Flight Emission Calculators: A Review

Last year I decided to compare the carbon emissions of a ferry-rail journey to a flight, from Ireland to the UK. The research took a lot longer than I anticipated; it turns out that the internet is full of aged, blunt, biased, or limited carbon-emission calculators, which gave answers ranging from 41kg to 900kg for the same flight. ! Here’s 5 I reviewed… read on to find out the best one!

For each calculator I used the example of a flight from Dublin Airport to Leeds-Bradford, a distance of 357km.

1. The Guardian – Quick Carbon Calculator

– really well-designed, has an infographic displaying results

– old. I suspect (and pray) the estimate was pretty far off.

– more for general lifestyle than strict travel-mode comparison.

ESTIMATE: it told me 1 shorthaul return trip would emit 900 kg of CO2.

2. www.RESURGENCE.org

– gives the opportunity for a precise breakdown of household fuel usage and travel.

– does not seem to be accurate on carbon emissions for flights.

ESTIMATE: its estimate for a 400 mile short-haul flight, one-way, was 173kg.


– has a flight function

– allows you to put in 3-letter IATA code instead of airport

– has option to include radiative forcing*

– stable and fast, gave answer of 50 kg

– also has calculators for house, motorbike, car, bus and rail, and ‘secondary’ emissions (food etc.)

– Personally I don’t like the text screaming at you to pay for offset.

ESTIMATE: it gave me an answer of 50 kg

4. International Civil Aviation Organisation

– stable and fast

– to me, a clueless consumer, this seemed to be the second-most accurate calculator.

– not very beautiful

– flight only

ESTIMATE: I was given result of 41kg

5. Atmosfair

– includes flight distance

– has an option for aircraft type or automagically shows the airlines who service that route

– knows the aircraft used by particular airlines, and uses that info in the calculation

– Aso from text accompanying result I assume it includes winglets (which has an impact on emissions) and CEP (climate efficiency points – which I know nothing about) in its calculations

– can’t find a single flaw. !

ESTIMATE: this calculator gave 2 results, depending on which air carrier I chose to fly with. Ryanair = 46kg, Aer Lingus = 110kg.

Conclusion: to a clueless consumer, Atmosfair seems by far the best flight emissions calculator. The consumer can tweak many knobs when inputting data, plus their documentation is published on-site; this gives me the impression of a rigorous research foundation. I’m really impressed, and I’ll be using this service from now on.

*Carbon emissions from planes at high altitude have an increased effect on global warming. Some calculators allow you to multiply aviation emissions by DEFRA‘s recommended Radiative Forcing factor of 1.891

An Eco-Friendly Fry

I’m a big fan of the ‘Full Irish’ breakfast.

But I calculated that it contains around 288g of pork, which according to this article, produces around 1.76kg of carbon dioxide.

So, to assuage my ecological conscience, I limit the ‘Full Irish’ to special occasions.

However, today I just figured out that a typical fry provides at least 33.9g of protein, which is more than your body can process efficently .

Typical fry ingredientsgrams of protein
2 slices of pudding5.6g
2 rashers7.4g
3 sausages9.9g
1 egg6g
2 slices of toast5g
Total grams of protein33.9g

It seems gratuitous to eat a meal which has a high carbon footprint, when it doesn’t even provide optimal nutrition.

So my new resolution? From now on, my fancy-schmancy breakfast of choice shall be eggs.

But on Those Days when I Just Want A Fry … I could

a) just have my faves: pudding and sausages

b) or try having just one of each of the meats.

These eco-friendly tweaks produce less than half the carbon footprint, and the body can process the protein more efficiently.

‘One of each’ modelgrams of protein
1 slice of black pudding2.8g
1 rasher3.7g
1 sausage3.3g
1 egg6g
2 slices of toast5g
Total grams of protein20.8g
My favesgrams of protein
2 slices of pudding5.6g
3 sausages9.9g
2 slices of toast5g
Total grams of protein20.5g

Speaking of, now it’s time to get off this computer and have some food. Yum!


Carbon Footprint of Pork Industry


What does 20g protein look like? – vegetarian & vegan

Most of us should eat at least 20g of protein in every meal. Here’s a list of common vegetarian & vegan protein sources, with required portion size & approximate price included. Hrrrrmm… now all I want is a Fulfil bar… ! 🙂

FoodPortion req. for 20g proteinLooks LikeCost per portion / €Category
Protein powder30gone serving spoon1.51vegan
Fulfil bar20g1 bar2.99vegetarian
Feta cheese121g just over half a pack0.78vegetarian
Quorn138g just under half a pack3.45vegan
Eggs - whole150g3 medium eggs0.8vegetarian
Egg - whites150ml5 egg whites1.33vegetarian
Tofu167g just under half a pack1.25vegan
Cottage cheese179g 1 pack0.47vegetarian
Fat-free Greek yoghurt194g just under half a container1.2vegetarian
Kidney beans260gjust over 1 can0.7488vegan
Ricotta cheese285ga little more than 1 pack1.98vegetarian
Chickpeas298g1 and a 1/4 can0.36vegan
Lentils322g 1 and 1/3 can0.95vegan
Baked beans476g 1 can and a bit0.44vegan
Milk - cow588mla pint & a small glass0.62vegetarian
Milk - soy666mla pint & a glass1.44vegan



What does 20g of protein look like? – meat & fish

Most of us should eat at least 20g of protein in every meal. Here’s a list of common animal protein sources, with required portion size & price included. Top tip: meat portions are generally around the size of your palm. I must confess that tip doesn’t work for me, though, as I have pretty big hands. ! 🙂

FoodPortion req. for 20g proteinLooks likeCost per portion / €Source
Beef78galmost 1 burger0.67meat
Turkey80garound 4 sandwich slices0.62meat
Tuna80g1 small can0.7meat
Chicken87garound 4 sandwich slices0.62meat
Mackerel100g1 fillet0.75fish
Salmon105g 1 fillet1.45fish
Ham125garound 5 sandwich slices2.5meat
Prawns125g 1 pack2.82fish
Rashers134garound 5 rashers0.53meat
Basa143g 2/3rds of a fillet1.22fish
Black Pudding173garound 7 slices1.61meat
Sausages188g3 sausages0.74meat



Protein: Eat 20g. Frequently.

Protein is the very stuff we are made of, and yet most of us don’t know how much we need, or why. Here’s a few facts I found really helpful in improving my physical & mental health.

The amount of protein you should eat depends on loads of things, including:

– your gender

– your age

– your level of physical activity

– your health

– The basic recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of weight in untrained, generally healthy adults. So a person who weighs 68kg should consume 0.8 x 68 = 54g of protein a day.

– You can calculate exactly how much protein you should be eating here: https://www.calculator.net/protein-calculator.html

– There are tons of good reasons to eat protein, but one of the most important is that it reduces age-related muscle loss. As we age, we lose muscle, which reduces life expectancy, health, & well-being … but eating protein slows down this process. So if you’re over 65, please read this article, weigh yourself, and then start eating more than 2g of protein per kilogram of your body weight.

– We can only process a certain amount of protein in our bodies in one go. So going without protein all day, then eating a massive steak for dinner, won’t fulfil our protein needs that day. We have to eat protein at regular intervals, to stock up our bodies’ protein stores.

– In particular, ideally we eat protein in the 45 minutes after a workout to help the body recover.

– 20g-30g of protein is the optimal amount the body can process, and maximize recovery.

– We can get some protein from starchy carbs, but it’s quite little:

grams of protein
2 slices of toast5g
100g rice2.7g
180g potato3g

… so I’m now going to write another blogpost showing what 20g of protein from a high-protein food looks like.

Go n-éirí leat on your protein journey!








Speedy and Seasonal: 2nd Edition

After a year of experimenting with locally-grown vegetables, I’ve expanded my collection and slightly altered the format.

This time, I calculated every possible combination of vegetables grown monthly in Galway, Ireland.

I paired 2 vegetables with potato and a selection of protein sources available in Galway – plant-based, egg, cheese and fish.

I calculated how much of each protein source, combined with potato, would be needed to provide 20g of protein (the optimal amount for muscle protein synthesis[1].)

I then indexed all the combinations per month, and in order of popularity (as roughly indicated by Google search results).

I also listed them in alphabetical order (for that day when you sleep in, arrive late to the market and all that’s left is Jerusalem artichoke and swede. This way you don’t need to think about how much protein and potato you need for your basic dietary requirements – just look it up!)

So now, with 181 different vegetable combinations, here’s “Speedy and Seasonal”… take 2! Tá súil agam go mbainfidh sibh tairbhe as seo!


[1] https://www.precisionnutrition.com/protein-limit

Eating Seasonally in Ireland

Broccoli tomato

Eating local is key for lessening carbon footprint and opimtising scrumptiousness. But for meal-planning, that requires knowing what comes out of the earth, when! Cáit Curran, an organic and biodynamic farmer in Co. Galway kindly took the time to list all the veggies that come into season simultaneously for me. Here’s the low-down and dirty on the, well, low-down and dirty! 🙂

JANUARY: beetroot, cabbage – winter, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mixed leaves, parsnips, potatoes, sprouts, swedes

FEBRUARY: beetroot, cabbage – winter, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mixed leaves, parsnips, potatoes, sprouts, swedes

MARCH: beetroot, broccoli – sprouting, cabbage – winter, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, lettuce, mixed leaves, parsnips, potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, swedes

APRIL: asparagus, broccoli – sprouting, cabbage – winter, kale, leeks, lettuce, mixed leaves, potatoes, rhubarb, scallions, spinach

MAY: asparagus, broccoli – sprouting, cabbage – spring, carrots, lettuce, mixed leaves, rhubarb, scallions, spinach

JUNE: beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage – spring, carrots, cauliflower, courgette , cucumber, garlic, lettuce, mixed leaves, peas, potatoes – early, scallions, spinach

JULY: beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, courgette, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, mixed leaves, peas, pepper, potato, scallions, spinach, sweetcorn, tomato

AUGUST: beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, courgette, cucumber, lettuce, mixed leaves, peas, pepper, potato, scallions, spinach, sweetcorn, tomato

SEPTEMBER: beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, courgette, cucumber, lettuce, mixed leaves, parsnip, peas, pepper, potato, scallions, spinach, sweetcorn, tomato

OCTOBER: beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, kale, lettuce, mixed leaves, parsnip, pepper, potato, scallions, spinach, swede, tomato

NOVEMBER: beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kale, lettuce, mixed leaves, parsnip, potato, scallions, spinach, sprouts, swede

DECEMBER: beetroot, cabbage, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, lettuce, mixed leaves, parnsip, potato, scallions, spinach, sprouts, swede

My next step is going to be some recipes incorporating seasonally-available yumminess … watch this space!


Ferry or Flight?

Great news – just got asked to play Teesside Irish Festival. Wahoo!! Can’t wait, and thank you, Teesside Irish Society, for the invitation!! So now I ask my perennial life question … how on earth will I get there with the harp?

I find flying with the harp slightly stressful – how much of an overweight fee will they charge me this time? (It seems to depend on the person on the desk, rather than the airline.) Will my beloved instrument arrive at the other end?! (Not always!) So I like to minimise air travel if I can. Whereas with other areas of the world, the key question is ‘Which flight is cheapest?!’, when I’m going to the UK or France, there’s a little-known option… SailRail. Ferry companies Irish Ferries and StenaLine have really good ‘foot passenger’ deals which include the railfare from the port to your ultimate destination.

I’ve always wondered about the exact figures of SailRail versus flight, and because I don’t want to clean my house, it suddenly became very urgent that I research this question!! 🙂 So this is the summary:

Duration14 hours, 24 min8 hours, 23 min
C02 emissions25.7kg   55.9kg
Price€96 (Price of buying food in transit on long journey is a potential added cost.)€113.50 using bus for transfer; €208.50 with rental car; €90.50 if host can pick me up
HarpNo extra feeSome airlines charge extra fees at check-in
RelaxingI find trains and ferries very relaxing…. yum, seasaltFor me, planes are not as relaxing as trains and ferries
Last-minute bookingFare is consistently €97, even if travelling at short noticeFares increase dramatically if travelling at short notice

My first thought? The difference in the carbon footprint of SailRail versus flying is significant, but not as big as I thought it would be. It’s 30.2kg – same as driving an average car for a little over an hour. Conclusion: ideally I’ll choose SailRail, but if I can’t due to schedule considerations, I’ll offset the carbon on www.atmostfair.de (massive thanks to Méadhbh O’Leary Fitzpatrick for this idea!) – and/or try to cut a car journey from my week.

Image from http://www.yousustain.com/footprint/howmuchco2?co2=30.2+kg

Thought 2: Surprisingly, when I factor in all costs, the price of a flight is more or less the same as SailRail. However, this is only if I book in advance. If I buy the self-same flight with only 2 days’ notice, the fare increases by €87. So my conclusion is: if I have to go to the UK at short notice, SailRail is worth a look; but otherwise price is not a factor in ‘the fearsome fight of ferry versus flight’. (There’s a song in there somewhere.!)

Thought 3 – timing? Well, taking a flight reduces the journey from Galway to Middlesbrough by 6 hours. That’s either a massive or irrelevant difference, depending on the individual. Personally, I find travelling by train and ferry a lovely way to spend a day with someone, and a great way to relax or do admin. However, if I need to be practicing, or some Galwegians need attention, I can’t afford that day of travel. So the decision of SailRail vs flying will depend on my professional schedule and personal life at the time of the trip.

So after all my research, my surprising conclusion is that planes aren’t as bad as I thought for C02 emissions – but in the process, I found out that cars are relatively terrible. Oh dear. Watch this space for the next research question: what’s better for the environment – driving a ’99 Toyota Corolla into the ground or buying a new car??! But in the meantime… bring on the Teesside Irish festival!!


‘Carbon Emissions Compared for Different Forms of Transport’

Best carbon offsetting calculator I found: https://www.atmosfair.de/en/offset/flight

Brilliant infographic comparing carbon footprint of different methods of travel: http://clearlymagazine.com/travel-events/roll-off-ferry-reduce-holiday-emissions

SailRail with Irish Ferries

SailRail with StenaLine

Tool I use for calculating petrol: https://www.theaa.ie/routes/#

Excellent message boards plus integrated travel planner: https://www.rome2rio.com

Calculate duration between two times: https://www.timeanddate.com/date/timeduration.html

How to eat healthily for €32 a week

In my ideal world, I’d buy local and organic, and have tons of time to prepare delicious fresh meals for myself every day… or a personal chef. I (or my friendly chef) would consult with a dietician, and a personal trainer, in order to make the best choices for my health and the planet’s well-being. But at the moment… 

I love cooking, but my priorities are elsewhere (ALBUMMMM) so I don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking and washing dishes right now. I’m also a musician, so, ahem, on a budget, plus have a really irregular schedule where I’ll be in my house for weeks at a time, but then gone for a few days. (So if I buy fresh food it usually goes off 🙁 ) Last May I did start listening to my conscience about climate change and animal welfare, so decided to go veggie as much as possible. But that has even further complexified the daily challenge of feeding myself. 

So what’s a self-employed muso to do? 


So now, every 10 days or so, I go to my local supermarket (Aldi) and buy the ingredients for all the recipes… 

I spend a day batch-cooking, and cook 32-56 meals…  

… and then I divide the food into individual portions and put these in the freezer. Every night I take out 2 or 3 portions to defrost, and BOOM. Next day I wake up, and restaurant Úna is open for business!

My motivation for this wacky idea was my long-term health, plus efficiency, but I’m now ADDICTED to batch-cooking. I love preparing lots of food at one time – it feels nourishing as well as hyper-efficient. I love having food available without even thinking about it. I love, but LOVE, not having to wash dishes twice a day. (I actually quite enjoy washing dishes, but not absolutely everyday!). I love the fact that I get the right amount of veggies and protein into me at every meal without having to do the mental work of macronutrient calculations. I love the lack of stress around food waste – I don’t have to worry about food going off in my fridge. The fact that I batch-cook has inspired me to start buying frozen vegetables (FYI: just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts) so I’m using a wider range of ingredients, ergo my palate is getting more variety these days than before. And guess what? An unexpected side-effect of my batch-cook-and-freezing is that it’s *shockingly* cheaper. 

My latest food-shopping bill (completed while supposed to be writing a grant – oops), which provided 32 meals, came to €48.10.

Now, this bill changes a little each month (I buy fresh/frozen veg according to availability) but it’s generally around this number. €48.10 divided by the 32 meals it made, gives an average cost per meal of… bodhrán-roll, please…

€1.50 per meal. That means my total cost for eating 3 nutritionally-balanced meals a day for a week is €31.50. Pretty cool, huh??!

So if you’re interested in organizing your food in a cheaper, and/or faster way,

here’s my shopping list,

here are my recipes, and

here are my tips!!

Go n-éirí leat – may they bring you towards health, music, and yumminess!


Úna’s Batch-Cooking Tips

  • I buy all the ingredients on my batch-cooking shopping list, except for tamari and occasionally tofu, in Aldi . It just happens to be the closest budget supermarket. Based on a quick gawk, Lidl is probably just as good.
  • Ask at the supermarket what days and times they get their deliveries of veg, plus what time they usually get the veg on display, and schedule your food-shopping accordingly. I find frozen spinach sells out really quick in Aldi… us Galwegians are more health-conscious than we give ourselves credit for 🙂
  • I found out the hard way that bags of frozen vegetables leak water. My kitchen is quite small, and I couldn’t figure out a place to put the voluminous bags of frozen vegetables until it was time to cook them. My (kinda wacky) solution is … I put them in my shower!! It’s a bit mad, but it means I don’t have puddles of water in my apartment – always nice. ! 😉
  • Cooking devices with timers are crucial. Confession: I choose to steam, grill and microwave food, not for reasons of health or taste, but … because my steamer, grill and microwave have timers. I fill them up, then go off and do nerdy musical things!
  • How many big mixing bowls do you have? That, plus the size of your cooking devices, will dictate how many recipes you make at once. I have 2 big mixing bowls, so I make 2 recipes at once.
  • You’ll have to experiment to find out to how big a batch you can comfortably cook with the space, devices and cookware available to you. Based on the size of my frying pan, steamer, and 2 mixing bowls, I find it’s best if I stick to cooking batches of 8 portions at a time. (I’ve tried 16 – it got a bit messy. !)
  • What’s your cooking plan? Well, the fact that all the ingredients of a meal don’t have to arrive on a table at the same time means you don’t really need one! For time-efficiency, I try to have all devices in the kitchen working simultaneously – e.g. have tofu marinading, vegetables steaming, potatoes microwaving, rice simmering, fresh veg grilling, and something frying all at once. Once an ingredient is ready, I put it in a big mixing bowl dedicated to that recipe. When all ingredients are ready and in the bowl, I mix it all together.
  • I originally tried dividing portions by weight – I found that very time-consuming. Now I mix / put the whole mixture into a rectangular-shaped receptacle, flatten it a bit, then divide the rectangle roughly into the appropriate amount of portions with a sharp knife. I then ladle each portion into a …
  • resealable freezer bag, which is more space-efficient than a freezer container. After use, I wash each bag and re-use.
  • In case I want to feed a few people at the same time, I put 8 portions in one big freezer container.
  • Sounds obvious, but: I let all the food cool to room temperature before I put it in the freezer. That way I minimise my valiant little freezer’s energy use.
  • When taking out a meal portion to defrost, leave it in the sink / on your draining board so it doesn’t leak all over the kitchen.

… So that’s it! Let me know via Facebook or Insta how you get on!!

go n-éirí leat,