April 6, 2007

measuring my carbon footprint


We all know carbon is bad for the environment, causing global warming, right? I saw the movie.

I've been hearing a lot lately about reducing our "carbon footprint." I've also seen companies mentioning how they are "offsetting" their carbon footprint (even at Safeway and Whole Foods they say this). I wasn't really sure how big my carbon foot print was or how to go about offsetting it. After lots of searching I have found a bunch of resources. I'm sure there are even more, but this seems a good place to start.

Many of these sites will have calculators to help you determine your carbon footprint (either for yourself or for your home/family). The key factors seem to be driving, utility usage at home, and air travel. Some sites are more detailed than others in their calculations. For instance, some calculators will ask you how much you spend on your utility bill each month and average it across your region. Others will ask you to enter the specific kilowatt usage, which could be more accurate. Some calculators will ask you if your car is large or small, while others will let you select your specific make, model and year.

Once you calculate your carbon footprint you can determine how many offsets you need to purchase. Once you purchase your offsets, alternative energy projects will deliver clean, renewable energy to the grid on your behalf, displacing power that otherwise has to come from burning fossil fuels. The result is that for every kWh generated by a renewable generator, one kWh less is generated by fossil fuel plants. The alternative energy used may be wind, solar, hyro or even methane. The Native Energy website has a nice video explaining how offsets work. You can buy offsets per month, per year, or per flight depending on which website you use.

www.fightglobalwarming.com
www.terrapass.com (little bit more of a hard sell, but nicely designed site)
www.3phases.com
http://carbonfund.org
www.nativeenergy.com (nice video of how offsets work)
http://stopglobalwarming.org (a great organization to join, for free)
www.zerofootprintoffsets.com
www.begreennow.com (you have to "join" and log in to do anything. kind of a bummer)

I have to say, buying offsets doesn't seem cheap, but it sure increases the motivation to conserve. I read that buying certificates from third parties, such as these, may be cheaper than buying offsets from your utility company. See for yourself.

1 comment:

janet said...

Came by way of Ranch Journal.

You have lots of good stuff here. Will bookmark your site for sure.