September 3, 2009


Do you know what your carbon footprint is? I didn’t, but I took a little quiz to see what it was, and I am using more than the average American. The world-wide average for one person is 5.5 tons a year, and for Americans it’s 27 tons a year. I use 34 tons a year. I found this number by using the Nature Conservancy’s Carbon Footprint Calculator.1010-4

I think that my score was high for several reasons: I drive a lot and I drive a station wagon. I also don’t really recycle or compost. 1010-6There’s a campaign in the UK for people to take a pledge to try and reduce their carbon footprint by 10% by the end of the year 2010. It’s a small percentage and a small amount of time, but it is something almost everyone can do.  1010-3 There are a lot of simple things to do to help save energy and reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Turn down your heat by five degrees and add an extra layer of clothes and another blanket.
  • Check your tire pressure and your air filter in your car.
  • Eat more local food – if it doesn’t travel, it’s better for the environment.
  • Buy higher quality items – figuring that if they are more well-made, they will last longer.
  • Drive less – take public transportation, or bike to work one day a week.
  • Don’t waste food or water.
  • Buy antiques – it doesn’t take any additional resources to make them.

I am going to compare my electricity bills now and again in 12 months, and see if there’s any difference. I already go to the Farmers’ Market once a week, and will continue that. I already keep my house pretty cool in the winter, and keep the air conditioning at 80 in the summer (it’s the humidity that’s a killer). 1010-2

Start small. But start.


All images from here


  1. Thanks for the link. I participated and came out with only 24. Hard to believe since I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee. However, as a stay at home Dad, I don't drive as much as I used to. I am pretty good at recycling and that is thanks to our neighbors who for years harassed us to take the time to separate trash from recycles.

  2. Good on ya, Julio! I don't have a ton of trash, and my house is so tiny (11.5' wide) that there's not enough room for a recycling bin. I like this because 10% is an easy goal over a year.

  3. I'm off to see my numbers! Something so important, I think. Thanks for posting this!

  4. Meg- You might want to consider including this on your WHAT I want for Christmas List!

  5. You are amazingly up-to-date!

    I only heard about this on Radio 4 this morning.....

  6. Thanks for posting! I scored a 40 which is pretty good, could do better! Unbelievable photos!

  7. You got me thinking and I've just posted a little picture that might interest.

  8. when i lived in san francisco, if you didn't recycle, friends stopped talking to you. here in san diego, they are trying to get into it, but i still run across people who give me a quizzical look when i ask where the recycle bin is. the downside is, and the citizens of britain will attest to this, the new light bulbs we're all supposed to use are terrible. we bought some for the christmas tree last year, and it made everything bluish.

  9. The Brits will all be blind by the next generation or at least looking like moles!

  10. To sponsor my early retirement=sanity, 14 years ago, I gave up my car! When I need a car, my husband and I coordinate our schedules. I can walk to the grocery, the hardware store and two bookstores. I compost, every day. In winter I freeze the stuff and put it in the ground as the weather allows. I have planted over 40 trees on our little less than 1/3 acre lot. I give my newspapers and mags to friends who don't subscribe and try to recycle at the source seeking goods with least amount of packaging. I gave up buying bottled water (make our own with Waterwise distiller) and I gave up drinking soda. We don't have curbside recycling. The next push is taking what is left to the Walmart recycle center. That one makes me gag.

  11. Oooooohhh, I thought I was doing pretty well until I took the test. 33. Problem is when you have to travel by plane and long distances in car required for work. and I'd rather just turn off my lights and fumble around in the dark than install fluorescent lights. It casts that sickly glow.

  12. i was searching for cute pictures.While i am doing that i came to see your blog man. It really looks great

  13. For our household of two, our total came to 30. The average for American households of two is 53. So that's pretty good. But the world average is 11. We're obviously way above that.

    Since we live in Charles Village, it's easy to walk just about everywhere. I rarely use the car. And my husband bikes to work every day (though I'm not happy about that -- I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the doorbell rings and I see a cop standing out there with a grim look on his face).

    Of course recycling is a no-brainer; the city does everything but come into your house to pack it up for you. The weekly Farmers Market is two blocks from our house -- local, local, local! And yes, we have the fluorescent bulbs, but they come at a high environmental cost -- you can't just chuck them in the trash, though you know millions of people are doing just that. They contain mercury, which is highly toxic and verboten in landfills. Yet most people who are trying to do the right thing by buying them don't know that. So we're trading one lousy habit for another. I've had a spent fluorescent bulb sitting on the kitchen counter for months because I'm waiting for the city's annual hazardous waste collection day to dispose of it.

  14. Mine came out to 17 tons for a single person. I guess that's not too bad.


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