My family and I have been working hard all semester to improve our carbon footprint grades. And we have succeeded!
Each of our footprints dropped by 1 ton of CO2 per year when compared to just two months ago.
When I first calculated my footprint at the beginning of the school year, I had an idea of where I thought it would be. I knew my travel would be high because of my flying to and from Arizona and Emory. I also knew the home and services categories would be on the lower end because I live in a small dorm room. The category of footprint impact that I needed to improve was my food intake.
So I set the goal of monitoring my food intake to make smarter selections. Mainly, I reduced the quantity of beef and other ruminating meats in favor of chicken and other proteins that have a smaller footprint. Throughout the semester, I made active choices each time I ate.
This change alone contributed to a large portion of the 1 ton of CO2 per year that I shaved off my footprint. By further removing beef from my diet, and by substituting non-meat proteins as an alternative to meat-based meals, I could reduce my footprint even farther.
My carbon footprint food score dropped almost 1 ton of CO2 per year, making my score 50% better than the average single household.
My family’s initial footprint calculation was 58 tons of CO2 per year. Their main goal for reducing their footprint is to downsize their home now that all of the children are out of the house. That is a definite goal for the future, but not something they accomplished this semester. However, they did purchase a new vehicle. Their new Subaru gets much better gas mileage than our old van did, reducing their score by one whole ton of CO2.
Even though my family did not downsize their home yet, they are participating in a new program sponsored by their current energy provider. This program allows them to purchase 50% of their energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal. After re-calculating the footprint score using this program for utilities, their footprint is expected to drop an additional 4 tons!
My family was successful reducing their footprint to be 25% better than average for a household of three.
Curious about your family’s carbon footprint? Calculate it here: http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/