Living green

Having traveled for work each week since the start of the year, I've been on a lot of planes. That bothers me, and not for the obvious reason that I don't like to be away from the family, but I know that air travel is the largest component of my carbon footprint.

A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. I'm not a rabid tree-hugger, but I do want to live responsibly and leave the earth in good shape for my kids after I turn into compost.

The first step in trying to live green is to know how well (or poorly) you're doing right now. There are numerous calculators to help you determine your carbon footprint, and they vary wildly. On an annual basis, Climatecrisis.net calculated my footprint to be 5.7 tons of CO2, Conservation International pegged my output at 7.9 tons of CO2, GE said I produced 5.76 tons of CO2, and CarbonFootprint.com calculated my output of CO2 to be 7.758 tons. So which is it? I think GE is probably closest as they asked more in-depth questions about how I live. According to GE, the average American is responsible for 9.96 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

So great--I'm below average. But the above calculations excluded my air transportation. Add those in, and I'm an abuser of the planet. Climatecrisis.net now has me at 16.2 tCO2, Conservation International shows I produce 27.6 tCO2, GE reflects 13.52 tCO2, and CarbonFootprint.com calculates my annual CO2 output at 24.766 tons.

Until my employer offers me the ability to pay for (and expense!) carbon offset credits from a company like TerraPass, Carbonfund, LiveNeutral, or NativeEnergy, I'll continue to work to reduce my carbon output from other activities. Click here for some simple steps to help reduce your carbon footprint.