Tools for individuals
Toitū is to care for the life of this place, our people and our future. Individuals, households and communities can also take credible steps toward a more sustainable future. Together, we can build momentum, inspire hope, stand out, and strengthen our progress toward a sustainable world.
Toitū is our invitation to share the momentum of our collective change. Toitū together. Take steps with us as individuals.
- Understand and reduce your personal carbon footprint
- Purchase environmentally responsible goods and services
- Other sustainable resources
Have you seen one of our marks on a product and want to know more about what it takes to earn that certification?
Your personal carbon footprint is the total output of greenhouse gas emissions caused by you. Some of these are direct – you burn petrol in a car or send rubbish to landfill – and some of these are indirect, produced by the goods and services you choose to purchase. The biggest contributors to your personal footprint are typically energy, transport, rubbish and diet.
Measuring your footprint helps you to understand what’s creating your footprint. Want to measure yours? We offer free calculators for you to estimate your household or travel carbon footprint. Our calculators use New Zealand specific data and include Kiwi averages so you can compare yourself to the wider community. Click here to get started.
Once you’ve measured, this knowledge empowers you to strategically target those emissions to reduce them. There are many simple, low- or no-cost ways to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Saving carbon almost always also saves you money and contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle, so think about what you can do to reduce, substitute or avoid emissions. Remember – quick wins and long term projects are both important to make your fair contribution to our climate. Ready to reduce? Jump to our top tips below.
Some reductions will take us a bit more time than others. If you’d like to balance the scales to zero while you work on some of the harder emissions sources and campaign for community level change, consider purchasing quality carbon credits to offset your remaining footprint. Want to know more about carbon credits – check out our resources here. Keen to offset? You can purchase credits directly from our calculators after you’ve measured or simply plug in the number of credits to the offset tool here.
We challenge everyone to try and reduce their carbon footprint by a simple 5% each year – share your success stories and tricky challenges with us on social media.
No matter the source, the best option is to refuse the emissions in the first place – refusing that piece of single use plastic that is going to be thrown away, choosing not to fly for your next vacation, or switching off lights. But you can also rethink your actions, reduce consumption, reuse or repair instead of tossing something out, rot and compost all your organic waste, and as a last resort responsibly recycle everything possible.
The average New Zealand household spends almost $2,000 per year on home energy. Some of this is fixed costs, and the rest is costs associated with how many units of energy are used. Reducing the amount of energy will reduce carbon as well as your costs, and in some cases changing the type of energy may help too.
- Replace considerately: Whenever you need to replace an appliance or device, consider the energy efficiency alongside the other features. As a bonus, look for an option that can be repaired so you can avoid and reduce future waste as well.
- Flip the switch: Do you turn off all your appliances when not in use? Be sure to do so at the wall whenever possible, as many devices in standby mode (what we think of as 'off') can still draw on power.
- Light it up: Think twice before flicking on the lamp and turn lights off when you leave the room. The next time you need to replace a bulb, choose an LED option to save on energy and costs over the bulb's lifetime.
Transport and travel
For many of us transport is the biggest contributor to our personal footprints once we add up all the motorised transport used for work, play, holidays or even just picking up the groceries. Doing what you can to combine trips, share transport with others, or use alternative forms of transport will help in cutting your contribution.
- Plan your routes efficiently: When running errands consider the most efficient route as well as if you can do anything else in the area at the same time.
- Leave the car at home: Is biking or walking an option for your trip? What about public transport? If you do need to take a vehicle, are you able to car pool? Sharing a ride means sharing the emissions and reduces the overall impact, even if just once a week.
- Drive well: Read up on eco-driving tips and make sure your vehicle is running as efficiently as possible. Check your tyre pressure and consider investing in fuel efficient tyres at the next swap.
- Invest in green: For local trips, electric scooters or bikes are a lot more affordable than an EV and make travelling around the city easier (plus you can avoid the traffic jams).
For many of us, the way we live creates huge amounts of waste. Try to stop thinking about throwing things "away" as really we are just locking those resources away in the ground. Avoid waste through your purchasing decisions where possible, and campaign for better options where you need them.
- Read up: Recycling varies between regions in New Zealand so check with your local council to find out what can or can't be recycled and how to dispose of it (top tip - be sure to rinse and dry it). In Auckland, Ecomatters offers lots of options for harder to recycle options such as toothpaste tubes, stainless steel razor blades, curtains and more.
- Waste not: Can you avoid bringing waste home in the first place? Consider both the amount and type of packaging on the food and goods you purchase. Avoid single use packaging where possible by going without or bringing your own reusable container. For some products you may be able to DIY a zero waste alternative. The next best thing is packaging that can be easily reused. If the packaging is going to be waste, try to select the most easily recycled option (check your regional council for local recycling options), such as aluminium cans or cardboard.
- Let it rot: Try to avoid sending any organic waste to landfill; the design of modern landfills doesn't allow for decomposition the same way a compost heap would and instead creates methane gas. If your home allows it, consider having a compost bin or worm farm. You may also find a local place to take greenwaste if your council doesn't collect it (look for greenwaste centres or even some community gardens).
Food and diet play a key role in our individual footprints, from the production and transport of ingredients through to wasted food thrown out. We are working to acquire New Zealand specific data about food and diet emissions to add these to our free online calculator, but you can start reducing your impacts right away. Our top three tips are:
- Pick your proteins wisely: Plant-based protein like peas or lentils have a very low carbon impact compared with meat or fish. The lowest non-plant options include duck, eggs or buffalo milk.
- Eat a rainbow: Locally-sourced seasonal fruit and vegetables have the lowest emission factor particularly onions, potatoes and the mighty carrot. Our iconic kiwifruit is a good option too.
- Consider how you cook: Cooking briskly with electricity instead of natural gas is a lower carbon option in New Zealand, where electricity is predominantly renewable. Per kWh electricity has 50% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to natural gas.
Purchase environmentally responsible goods and services
Vote with your wallet – choose to support organisations, products and services that are managing their environmental impacts and avoid purchasing from those who don’t. This will help encourage that behaviour to spread – the trick is to look for organisations that are measured against an agreed standard and independently verified or certified. For example, if an organisation is claiming to plant trees to be carbon neutral, they are doing a great ecological service but cannot actually claim to be carbon neutral. Our members offer a range of services and products and each is independently certified as taking credible action for a better environment. See the full list of currently certified organisations and products here.
When shopping, look for these certification marks on products or business materials. Independent certification from Toitū Envirocare proves that a company or product is taking the right action for the environment. A summary of each type of certification follows, and you can learn more about the specific requirements to achieve each type of certification here.
Toitū enviromark certification
Toitū carbonreduce certification
Toitū net carbonzero certification
Toitū enviromark certification means the company has or is developing an environmental management system, or a set of procedures and policies to manage all environmental impacts, risks, and aspects. Certified companies can be one of three levels depending on how far along they are: Bronze, Gold, or Diamond.
Toitū carbonreduce certification is awarded to companies, products or services that are measuring and actively working to reduce their carbon footprint.
(formerly known as CEMARS)
|Toitū net carbonzero certification is awarded to organisations, products or services, building operations and farms that are measuring, actively working to reduce and annually offset their carbon footprint.|
The following New Zealand website links are packed with information, resources, ideas and practical actions on energy savings, home design, energy-saving appliances, renewable-energy options and more.
- www.mfe.govt.nz/climate-change – information and resources on climate change policy and regulations in New Zealand - Ministry for the Environment
- www.energywise.govt.nz – information and resources to make your home more energy efficient including information on appliances – Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
- www.rightcar.govt.nz – tools to help you rate your car’s performance for safety, fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions – Land Transport NZ
- www.fuelsaver.govt.nz - options for reducing vehicle fuel use, with a focus on fleet replacement options – Land Transport NZ
- www.smarterhomes.org.nz - resources to help you make your home more efficient – Smarter Homes
- www.homefit.org.nz – an online tool to check if a home is warm, safe and dry – New Zealand Green Building Council
- www.sustainableliving.org.nz – information and resources to help you make your household and lifestyle more sustainable