Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stinky footprints

I'm feeling a little frustrated and out of my depth today. I think the best way to start this journey is with a base measurement of our carbon footprint. From there I can see where the biggest problems are, and I can set a quantifiable goal to aim for, right?

The problem is, no two sites/calculators give me the same answer, and I'm not gifted mathematically to figure things out on my own, or to check their data. After looking at several, I've decided to stick with the calculator at The data their calculator requires is the most specific, and it asks about secondary considerations like food purchasing and eating habits.

Some things are hard to calculate, because we just moved to a new house, closer to everything we do. We've started getting bills & such, but a lot of the data is spotty because we've lived here such a short time.

My results:

Your Carbon Footprint:

0.02 metric tons of CO2
0.00 metric tons of CO2
0.24 metric tons of CO2
0.00 metric tons of CO2
0.00 metric tons of CO2
0.43 metric tons of CO2

Total = 0.69 metric tons of CO

This equates to 9.8 metric tons a year, or 21,605.3017 pounds a year.

The site says that 20.4 metric tons is average in the U.S. and the EPA states that 145,250 pounds is average for an American family of seven. I seriously doubt we're that far below the national average. We fly occasionally. And the driving average is a total guess since we just moved. It's summer and that skews things too. But still, these calculations are a starting place.

Since I don't have a previous year's worth of data, I'd like to quantify in another ways. We have a large city-issued trash container which we fill every week. I'd like to reduce the amount of weekly waste going out to the street by half. This should help me tell if we're reducing packaging and recycling more.

I'd like to get that metric ton number down below 7. Two metric tons per year is the target to combat climate change, according to the calculator I used, but I'm going to start by aiming at 7 and see what that looks like. If that's easy, then we'll aim for 5, etc.

This isn't the most scientific of beginnings, I realize. I hope to refine my understanding and my quantifying as I go. If I wait until I'm 100% comfortable with the numbers and the calculations, I'll never begin. I'm jumping in now while the fire is in me to make a change. 

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