What do you know about your carbon footprint? What is a carbon footprint? According to Carbon Earth ( http://www.carbonearth.co.uk/carbon-footprint-facts.htm). Your carbon footprint is a measure of how your home and social activities impact the earth/environment in relation to the greenhouse gases you produce each year (measured in tons of carbon dioxide). Do you know how you measure up? Neither did I until I used this handy-dandy footprint calculator. http://www.carbonearth.co.uk/CarbonEmission.asp#Your_personal_carbon_footprint_calculator. I’m not exactly Sasquatch in relation to my fellow Americans, but in terms of the rest of the world, I’m the Abominable Snowman. And so are you. The only bright spot: While the average American’s carbon footprint is still much larger than China’s average citizen, China did surpass the US in total carbon emissions by about 80 percent in 2011. Clearly, there’s some tarnish on that silver lining, but we’re grasping at positive straws here.
So, what to do? It’s a big world and you’re only one person, right? Yes, but we would argue that change starts with one person. It’s the whole pebble-in-the-water/ripple-effect thing. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint today—right now—where should you start? If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times, start with buying local and buying organic. If you bought it from the farmer right outside of town instead of flying it in from Peru, think about all the gas you’d save. And that’s just the beginning of the benefits! Just for the record, we would like to add “eat seasonal” to this rule, as well. It only makes sense.
What else? Keep the packaging to a minimum. Try to frequent stores that keep their packaging scarce, like offering loose tomatoes instead of ones wrapped in plastic. In general, regarding resources, choose plastic over paper, but the best choice is reusable shopping bags. Bring them yourself. You don’t have to worry so much about the packaging at Brown Bag because we did it for you. We use plant-based, petroleum-free packaging that is biodegradable and compostable. We buy post-consumer products and choose recycled products whenever possible, too. We enjoy doing our part.
Here’s something you can do right now that’s super-easy: Unplug electronics that you don’t use all that often and/or aren’t in use. Did you know that LCD TVs use about 43 percent more electricity than old-style picture-tube sets? Electronics, even in standby mode, continue to draw energy. Unplug it when you’re not watching! Easier still—use a power strip and flick everything off at once. Done! How about reduce/reuse/recycle? Still a great way to shrink that footprint!
Try holding onto your old car if it’s in good working order. Yes, hybrids are great and we’re grateful to have them, but if you don’t need a new car yet, don’t buy one. It takes a lot of energy to build a hybrid (or any car, for that matter). Speaking of transportation, why not try the bus, train or subway? Or schedule your flights into non-stop trips whenever possible. Do you really want to stop in Chicago on your way from New York to Miami? We think not. You’ll get to the beach faster and save some fuel if you just go direct. Think about paying a few dollars more to do your part.
Other easy ways to shrink your big foot are: bundle your errands, turn your water heater to vacation mode (or turn it off!) while you’re away, use native plants in your landscaping, use cold water for laundry, and ditch your bottled water! Try filtering your water at home and using a refillable water bottle instead.
You have more power than you think, Sasquatch. Power to create problems and power to fix them them. Try the carbon footprint calculator, think about your life and some easy ways you could change it daily. Here’s an easy way to start—come to The Brown Bag for breakfast and lunch where we’ve put a lot of thought into what we can do every day to trim our carbon footprint. Your one simple decision pays it forward and multiplies. Wasn’t that easy?