Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lighter footprint

Gimmick or useful tool? Judge for yourself.
The carbon footprint online calculator allows you to put in data and then check how you score against the average Uk family. There is also a USA calculator if you live further afield.

In my case, my personal primary footprint is 990 against a UK national average of 5013 and the amount we are aiming at individually to have an impact on global warming would be 2500 per person.

The website goes on to give hints as to how you reduce your carbon footprint, and one of the biggest changes you can easily make is to change your energy supply from usual suppliers to renewable energy suppliers. To check out the difference you can check out with uswitch how much more or less it would cost you. In practice for us it has increased the cost by 10% but reduced our footprint by 750kg per year.

There are a lot of useful tips and easy measures to reduce your primary footprint. The secondary footprint takes more effort and depends on your consumer habits. We have ticked off many of the following suggestions :
1. - reducing your meat consumption - eat 3 meat meals per week and only buy locally produced organic meat.
2. Do not buy bottled water, use tap water instead. We also do no longer buy cordials, lemonade, coke etc but instead drink herbal teas, fruit cordials made at home or just....water.
3. Buy local fruit and vegetables or grow your own - we grow our own apart from oranges, lemons etc. We eat in season as much as possible and growing vegetables takes about 15 mins work a day. The rest depends on cooperation of weather, soil conditions and garden pests.
4. Shop locally, visit farmer's markets and engage in your local foodproducing community.
take a shopping bag, cash and build up muscle power.
5. Do not buy overpackaged goods. Choose them loose and use paper bags or packaging that can be recycled.
6. Avoid products made in China and India - because they travel far and you could be selective and purchase items made in countries that are ecologically aware. ( if you do choose products made in other countries you may by your consumption be unwittingly adding to the global footprint).
7. Check out your leisure activities - do they add to the carbon emissions or are they reducing them. The question to ask yourself here is I adding to the solution or the problem here?

On balance, we need to stop doing things on automatic and take responsibility for the choices we make. It is a continious process and takes time, but one step at a time gets you there.
All you need to do is make a start.

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