I never thought about it until recently that Texas has the largest carbon footprint of any state, ranked #1 at 24.973 CO2 emissions per capita (in metric tons).
I have been thinking about that. My younger brother lives in Austin, Texas. During the past week I have probably communicated with him more than in the entire past year, touching base with him daily to make sure that he was okay in the middle of what was an unprecedented back-to-back terrible winter snow and ice storms.
Source: Photo courtesy of Robert Sasaki Jr.
He had no water and fortunately only intermittent power loss. He and his neighbors were literally frozen in place, their vehicles stuck in ice in their parking lot and unable to go anywhere.
Luckily things improved in time before he ran out of food and water, but he is just one of many that have been impacted by incredibly drastic weather from the result of climate change. Just a few weeks before there was a massive avalanche caused by a melting Himalayan glacier in Northern India that took the lives of many and destroyed everything in its’ path. According to scientists, this melting of glacial ice is a direct result of climate change.
It's gotten to the point where there's absolutely no denying that we are in a global crisis and action needs to be taken. We need to make fundamental changes to our choice patterns our methods of conducting our daily lives and how we go about our business. A lot of the heavy lifting of these changes needs to be done by corporations and industries.
That being said, there are still many things that one can do individually in their day to day life that can help effect positive change. We are not helpless and we can be accountable.
You can't avoid noticing how climate change has been in the forefront of the news as of late. If you watch 60 Minutes you've recently seen Bill Gates’ interview talking about the climate crisis and his initiatives to combat it; CNN.com has a whole section devoted to it.
“Carbon footprint” is now a common term and people are aware of the need to reduce it. That is good, because acknowledging this is the first step to accountability. We must be accountable and face this as a society and as the species now. It is a mountain of a task but none of us are powerless-we all have the power to do something.
I was thinking about the Texas devastation and when came across and article about carbon footprint tracking by Suzanne Bearne, published by the BBC News.
In her article, Suzanne talks about several carbon tracking apps which help individuals and companies get a grip on their carbon footprints and gives them suggestions on how to offset it.
Reading her article and looking into the apps she recommended (and others) reiterated to me that there many things that we can do as individuals that will help impact this crisis. We're all in this together.
Suzannes' article inspired me to check out what’s available out there and to see what my carbon footprint is. Here are a few ways to find out your footprint:
One of the apps mentioned in Suzannes’ article is Capture at capture club.com. This app can be downloaded onto your phone and it makes it really easy to track your carbon output and help you reduce and remove some of the CO2 emissions from your everyday life. It is compatible with Apple and Android. The app is easy to download and enables you to set a monthly CO2 goal and track it. You can see the carbon difference between walking or driving in a car versus taking a bus. It enables you to get real-time feedback and gives tips and articles to help on your progress towards a planet friendly lifestyle. You can make an account and engage with others in the community of people that are also striving to do the same thing. There is also a team option if you are a business-you can use it with your employees or customers. There is also newsletter that you can subscribe to as well.
Source and image: https://www.thecapture.club
Another app mentioned in the article is Pawprint. This also has a personal and a business option as well. Pawprint was founded by a team of like-minded people that knew that they were never going to be perfect but were looking to improve their carbon footprint in big way or a small way. The basic concept is based on that every little thing that you can do is contributing to the bigger picture.
Source: Pawprint graphic from: https://dailybusinessgroup.co.uk/2019/08/pawprint-allows-consumers-to-track-personal-carbon-footprint/
You can find out more about those apps and others by following the link below to Suzanne Burns article on bbc.com.
There are also online options for tracking your carbon footprint, one of which is Terrapass.com.
If you go to the site you will see that it gives you options for calculating for individuals or businesses and events. It’s very simple to navigate and gives you information on their principles, the projects they support and are involved in.
Source and image: https://www.terrapass.com/carbon-footprint-calculator?utm_source=ppc&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=experiment_2&utm_term=exp2_calculator_1&gclid=Cj0KCQiAj9iBBhCJARIsAE9qRtAY5L0X7MIZDUAXB4hykZGCqgXBkArYwNz17XhCTruC2OBEY_vEIeQaAj8qEALw_wcB
4) United Nations Carbon Offset Platform
The UN is another site with a carbon footprint calculator. It sends you through a very simple process that asks you questions about your way of getting around, your lifestyle and it also auto adjust for the country that you live in as well as the number of people in your household. there are places to enter the approximate square footage of your house, your amount of travel and distance, etc. and it's a good way of getting an understanding of how much carbon you are using from week to week.
Source and image: https://offset.climateneutralnow.org/footprintcalc
I also happened to get a notice of a new app in the Apple App Store called Zero-Carbon 2030. This app is a shopping app that'll show you stores in your search area that have committed to reducing their carbon footprint. It will show you businesses that share your concerns about carbon emissions and lets you know if a company that you've searched out is looking to be 0 carbon by 2030.
Source and image: https://zero-carbon2030.org/the-carbon-rating-finder-app-is-now-available-for-download/
This is great because, as you know, it's all up to personal choice and it'll help you make shopping decisions to support like-minded businesses easier.
The app allows you to look up and compare the carbon ratings of companies based on their climate commitments and actions. It gives you information to make smart and climate-friendly purchasing decisions. You can also suggest to Apple what companies you think should be rated. Per Zero-Carbon, “our goal is to empower consumers and give them transformative transparent information and data about the companies that we are buying from so that we can make conscious decisions if we choose to”.
This just came out around February 19th and it's available on Apple at the Apple Store and on Google on Google Play.
6) The Nature Conservancy
I decided to see what my footprint was and used the tracking feature from The Nature Conservatory. I found questions and answers on this feature very similar to what I found on the other platforms.
Nature.org and all the platforms mentioned (except Zero-Carbon) ask a series of questions like these:
- Number of people in your household
- Average income
- Where you live
- Approximate house size
- Approximate heating bill
- Approximate annual water bill
- Approximate annual electric bill
- Number of vehicles
- Average MPG per vehicle
- Average yearly mileage per vehicle
- Average annual travel by air, or other method
- Eating habits-broken down by average consumption of meat, poultry seafood; dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables
And so on. You fill out the answers and follow the prompts.
Overall, it is a very quick and easy series of similar questions asked by each of these platforms. It probably took me no more than 15 minutes at the most. Within minutes you can calculate your carbon footprint. Here is mine below.
After that you can then tab on to suggestions of how you can improve your carbon footprint by category. This site broke the categories down into 3 main ones-travel, home and diet. It gives a list of very actionable suggestions appropriate to each category. As you can see, I am better than average but still have work to do.
These are not some extraordinary far-reaching suggestions; they are mainly very simple things like eating more vegetables; shifting to a more vegetarian, sustainable type of diet. Use low-flow faucets and toilets, use rechargeable batteries; again very, very easy actionable things.
Some of the other suggestions are things like ride a bike to work , telecommunicate, carpool and take public transportation. In the home portion it suggested things like turning off light switches (which I) lower your household thermostat, purchase high-efficiency cooling/heating units and use Energy Star Products. We recently had to buy a new fridge, water heater and heating cooling unit and I am proud to say we checked off all those boxes. I also had to upgrade our bathrooms and used it as an opportunity to buy and install low flow faucets, showerheads and toilets. I am happy to share that not only did I make a positive impact on lowering my carbon footprint but my energy and water bills came down as a direct result of purchasing and using more efficient products for each.
One of the things it suggested to me was to line dry clothing which truth be told, I should do more often and will get on when the weather cooperates. Another was to buy organic. Doing this process has also inspired me to drive less. I don’t drive a lot to begin with and my husband and I have hybrid carts, but I realized there are little trips that I can skip using the car. I live close to many of my immediate needs and am making a “no car on the weekend” commitment and looking forward to getting a little more exercise out if it was well.
I have to confess that a month ago I wasn't aware that these websites or apps even existed. They were not on my radar but I happened to watch 60’s Minutes interview with Bill Gates and with the disaster faced by Texas that directly affected my brother, climate change and carbon emissions are now more front of mind. I see it, it's all around us, happening now.
I don't understand how people can't grasp that this is fact. I also believe it's not all doom and gloom. We as individuals have the freedom of choice. We can choose how we live and how we consume. We can ask questions and hold each other accountable. And there are each one of us can do that are not that hard. Choices like more efficient appliances reduce our carbon footprint and save us money overall. Walking instead of driving also gets you outside and gives you the benefit of exercise.
Collectively if we all do a little bit, a lot can get accomplished. We can reduce our carbon footprint individually and collectively. I think of it as drops filling a bucket. One drop doesn’t do much, but if you get a lot of drops filling that same bucket, that bucket gets filled! We all have the power of choice in how we live, how we vote and what we buy.
At Terra Thread Home, we are pleased to offer carbon neutral, Fair Trade, luxury quality GOTS certified 100% organic cotton products for your home. Our bed sheets, blankets, bath robes, towels and muslin swaddle wraps are made sustainably and ethically from cotton from rainfed organic cotton farms in India. In addition, Terra Thread Home is a proud participant in a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program where we support the FEEDING AMERICA initiative for helping those who are food insecure. We contribute to help end food insecurity in the U.S. through Feeding America. Through the Tony Robbins One Billion Meals Challenge, we can have double the impact.
Source: Photo courtesy of Terra Thread Home
Together, we can make changes that can do good that gives us back good!