What’s your footprint?

While Earth Day was officially last month, Earth Day is every day for me. I’m always evaluating my life for ways to live more sustainably. Whether it be diet, mode of transportation, or other consumption habits, there’s always room for improvement somewhere.

I took this Carbon Footprint Quiz to see how my lifestyle choices stack up compared to the rest of the United States. I’d encourage you to take it as well. It’s an opportunity for reflection on your choices, and to see how they impact the world we all call home.

My footprint was a lower 7.3 tonnes of climate pollution until I added the two flights I took (both direct, one to the East coast and the other to London). I ended up with a score of 9.1 tonnes of climate pollution. That’s .9x the national average.

Despite my plant-based diet, biking to work, and shopping locally, the flights I took drastically increased my footprint. Another large factor in my 9.1 tonnes calculation, is the fact that I live alone and don’t control the efficiency of the appliances. Someday!

I’ll keep my flying to a minimum (and book direct flights), and until I’m living with someone in a home I own…I’ll continue implementing the below sustainability tips.

  1. Eat a plant-based diet. Consuming a heavily plant-based diet can make a HUGE difference in reducing your carbon footprint. Focus on seasonal local organic fruits and veggies.
  2. Shop at the farmers market. Buying your food locally means the food isn’t shipped from hundreds or thousands of miles away, eliminately at that fuel used to ship it. If you shop mainly at local markets, you’ll likely be eating less processed food and supporting the local economy. Win-Win-Win!
  3. Use a green mode of transport. When traveling to work, the grocery store, and anywhere else around town, try walking, biking, public transportation, or car-pooling. These modes are all good,  although my favorite are by far the first two.
  4. Spend your weekends in the areas around you. While I fully encourage traveling abroad (I wrote about that last week), I try to keep my flights to a minimum. Airplanes are a wonderful invention, but those suckers sure do use a lot of fuel. Since the most fuel is used during take off and landing, booking direct flights can decrease your fuel usage.

Those are my big four tips that everyone can implement to some extent, in a way that works for them. I understand we’re not all lucky enough to live biking distance from our jobs, and some people have to fly frequently for work, so how the above four tips apply to you will vary.

If you’re interested in taking another footprint quiz, earthday.org offers one here.

Other tips from carbotax.org to reduce your footprint include:

  • Reduce food waste (Try composting the waste you do have!)
  • Recycle items that can be recycled in your area
  • Live in smaller homes (less energy to cool/heat)
  • Eliminate extra refrigerators and freezers in the home
  • Install LED light bulbs
  • Purchase renewable energy or install solar panels
  • Limit your purchasing of new clothes, gifts, and other products
  • Drive a hybrid/electric car (and ride share when you can)



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