back 9,441 metric tons of CO2 over your lifetime (livescience.com)


However, in a separate guide, we mention that the lifestyle choice that each individual makes impacts the per capita footprint of each additional person.


Carbon Footprint Of One Person Over Their Lifetime

The carbon footprint of one person over their lifetime can vary depending on how much they consume, and how intensive their consumption is

The country they live in may also impact their carbon footprint for the average person

People living in some countries (like the US) may generally have a higher average carbon footprint than the global average

Some celebrities who consume a lot, and have intensive consumption habits may have a much larger footprint than other people


US vs Global Average

From nature.org:

The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States [per year] is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world.

Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons …

[Based on the assumption someone lives until 70, that equals US – 70 x 16 = 1120 tons of CO2 for a lifetime, and Global Average – 70 x 4 = 280 tons of CO2 for a lifetime]


So, one person living in one country could have up to a 5 x or larger lifetime carbon footprint than another person in another country.


Carbon Footprint Of One Soccer World Cup

The 2010 South Africa World Cup produced 2.8 million tonnes C02e for one month [but, this did not include those watching TV] (ourworld.unu.edu)


Some may question the tradeoff of an event like this.

On one hand there’s the significant carbon footprint to consider, but, on the other hand, there’s social/cultural importance of the Soccer World Cup, and also other benefits such as economic benefits for the host country and city.


Beyond the soccer World Cup, it would be interesting to know the carbon footprint of professional sports in general – for travel, stadiums, games, broadcasting, social media, and so on


Carbon Footprint Of Running On A Treadmill

Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week will boost your carbon footprint by 0.07 metric tons per year (livescience.com)


Exercising outside, or without a powered machine, might result in a lower carbon footprint than using powered machines or going to a gym (which uses energy)


Carbon Footprint Of Staying In A Hotel

Two nights in a standard high carbon use hotel [emits] 120kg C02e (ourworld.unu.edu)


It would be interesting to compare this figure to other forms of accomodation on a per night basis, such as a home, accomodation sharing platforms, hostels, camping, and so on


Carbon Footprint Of Hand Dryer vs Paper Hand Towels

Standard electric hand dryers may emit more CO2 than one paper towel, but, new/advanced air blade hand dryers might emit carbon less than both


From greenlivingonline.com:

3 g CO2 emissions drying with the Dyson Airblade

10 g CO2 emissions for one paper towel

20 g CO2 emissions for standard electric dryer





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