The One Tonne Life project has ended and the content on this web page is static and is not updated any more. The project was unique and pioneering, making the conclusions and all information connected to the project just as interesting and up-to-date today as when it was run. Read more about the project and get inspired! (March 2017)

One Tonne Life

Tag: Climate-smart

Hi Nils, what’s it like to live the One Tonne Life?

The Lindell family have now spent just over two months living their carbon-lean life. They have experienced some trials along the way and learned a lot. We catch up with Alicja, Nils, Hannah and Jonathan to find out what they think thus far. Initially Nils felt a bit like he was acting in a film, he’s thought a lot about how to live a seasonal lifestyle, and he’s noticed the lack of climate-impact marking in shops.

What did it feel like when your emissions fluctuated so much after moving into the house?
“Well, I saw it as one phase leading up to the February break, during which we acclimatise to the house. We’ve had a lot of help thanks to all the technology but that will be followed by the next phase which isn’t going to work all by itself but where we’re instead going to have to make a lot more effort, take more considered decisions. That there would be something of a backlash during the initial phase was entirely expected, at least by me.”

How have the poor results affected you? How seriously do you take the challenge?
“Well, that was a bit annoying, quite naturally. But at the same time it’s positive too because that’s the way it often is in real life, you get the occasional rap across the knuckles. It’s like when you’re involved in sports and you do poorly in one match and you think “we haven’t trained properly” or “we didn’t prepare sufficiently ahead of the match”. If you get one poor showing after the next that’s not a lot of fun, but if you have just one poor result that just stimulates you to improve the next time, it’s a bit of an incentive to do better.”

What’s your strategy for forging ahead?
“There’s a whole lot of additional knowledge that we need. But then it’s a matter of putting all that knowledge to practical use. It’s about thinking of the whole, of systematising above all as regards groceries and commuting habits.”

Alicja said that you are going to have weekly meetings at which you will plan the coming week. Tell us more!
“That’s so we can update one another, so that we are in sync and have a shared view of the week ahead. For instance so we can plan our travel to work and can car-pool as efficiently as possible, that sort of thing.”

Do you plan your meals?
“Yes, you need to be in agreement. For my part food isn’t a major issue, I’m perfectly happy to eat vegetarian meals for two months without giving it a second thought. Well, that’s my version … who knows what I’ll feel if it actually came to the test!”

You’ve blogged about your improvised climate-smart dinners for the family. Do you always improvise in the kitchen?
“Yes, I see recipes as nothing more than good suggestions. I get a little bored with slavishly following recipes, I like to experiment.”

What were the meals like?
“The first was brilliant, carrot-salmon. The second was cod with cauliflower and that too was a success.”

Fish is quite a good alternative from the climate perspective. But do you think about other problems, such as depleted fish stocks in the oceans?
“That looks after itself. There’s a good, comprehensive guide at ICA, at least at the supermarket where we do our shopping. It shows which fish you can buy with a clean conscience, which is green-listed and so on. So that’s something we can manage, but you don’t get any help with the climate-smart aspect in the store. I’ve noticed that food is the one area in which we have least know-how, and it’s also the area where we get least help. Of course it’s difficult to mark the climate impact of each and every product, but the supermarkets could at least have this as an ambition. I also note there are no climate-smart alternatives for lunch. You can get GI-labelled (Glycemic Index) and “Krav” eco-labelled food, but not climate-smart alternatives. It feels as though guidance in the climate area is roughly where I imagine Krav was 25 years ago. Very patchy and uneven. But I have no doubt there will be swift and thorough progress once the process gets under way.”

Is there any specific event during the project that has been particularly enjoyable?
“I guess it’s our surprise over just how much interest this project has aroused. We felt like we were taking part in a film on the day of the launch when we poked our heads out the front door and saw a bank of 20 cameras facing us. Felt like an English feel-good movie. Popped our heads back in again, thought “Oops, what was that all about?” That wasn’t something I was expecting.”

What do you think your final emission level will be?
“Somewhere between 2.1 and 2.3 tonnes. That would make an average of 2.2 tonnes. That’s my realistic guess, but my optimistic guess is 1.7 tonnes. I’m going for 1.7!”

Anything else you’ve been thinking about during these first two months?
“Actually, yes, something I’ve realised increasingly clearly. It’s important to eat seasonal foods in order to be climate-smart. But when you have the type of technology we have in this house, it’s equally important to also live seasonally. In the summer months, we get free hot water from our solar heating system. Since the technology doesn’t allow us to save this energy for use later in the year, what it means is that we can use a lot of hot water in the summer and enjoy long showers, but take shorter showers in the winter. It’s important to live seasonally in a variety of ways.”

Hi Hannah, what’s it like to live the One Tonne Life?

The Lindell family have now spent just over two months living their carbon-lean life. They have experienced some trials along the way and learned a lot. We catch up with Alicja, Nils, Hannah and Jonathan to find out what they think thus far. Hannah was recognised by the Minister for International Development Cooperation, has won a cheerleading competition and feels that so far it’s been pretty easy to live a climate-smart life.

What do you think about the fact that the graph showing your emissions has fluctuated so much since January?
“It feels OK. The graph climbed when we were in Åre but we’ve now started eating more climate-smart, and we can see that the curve is going down.”

Did you get a shock over the high emissions during your holiday in Åre?
“No, not really. It’s not all that difficult to appreciate that we’re going to have high emissions when we live in a hotel and eat at restaurants all week long.”

How do you feel when you get the results?
“I was on Facebook the day the 3-tonne figure was recorded, so that felt good. Now we’re moving ahead – and down.”

What’s been most fun?
“I thought it was cool when Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson came to our school and she said she recognised me from the newspapers!”

What was it like meeting her? What did you talk about?
“We sat in a group and chatted with her. She was there to listen to us and find out what we thought about sustainability and the environment. She’d already heard about One Tonne Life and felt it was a great project.”

You attended Slottssprinten, a world-cup competition for cross-country skiing around the Royal Palace of Stockholm. What was that like?
“I haven’t really been all that interested in skiing before, but everyone was there egging on and supporting the competitors. Vattenfall was the sponsor, that’s why we were there. We were standing beside Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Viktoria and Daniel were also there cheering. I won a competition where you had to shake your iPhone with a “cheering” app developed by Vattenfall. You can select a cowbell sound, for example, and the idea is to stand and shake your mobile phone so it makes the appropriate sound. It measures how much energy you use in the process. I posted the result 28 times on Facebook so my page was full. That’s why I won.”

What do you think will be the biggest challenge this spring for reducing your emissions still further?
“Coming up with other issues that we have not yet thought about. So far we’ve done the three easy, big things: we’ve moved into a house, started driving an electric car and started eating a more climate-smart diet. The question now is what else we can do apart from these things.”

But surely eating climate-smart isn’t all that simple?
“Actually, I think it’s quite easy. Just avoid meat and eat lots of fish and chicken, which we do anyway. And of course eat root vegetables and always what’s in season.”

So no problem, then. What do you think your emissions will be at the end of the project?
“Well, the truth is that we’ve already dropped by four tonnes, so the rest might feel easy. But the fact is we have a long way to go yet, so I’m guessing 2 tonnes.”

Hi Jonathan, what’s it like to live the One Tonne Life?

The Lindell family have now spent just over two months living their carbon-lean life. They have experienced some trials along the way and learned a lot. We catch up with Alicja, Nils, Hannah and Jonathan to find out what they think thus far. For Jonathan Lindell there are no difficulties – apart from having to abstain from meat.

The family’s emissions have fluctuated quite a lot in these first months. How do you feel about that?
“Well, in the beginning our emissions dropped and then they climbed and I thought ‘Oops! What went wrong there?’”

Were you disappointed?
”No, I just felt we had to work to make this right once again.”

During your trip to Åre your emissions rose to 9 tonnes. Were you prepared for that?
“No, when I found out I was really shocked, didn’t think that was possible.”

What’s your strategy for the spring?
“We have to think about all the small things we do. Every little bit counts – not letting the water run when washing your hands, turning off the shower when you’re soaping up, using the eco-flush in the toilet as often as possible, scraping off the dinner plates with a scraper instead of rinsing them under running water…”

What’s been most fun so far in the project?
“Meeting all the people whom I’d never get the chance to meet otherwise. Everyone’s really nice. And getting to learn things I’d never have a chance of learning otherwise. You start thinking that if you hadn’t been in this project, then you wouldn’t have met these people, or those people, or those other people, or learned this thing or that that or the other thing.”

Is there anything that’s happened that you remember particularly?
“Well, that’s really got to be when I got to drive … I mean ride in the electric car. That’s real cool!”

What has been most difficult?
“Don’t really know, I haven’t felt there are any major problems yet. One thing’s for certain – the easiest part was moving into the new house. That made a huge difference in our carbon dioxide emissions. Changing our habits isn’t all that difficult either. One thing that really is difficult, however, is having to do without meat …”

What would happen if you didn’t get to eat any meat throughout the whole spring?
“Well, I don’t exactly think I’d go crazy or anything but I guess I’ll suffer … no, not really, I suppose I’d get used to that too!”

If you were to hazard a guess, what will your emissions be by the end of the project?
“I think we’ll end up on … 1.7 tonnes.”

Webisode #6 “The Dinner Party”

Hi Alicja, what’s it like to live the One Tonne Life?

The Lindell family have now spent just over two months living their carbon-lean life. They have experienced some trials along the way and learned a lot. We catch up with Alicja, Nils, Hannah and Jonathan to find out what they think thus far. First off the mark is Alicja.

The family’s emissions have fluctuated quite a lot in these first months. How do you feel about that?
“My mood swings up and down between hope and despair! When we started it felt quite difficult, especially after our week skiing in Åre, when we were at almost ten tonnes. Still, having said that I’m quite hopeful because we know the reasons and that is something we can influence. The reasons are food, travel, our purchases, that sort of thing.”

Did the Åre results come as a shock or did you have an idea of what was in store?
“No, not the way it initially turned out. I thought our footprint would increase because we were eating out at restaurants, that kind of thing. But that it would be more than when we moved in, that was a total shock! My first reaction was “This can’t be true”. But now it has dropped again, a whole lot in fact, so that’s great. Now we’re below three tonnes.”

That’s the best you have recorded so far.
“Yes, it’s inspiring. Now we’re ready to tackle all the details, do whatever it takes.”

It’s great fun reading your blog on since you always seem to have strategies for the future. What are your strategies right now?
“We’re going to return to our family meetings, which we had many years ago for planning the week ahead. How much vegetarian food we’ll eat, how much meat and what we want to achieve. So my strategy just now is to get together every Sunday and plan the coming week.”

Is it the week’s menu you will be planning, or other things too?
“Food, travel, all these kinds of things. It all adds up, food is a major part of the picture. We’re beginning to get used to the idea of taking shorter showers – we no longer spend hours in the shower. In fact, we spend less time in the shower with every day that goes by.”

So just how long do you spend in the shower now? Do you use a timer?
“Yes, we have a clock that we occasionally use, my average is now three minutes. The next stage may be to wet your body, soap yourself, turn off the water in the meantime and then turn it on again. There too we can make savings, it’s worth a try.”

What has been the most fun so far in this project?
“Personally what I enjoy most is meeting all these people, whom I’d never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. You pick up new ideas all the time from the many experts we meet in the course of this project.”

What has been your biggest “Aha!” experience so far?
“We’re quite well-informed about food and healthy diet and we’ve always tried to buy as much ecologically cultivated food as possible, even before this, for reasons of principle. But thinking in terms of climate is a different matter, the two don’t always go together. Then there’s the matter of water consumption and electricity, this business of not letting the water run unnecessarily, that sort of thing. There’s a lot to do.”

It sounds like you have a different holistic perspective today.
“Absolutely, I feel I have a different approach today, but I still don’t know enough. Knowledge is needed if we are to understand how it all ties in together. There are masses of people who don’t have this knowledge, who believe that if only they eat more ecologically cultivated food they’re living a more sustainable life. That’s not quite all there is to it.”

If you were to hazard a guess, what figure do you think you could realistically put for your emissions by the end of the project?
“I’m not a gambler, but I really believe we have a chance of reducing by another tonne, bringing us down to two. I’d like to drop to one tonne, but I’m not entirely sure it’s possible. So I’ll stake my bet on two tonnes – if we make that target I’ll be really pleased.”

A wonderful all-girls dinner at home!

Alicja and Hanna Lindell recently organised an all-girls dinner party at home. Among the guests were a group of mothers who have kept in touch ever since Hannah was born, and their daughters. ICA chefs Leif Grönlund and Charlie Larsson cooked a perfectly balanced and particularly climate-smart three-course dinner that the girls of both generations enjoyed to the very last morsel. “This was the tastiest meal I’ve ever had” was just one of many similar comments that could be heard often throughout the course of the evening.

A toast in ecological wine.

Leif prepares the main course, an Indian lentil curry with chicken and naan bread.

Charlie serves the Indian curry.

In honour of the occasion, Hannah was wearing a dress made of recycled fabric.

Leif carried in the dessert to enthusiastic applause …

… a perfect blueberry soufflé …

… that was eaten with immense enjoyment by all the guests.

Alicja seemed very satisfied with the party.

Webisode #4 “The Food”

Skiing holidays and the climate

Skiing is fun. Great fun. Here in Göteborg and elsewhere in Sweden, schoolchildren are enjoying the annual week’s break when they get the chance to go on skiing holidays with their parents.

How does their trip to the ski resorts impact the climate? Put simply, a short trip is better than a long one, and travelling by train is better than going by car, which in turn is better than flying. I’ve made my calculations using a few different examples, including a trip to the Alps (in this case Verbier) and two ski resorts in Sweden – Åre and Sälen.

The basic data for the project states that an aircraft emits 245 g of CO2/person km, a bus produces 40 g of CO2/person km, a Volvo V70 DRIVe 34.5 g of CO2/person km and a train in Sweden emits 1.5 g of CO2/person km. For the V70 we have assumed 4 people are in the car, and 500 g of CO2/l diesel during manufacture. The V70 DRIVe consumes 4.5 l/100 km and emits 119 g of CO2/km in mixed driving. The C30 Electric is not a viable alternative at present since the battery pack’s operating range is too much of a limitation. On the other hand, the V60 plug-in hybrid will handle a long trip perfectly.

We can begin with the Alps and their marvellous ski slopes. From Stockholm the distance is about 1800 km as the crow flies and 1900 km by road. It is possible to fly to the Alps, supplementing the last stretch with a transfer service, and it is also possible to get there by bus or in your own car. I have discounted the train as an alternative quite simply because it is far too complicated owing to the many changes necessary. By air, total CO2 emissions including transfer will be about 900 kg of CO2 per person for the return trip. By bus the figure is 155 kg of CO2 and by car it is 174 kg of CO2 there and back. The car and bus are thus quite close to each other in terms of CO2 emissions. For the car I have based my calculations on 30% higher fuel consumption since the car will be heavily loaded and speed will be relatively high through Germany. If instead the car and its occupants take the overnight ferry from Göteborg to Kiel in order to cut down on driving, CO2 emissions actually go up by 43 kg to 217 kg of CO2/person.

The distance to the Swedish ski slopes is shorter. Stockholm to Åre is about 660 kilometres. With an overnight train from Stockholm, total CO2 emissions for the trip are about 2 kg and by car the figure is 46 kg of CO2. Travelling to Sälen by railway means changing trains several times just as in the case of the Alps, making the train an impractical alternative. On the other hand, there are several direct bus services from Stockholm. Sälen is just over 400 km from Stockholm. The bus ride from Stockholm to Sälen results in 34 kg of CO2 per person. For the same trip in a V70 DRIVe emissions of CO2 will total 28 kg. So the result is somewhat lower emissions of CO2 for a family travelling by car to the Swedish ski slopes compared to taking the bus.

That was a whole lot of statistics, so here is a simplified table showing the results.

To the Alps kg of CO2 return trip per person
Air 893
Bus 155
Car 174
Car + ferry 217

To the Swedish slopes

Åre by car 46
Åre by train 2
Sälen by bus 34
Sälen by car 28

As I said initially, it can be clearly seen that shorter trips are better than longer ones, and the train is better than the car, which in turn is better than flying. However, it is not always that the bus is a better choice than the car. These two transport modes are roughly equal if there are four occupants in the car.

Have a really great time on the slopes! If you are in Sälen, take the opportunity to try out Volvo’s skid-pan with a bit of that really exciting “Ice Racing” feel. It’s both fun and educational.

You can find out more about Volvo’s various offers in Sälen at

David Weiner, Volvo

Hi there, Hannah Lindell!

It was teenage daughter Hannah Lindell, 16, who read about the One Tonne Life project in the local paper. Now she is looking forward to moving house for six months and hopes to learn a lot about what it means to live a climate-smart lifestyle.

What will be the biggest challenge with living in the new house?
“Changing my habits. It’s easy to bring your old habits into the new house but the idea after all is that we should learn to be more eco-aware. It’s how we live in the house that makes the difference. Perhaps greater awareness of not showering too long, switching off the lights, shutting off the cooker and oven, maybe turning down the central heating.”

What does good housing mean to you?
“I enjoy cooking, so a kitchen that is fun to be in is important. You need a living room that’s comfortable and practical. And of course a bedroom that reflects your personality. If you bring a friend over to your house you want to feel some pride in your home, you want it to look nice. The house shouldn’t be cold.”

Do you live a climate-smart lifestyle today?
“I wouldn’t say I live an exceptionally climate-smart lifestyle today. Everyone in our family enjoys travelling. We’ve done a few long-distance trips, such as to Thailand and Australia – that’s all the way across the world. I enjoy long showers and have a habit of leaving on lots of lights…”

How do you get to school?
“I often get a ride to school, and that’s not particularly environmentally friendly. My school is in Nacka and that’s on the other side of the city, it takes about an hour to get there. I ride with Dad in to Hötorget and then take the metro the rest of the way.”

Are you prepared to live on root vegetables in order to cut emissions as much as possible?
“I like root vegetables – I simply love root vegetable soup, for instance. I have no problem eating more vegetables in order to cut emissions, if we get the mix right. We don’t eat steaks and that sort of thing very often. Everyone in our family enjoys cooking so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to learn new recipes.”

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
“Coffee with my friends, riding, reading, dinner with my girl friends, training, going to the movies…”

Do you shop a lot?
“I buy clothes and the occasional accessory, for instance at H&M, Weekday, Topshop and Zara. I like second-hand clothing stores too, Emmaus on Götgatan is great. That’s good for the environment … and of course it makes a smaller hole in my wallet.”

Are horses climate-smart?
“I think so. They don’t break wind a whole lot and their manure is good for gardens and farms. And of course they only eat hay and oats, fruit and grass in the meadow.”

Will we get to grips with the climate issue?
“Since everyone is now so involved and dedicated I feel the situation will improve, it has to. But we need more action – so far it’s been mostly talk.”

Whose responsibility is that?
“It’s important for researchers and politicians and companies to find solutions that make it easy for people to be eco-smart so that it becomes a natural part of everyday living. We have to fetch our inspiration from somewhere. And of course it’s everyone’s responsibility to do their bit to help.”

What role can One Tonne Life play?
“I believe it can serve as a source of inspiration. It could show what the future may be like, this is the type of house that is needed. And now it’s just a regular, normal family that’s living in it. It’s not something people are talking about, it’s actually being put into practice and will become part of our everyday lifestyle. That’s how we can show it’s possible to live with low emissions and that this lifestyle need not be a chore.”

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