Jan/10

7

Not Bigfoot, but Footprint Resembles Bozo

Challenge #1: What’s your carbon footprint?

Do you ever look in the mirror before heading out to visit friends, and you think you look alright…only to later see photos of yourself and wonder “Is that how I really look now!?” Sometimes seeing an unbiased, unflattering view of yourself can be a motivating factor to make some changes.

When estimating our footprint using the San Diego Zoo’s carbon footprint calculator, we found that we contribute approximately 22.5 tons of carbon emissions per year. Out of curiosity, we wondered how we might fare using other tools such as Carbonfootprint.com, which estimated us at 14.12 tons, and Nature.org, which suggested we contributed a whopping 41 tons per year. Ouch!

Regardless of the exact number, one undeniable fact rings true for each survey: we emit more than we thought we did, but a bit less than the average U.S. household, and way more than the average household worldwide. We have a lot of work to do to reduce our emissions wherever possible!

The battle between Mom and Mother Earth…watch out, this could get ugly!
Perhaps the largest contributing factor to our carbon footprint is the flight miles we log very year. Traveling is our passion. That flight to Italy last year – well, it definitely tipped the scales in the direction of Bozo. I’m in the business of wildlife conservation, yet my flights to attend important conservation-related conferences don’t exactly help our carbon footprint. And last, but definitely not least, are our visits to dear old Mom and Dad (and brothers). Our families don’t live near us, and family is important, so flying home to California to visit with Alex’s parents, and flights to Philadelphia and road trips to Ohio to see mine can’t exactly get axed from our annual plans. Trust me – if it is a choice between visiting our flesh-and-blood human mothers or protecting Mother Earth, well, ahem, Mom will always come out on top (or Alex and I are dead meat!). We love you, Mom!

But, we also love Mother Earth, and we owe it to her to try harder. While cutting out flights isn’t a likely option for us this year, other options are, such as evaluating the energy efficiency of our home and making improvements wherever possible. Now that we have a small yard, I’m vowing to take up composting and organic gardening, and continuing to support local, organic farmers. We’ll also be in the market soon for a new energy-efficient water heater and washer and dryer, thanks in no small part to the helpful incentives of the new federal cash-for-clunker appliances program. (Helpful advice regarding the best models is most welcome!)

Our footprint is bigger than we suspected it might be, and it’s time to trim the fat off that footprint. Watch out Bozo, we’re coming for you!

Sharon Dewar and Alex Yates

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1 Comment for Not Bigfoot, but Footprint Resembles Bozo

SmartAlexander | January 8, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I heard that Virgin Airlines is trying to get air traffic controllers to not have planes circle in the sky but instead have them park on the runway until a gate is available, thus saving fuel costs. Any other ways air travel can have a reduced carbon footprint?

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