Yikes! I calculated my carbon footprint as an exercise with one of my environmental science classes and realized that despite my driving a hybrid vehicle, my car-based footprint is really big. Driving to the fitness studio five minutes from my house a few days a week really adds up and piles on to my 22-mile round trip commute to work. Home energy use was my second biggest carbon contributor. Having made the move a couple of years ago from a small condo to a single family home increased my energy use quite a bit.
On the plus side, my 25+ year vegan diet has a much lower carbon footprint than that of an omnivore or heavy meat eater, and it’s even significantly lower than that of a vegetarian. What I have learned during my nearly decade of teaching about climate change and other environmental issues is that a vegan diet is the best thing you can do to reduce not only your carbon footprint, but your overall impact on a wide range of environmental issues (habitat loss, eutrophication, water pollution….the list goes on) not to mention the potential to solve food shortage issues. The Guardian has a great summary article, but there are lots of peer-reviewed scientific reports that provide data to support this.
I asked my students (and myself) to come up with at least one action (daily, weekly, yearly…) that they could reasonably take to reduce the amount of carbon that each sector of their lifestyle contributes to the atmosphere. As a group we examined diet, home energy use, transportation, and apparel. Some of them took it more seriously than others of course, but I took the opportunity to survey my own lifestyle.
First, to make myself feel better, I made a list of things that I do on a regular basis that reduce my carbon emissions:
Then I made a list of things I think I can start to do or do more of:
So far I’ve turned the water heater down. I actually I think I can turn it down even more. I’m going to experiment with it. And just yesterday I bought a second clothes drying rack, so I’m on track for laundry air drying. The refrigerator is on a list of things to do for the house (it’s never ending!) and will probably happen during a kitchen makeover.