Carbon and You

updated: April 11, 2012

by Jan R. Markle

If you’re wondering what you can do to affect climate change and peak oil, there are campaigns online suggesting ways to cut your personal production of carbon as well as carbon footprint calculators (scroll down) that figure out how much carbon you produce.

Can you cut your fossil fuel use? How low can you go?

Two Carbon Reduction Campaigns (from 2009)

1. The No Impact Week,  the one-week carbon cleanse, based on the “No Impact Man,” Colin Beavan, (See Beavan on the Colbert Report) who lived with his wife and 2 year-old in NY City for a whole year only buying fresh food, riding bikes,  not creating any waste and not using any paper products, including toilet paper! (See NY Times, The Year Without Toilet Paper) And that was on the 9th floor of an apartment building! His conclusion is that changing your habits will not only help the earth but will help you to save money, lose weight, have more time and live healthier and happier.

This campaign has been taken up by the Huffington Post.  See No Impact Week at HuffPo and download their No Impact Guide with suggestions for cutting carbon in different areas of your life, one type of change on each day for a week.

The topics for the week are-

Sunday: Consumption– stop buying things

Mon: Trash-stop making trash; reduce, reuse, recycle, [and repair.]

Tues: Transportation– no fossil-fuel-based form of travel. No planes,  taxis, cars, elevators. [Carpools, subways, buses and motorbikes might be considered a second tier to attempt to cut. Bicycles and walking is ok.]

Wed: Food-eat only local, seasonal, unpackaged food

Thurs: Energy-unplug, turn it off, power down, go off the grid.

Fri: Water– turn off the faucet, run water gently, soak the dishes, sponge-bathe, flush less, recycle shower water to garden, drink tap water,

Sat: Giving back-volunteer for an environmental organization

Sun: Eco-Sabbath-for one afternoon or one hour, take a break from everything! Don’t buy anything, use any machines, switch on anything electric, answer your phone…don’t use any resources!

2. There is also the UK 10-10 Caampaign begun by Franny Armstrong, the filmmaker who made the Age of Stupid. The Guardian newspaper has taken up the campaign and posts on their website all kinds of information on carbon production with plans for individuals, schools and businesses to cut 10% of their carbon… Check their 10/10  plan below for individuals and download the list for your frig (pdf). [This plan has checkboxes to be “ticked,” or checked off, when the goal has been accomplished.]

Cut 10%

The simplest way to tackle your 10% cut is to use the 10:10, 10-point checklist:

1 Fly less, holiday more
Swap plane for train, holiday nearer to home and take fewer but longer trips – same tanning time, dramatically less climate change emissions. Never fly or only one return flight a year? Tick the box right now.
2 Save 10% on heating
Turn down your thermostat, turn off radiators in hallways and more jumpers all round. Then apply for a grant to insulate your loft & walls. Use your bill to see whether you cut 10% in 2010 and tick if you succeeded. Don’t use gas or oil? Tick the box.
3 Save 10% on electricity
Save big cash by changing lightbulbs, replacing old fridges & freezers and always turning stuff off. Use your bill to compare 2009 usage to 2010. Produce your own electricity from solar or wind? Tick box.
4 Drive less
Leave your car at home one day a week. Walk, cycle or take public transport. Join a car-club rather than owning your own and share your ride to work with a colleague or two. No car? Tick the box.
5 Eat better
Local, in-season fruit & veg produce the least emissions – and the less processed the better. Have one meat-free day per week – but don’t replace with just-as-bad cheese. Don’t eat meat or dairy? Tick away.
6 Buy good stuff
Less stuff made = less emissions = less climate damage. So buy high-quality things that last, repair broken stuff rather than chucking, buy & sell second-hand and borrow your neighbour’s mower. Never buy new? Really?
7 Dump less
Avoid excess packaging and buying pointless stuff that goes straight in the bin, recycle everything possible and compost your food waste. No garden or scared of worms? Let you off the composting.
8 Don’t waste food…
The average British family throws away £50 worth of food every month. So don’t buy or cook more than you need and eat up those tasty leftovers. With a smile on your face. Never ever waste a drop or morsel? Tick away.
9 … or water
Your tap water uses lots of energy – and then heating it in your home uses loads more – so take showers rather than baths, be careful when watering plants and only run full dishwashers & washing machines. Don’t use water? What, you’re an alien?
10 Feel happier
…You’re healthier for walking & cycling, you’ve made new friends from swapping stuff & car-pooling, you’ve saved a big chunk of cash… and you know that you’re part of the global effort to prevent catastrophic climate change… Tick the box?
Carbon Footprint Calculators

Here are some carbon footprint calculators for you to determine your own production of carbon in our one and only world:

Footprint calculator-how many planets does it take to support your lifestyle? (create an avatar then watch your world, and your emissions,  build)

CO2 emissions calculator -how much you generate and how many trees needed to offset it.

Ecological footprint -area of land and ocean required to support your footprint.

The Nature Conservancy Carbon Footprint Calculator

Other calculators:

Carbon footprint calculator -UK- house, car, flying, bus, lifestyle.

US Dept. of Energy -ways to save energy with vehicles, buildings, homes, industry

Electrical Energy cost calculator -cost to use lights, appliances, laundry.

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