My footprint

I am sharing my efforts to live more sustainably. I first took the ecological footprint quiz in 2005 and found that I was one of the worst culprits of using more than my share. It would take over 8 earths to support humanity if everybody lived the same lifestyle as I did. By 2009, I had reduced my footprint so that we would need “only” 4 earths if everyone lived like me. In 2011, I switched to a more detailed calculator because it accounts for some of the more specific changes I was making. The results have been eye-opening. Clearly there is a need to both reduce resource consumption and create innovations that make even greater reductions possible. I still have a long way to go…

I encourage everyone to take the footprint quiz!

2014 – 34 tons of carbon dioxide emissions

Justification for the increase is here.

2012 – 31 tons of carbon dioxide emissions

I cut back some more on work-related air travel and my wife and I continue to be more conscious about the carbon impact of our food choices. Honestly, both of these changes have also improved our quality of life. The downside is that I am still way above both the world average (10 tons) and targets for a sustainable world (2.5-5 tons).

2011 – 33 tons of carbon dioxide emissions

We bought a Prius (used) to replace our other car, which was totaled in a fender-bender. I’ve tried to cut back on work travel that is not essential and we also installed a tankless hot water heater, which appears to be saving some energy each month. My carbon footprint went down a little and at 33 metric tons is below average for the U.S. (49 metric tons), but much higher than the global average (10 metric tons).

2010 – 35 tons

I switched to UC Berkeley’s carbon calculator for 2010 because it allows more specific information than the ecological footprint calculator I was using previously. My carbon footprint of 35 metric tons is below average for the U.S. (49 metric tons), but much higher than the global average (9.8 metric tons).

2009 – 3.9 Earths Needed

I think a lot of my reduction in footprint for 2009 is due to the increased detail in the footprint quiz, which now accounts for many of the energy saving strategies we use at home. I also made a conscious effort to reduce “unnecessary” air travel (I rationalized trips to Hawaii and Italy as definitely necessary).

2008 – 5.5 Earths Needed

When relocating in 2008, we selected a home that minimizes our “shelter” footprint, but the increased square footage led to a large increase in my “goods/services” footprint. I reduced my “food” footprint by selecting more locally grown produce and reducing my consumption of meats. However, my mobility footprint increased significantly, due primarily to work-related air travel.

2007 – 4.8 Earths Needed

My decrease in footprint for 2007 was disappointing. The only lifestyle changes I made that registered in the footprint quiz were to select more local foods, and to apply energy conservation in our townhome. I targeted some larger impacts for 2008.

2006 – 5.2 Earths Needed

Moving closer to my daily activities and using a bicycle to commute, I was able to significantly reduce my footprint. I also saved a lot of money and time that I used to spend on my commute. Finally, I found myself being more productive due to the spurts of bike-riding throughout the day.

2005 – 8.3 Earths Needed

When I first took the footprint quiz, I was commuting an average of 100 miles per day by myself in an inefficient automobile. When I saw that it would take 8.3 Earths to support everyone living the same lifestyle as me, I realized I needed to change.