Assessing our Household Carbon Footprint and Becoming Carbon Neutral
At the heart of JOOB is a commitment to the planet — to use eco-friendly fabrics, sustainable manufacturing practices, and volunteer at local environmental cleanup efforts. One of our resolutions this year is to be more conscious of our carbon footprint and take measures to lessen our carbon impact. That's why we've partnered with South Pole and Cool Effect to offset our — and JOOB's — carbon emissions. Curious about your own carbon footprint? Read on.
In order to lessen or offset your carbon impact, you first need to know what it is! There are quite a few household carbon calculators on the internet, but we chose the EPA Carbon Calculator. It’s very easy to use and it explains the assumptions and details of the calculations. Plus, it gives you ways to reduce your emission. You can also download the calculator as an Excel spreadsheet. However, one thing that was missing from the calculation on the EPA form was carbon emissions from our travel. If you travel frequently, it's important to include this number in your household emissions. According to Blueskymodel.org — an open-source website developed by MBA students from Wake Forest University — one mile of air travel in an average passenger aircraft produces approximately 0.24 pounds of CO2 per passenger per mile.
What are the key components to a carbon footprint? You can make this as detailed as you’d like, but this will get you started with a simple estimate.
- Car Travel - We input the miles commuted and total miles driven each year, and our car’s fuel efficiency and whether or not we get regular check ups for our car. We actually don’t drive that much, total for our household is 18,000 miles (2 cars). Total CO2 and equivalents (CO2e) - 6.62 tons of CO2 for our household.
- Household Emissions - Using the EPA calculator, you can estimate how much money you spend per month on natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, or and/or propane, or you can enter cubic feet, kilowatt hours, or gallons.
- Air Travel - Miles traveled per year. Calculate at .24 pounds of CO2 per passenger per mile.
- Emissions from Waste and Credits for Recycling - CO2 emissions from disposing of waste, minus recycling efforts
Here's what our emissions look like:
We were pretty alarmed by the results! Even though we consider ourselves environmentalists who spend a fair amount of time conserving and recycling, we were surprised by how much carbon we emit. And we are just two people! It certainly had us thinking about changing our habits and investing in more carbon offsetting projects — we hope you'll feel the same after doing this exercise yourself.
How can you lessen or offset your carbon impact? And what is a carbon credit?
Carbon credits can be purchased by individuals or businesses to offset their carbon emissions. It's sort of like buying stock in a company that is working toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You may be investing in a company that produces wind or solar energy, manufactures low-emission machinery, or repurposes methane from a cow farmer to feed a power station that previously ran on fossil fuel. Carbon credits are a way of assigning a monetary value to pollution while also funding projects to lessen it.
Here's how we (and JOOB) are offsetting our carbon emissions:
- Cool Effect - We recently purchased some offsets from Cool Effect, which enables people to invest in projects that have quantifiable improvements in CO2. We invested in a project that preserves grasslands, which are great absorbers of CO2 when left undisturbed.
- South Pole - To enable our household to become carbon neutral for 2018, we invested in a project managed by South Pole, a JOOB partner that receives a portion of our revenue to invest in carbon reducing projects around the globe. We chose the Siam Biomass to Energy Project to benefit Thailand, Nicha's home country.
And here's our total CO2 impact, after adding in our carbon offset credits:
We'll be keeping an eye on this and looking for ways to reduce our impact and give to more carbon offsetting projects as we head into 2019. What about you? Were you surprised by your results? How will you lessen your impact?
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