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Archive for the ‘Daily Footprint Project’ Category

First my daughter Charlotte, then loyal reader and commenter Jeff Huggins. Both urged me to read “Big Foot“, Michael Specter‘s article in The New Yorker‘s upcoming March issue. Subtitled, ‘In measuring carbon emissions, it’s easy to confuse morality and science‘, the article is a great summary of the challenges inherent to carbon labeling. Here are some highlights of the eight-page article, starting with an introduction featuring some commendable efforts from Tesco, the British retailing giant:

A little more than a year ago, Sir Terry Leahy, who is the chief executive of the Tesco chain of supermarkets, Britain’s largest retailer, delivered a speech to a group called the Forum for the Future, about the implications of climate change. Leahy had never before addressed the issue in public, but his remarks left little doubt that he recognized the magnitude of the problem. “I am not a scientist,” he said. “But I listen when the scientists say that, if we fail to mitigate climate change, the environmental, social, and economic consequences will be stark and severe. . . . There comes a moment when it is clear what you must do. I am determined that Tesco should be a leader in helping to create a low-carbon economy. In saying this, I do not underestimate the task. It is to take an economy where human comfort, activity, and growth are inextricably linked with emitting carbon and to transform it into one which can only thrive without depending on carbon. This is a monumental challenge. It requires a revolution in technology and a revolution in thinking. We are going to have to rethink the way we live and work.”

Tesco sells nearly a quarter of the groceries bought in the United Kingdom, it possesses a growing share of the markets in Asia and Europe, and late last year the chain opened its first stores in America. Few corporations could have a more visible-or forceful-impact on the lives of their customers. In his speech, Leahy, who is fifty-two, laid out a series of measures that he hoped would ignite “a revolution in green consumption.” He announced that Tesco would cut its energy use in half by 2010, drastically limit the number of products it transports by air, and place airplane symbols on the packaging of those which it does. More important, in an effort to help consumers understand the environmental impact of the choices they make every day, he told the forum that Tesco would develop a system of carbon labels and put them on each of its seventy thousand products.’

Sir Leahy is attempting to implement what I have been asking for on several occasions, a carbon label on each item, to let people know the real cost to the environment of that item. I appreciate Sir Leahy‘s efforts to bring some awareness and behavior changes in his customers. I can certainly attest to the power of ‘carbon consciousness‘. Even more effective than carbon labeling, would be a carbon tax, to be added to the normal price of the item, and based on the carbon cost of the item. But that should be a policy decision, not a matter for businesses like Tesco.

Michael Specter pays tribute to a bunch of corporate and institutional green do-gooders: Marks&Spencer, Kraft, Sara Lee, the Church of England, and yes, even Ford and General Motors . . . I am surprised no mention is made of Wal-Mart, but then, the article is heavily skewed towards a British crowd!

Measuring carbon footprint is very, very complex, and this is where good intentions, such as the Tesco initiative, can fall short:

‘The calculations required to assess the full environmental impact of how we live can be dazzlingly complex. To sum them up on a label will not be easy. Should the carbon label on a jar of peanut butter include the emissions caused by the fertilizer, calcium, and potassium applied to the original crop of peanuts? What about the energy used to boil the peanuts once they have been harvested, or to mold the jar and print the labels? Seen this way, carbon costs multiply rapidly.

John Murlis is the chief scientific adviser to the Carbon Neutral Company also served as the director of strategy and chief scientist for Britain’s Environment Agency. Murlis worries that in our collective rush to make choices that display personal virtue we may be losing sight of the larger problem. “Would a carbon label on every product help us?” he asked. “I wonder. You can feel very good about the organic potatoes you buy from a farm near your home, but half the emissions-and half the footprint-from those potatoes could come from the energy you use to cook them. If you leave the lid off, boil them at a high heat, and then mash your potatoes, from a carbon standpoint you might as well drive to McDonald’s and spend your money buying an order of French fries.”

It is a logical and widely held assumption that the ecological impacts of transporting food-particularly on airplanes over great distances-are far more significant than if that food were grown locally. There are countless books, articles, Web sites, and organizations that promote the idea. There is even a “100-Mile Diet,” which encourages participants to think about “local eating for global change.” Eating locally produced food has become such a phenomenon, in fact, that the word “locavore” was just named the 2007 word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Yet the relationship between food miles and their carbon footprint is not nearly as clear as it might seem. That is often true even when the environmental impact of shipping goods by air is taken into consideration. “People should stop talking about food miles,” Adrian Williams told me. “It’s a foolish concept: provincial, damaging, and simplistic.” Williams is an agricultural researcher in the Natural Resources Department of Cranfield University, in England. He has been commissioned by the British government to analyze the relative environmental impacts of a number of foods. “The idea that a product travels a certain distance and is therefore worse than one you raised nearby-well, it’s just idiotic,” he said. “It doesn’t take into consideration the land use, the type of transportation, the weather, or even the season. Potatoes you buy in winter, of course, have a far higher environmental ticket than if you were to buy them in August.” Williams pointed out that when people talk about global warming they usually speak only about carbon dioxide. Making milk or meat contributes less CO2 to the atmosphere than building a house or making a washing machine. But the animals produce methane and nitrous oxide, and those are greenhouse gases, too. “This is not an equation like the number of calories or even the cost of a product,” he said. “There is no one number that works.”

My reaction to “Big Foot“: are we missing the boat in attempting to be too perfect? I come back to the idea of a carbon tax, on non essential products and services that are obvious polluters. It is unrealistic to think that a precise carbon-based pricing can be derived for each product ever produced. By the time we are done measuring, global warming will have become an unavoidable reality.

You can also hear Michael Specter on Fresh Air.

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Day 30 of Daily Footprint Project. A good time to conclude the project. And to reflect on the lessons learned during these thirty days spent under the close scrutiny of the green lens:

How to evaluate one’s personal environmental impact, is still up for discussion:

Starting with today. I drove a lot today. Some of the trips I could have done on ‘Pervenche‘, no question. That would have meant one extra hour spent on the bike. One less hour to work on two green projects I am involved with. What’s more important, to try to contribute to the global warming solution on a global scale, through my professional endeavors, or on a personal level through my daily actions? This is a question that keeps coming up, and I have heard two school of thoughts on the matter. One says, you’ve got to be pure and try to align your personal actions with your talk, as best as you can. According to these folks, I should have biked, and then maybe spent an extra hour working. The other school says, you’ve got to look at the net effect of your actions. If, through your work, you are going to mitigate more than your personal part of carbon emissions, then you have the license to sin a bit, as long as it is in the service of the green cause. When it was found that Al Gore was not as green as he could be, the two sides went at it. I say, they are probably both right. My own line of conduct is be as conscious as you possibly can of your actions, and if you are going to sin, do it full knowingly, and try to make up some other way. And I don’t mean carbon offsets here . . . Although, here again, if I am going to fly, I will purchase carbon offsets.

Green consciousness eventually leads to more responsible behavior:

Second, I have noticed my green conscience has become a lot more acute as a result of this daily process of systematic observation. I would like to pause and talk about the difference between observing, and judging. It is important to not censor and let the inner critic have a field day with one’s observations. That would be missing the point. No, the most important thing is to become more conscious. Without willing it, the conscience becomes strengthened, and it is only a matter of time, before one starts acting more responsibility. This morning at the pool, was a perfect example. As I was about to step into the hot tub, I noticed the jets had not been turned on. There are two buttons, one for the jets on the right side, the other for the jets on the left side. I thought why turn both on? I am the only one, and I will only be using one jet. Then comes this old lady, who gets annoyed. Why aren’t both sides turned on? It did not even occur to her why both jets would not be on. This is what I mean by being unconscious.

Green Wannabes need external help to go green all the way:

A well developed green conscience can only go so far however. There has been plenty of instances, many documented in this blog, when I didn’t have any excuses for not behaving green, and I still went ahead and behaved badly, out of sheer laziness, or because I had other things on my mind, or I fell back into old habits. I am just a Green Girl Wannabe, not UberGreenie. And I need help. Many of my comments on the Huffington Post deal with that reality, and the fact that I, and I would venture to say, most Americans, no matter how well intentioned, need some external help to go green all the way. In my public letter to the future President of the United States, I listed fifteen things I would need from our next leader. These mostly have to do with incentive, policies, taxes, laws and regulations, standards, public infrastructures, and technologies. You’ve got to make it easy for folks to green their lives. Cheap, convenient, efficient, appealing, fun, and impossible to not follow.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #30

Water
personal:
flush toilet 3
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
shower at pool 2
mom:
wash salad
communal:
rinse dishes

Electricity/gas
personal:
electric toothbrush 4’
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on all day
microwave oatmeal 4’
microwave soup  3’
mom:
boil pasta
communal:
lights

Food
personal:
tea
organic milk
organic apples 2
organic chocolate
oatmeal
takeout chicken soup from Whole Foods
whole wheat bread 
mom:
cheese pasta
salad
communal:

Waste
personal:
toilet paper
soup carton
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers

Recycling
personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers
junk mail

Transportation
personal:
mom:
communal:
drive friend to airport 45 miles
drive to pool 6 miles
drive to night meeting 2 miles
drive to grocery store 5 miles

Non food shopping
personal:
mom:
communal:

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Day 29 of Daily Footprint Project. A milestone in my ‘trying to be green‘ trajectory. I was feeling good. My heart light for a change, and ready to make room for new experiences. ‘How about biking to the gym?‘ I asked Prad. It’s been months already, since Prad started biking around town. Now, I wanted to join him.

I peaked outside. The sun was there, and the air was just right. Helmet, gloves, backpack, bike lock, jacket. I felt the excitement of a five year old on her first bike adventure. And off, we went. Three miles along quiet streets. The pleasure of making up our route, and playing hide and seek with traffic. ‘Pervenche‘ was being a good bike, no fuss, and easy on my legs. I arrived at the gym, with the exhilaration of someone who had just accomplished a major feat. Mostly, I was feeling so proud. I had overcome my resistance to biking, and entered the select crowd of town bikers, and serious greenies.

As I look back on my days of leaving ‘Pervenche‘ out sitting on our porch, I realize the hardest thing was making the leap, of deciding to go, just once. I have written before about inertia. How to conquer this incredible force is of utmost importance to the challenge of getting people to green their behaviors. Here are ten things that helped me with ‘Pervenche‘:

  1. Having a ‘contract’ with a supportive community, in this case the people who read and comment on La Marguerite. Also, Prad my husband and Green Guru in residence.
  2. Not doing it alone. Going with Prad was a great incentive.
  3. Seizing the moment. Going when the heart and mind both coalesce to welcome this new experience
  4. Not getting discouraged, and chastising oneself, for being bad.
  5. Keep talking to your community about your ongoing struggles
  6. Visualize the personal benefits of your new behavior, here the pleasure of biking with Prad
  7. Make that small first step, whatever that means. Grabbing the helmet was 99% of the battle
  8. Build your new behavior into your existing routine. Biking to the gym made perfect sense, and enhanced my exercise regimen.
  9. Do not take on another new behavior until you have established this one.
  10. Repeat this mantra to yourself: ‘Just do it!

10 Tricks to Get You Going Green

I tell Prad I am just finishing writing an article about our bike adventure yesterday. Words from the mouth of Green Guru:

The bike adventure has to continue . . .

 

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #29

Water
personal:
flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 4
shower at pool 2
mom:
wash fruit
communal:
rinse dishes
wash salad

Electricity/gas
personal:
electric toothbrush 4’
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on half day
microwave oatmeal 4’
microwave soup  3’
mom:
communal:
cook crepes on stove 15’
lights

Food
personal:
tea
organic milk
organic persimmons 1
organic apples 2
organic chocolate
oatmeal
takeout barley soup from Whole Foods
whole wheat bread
mom:
sandwich with veggies and leftover chicken
gas water with orange juice
organic apple
communal:
crepes with organic milk
Italian prosciutto
organic salad
organic eggs
Swiss cheese

Waste
personal:
toilet paper
soup carton
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers

Recycling
personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers

Transportation
personal:
mom:
drive car back from school (girls needed it to transport supplies for the dance) 2 miles
communal:

Non food shopping
personal:
mom:
communal:

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Day 28 of Daily Footprint Project. Cold, and rainy. I had to go out twice, once to a doctor’s appointment, and then to the pool. Both outings in the five miles range, a perfect ‘bike it’ distance. ‘Pervenche‘ was waiting, and I had made such a big deal of looking for the perfect bike and finding it, and being ready to ditch my car, that I felt obligated to come through.

What happened next is less glorious. I was busy blogging, making comments on the Huffington Post. Lots of posts on global warming today, and I had to make my opinion heard. Came 12. 30, the time when I could still have made it to the doctor on my bike, and I had to decide. To bike or to drive. The computer screen was luring me with one more post to comment on. Ten minutes more, that’s all I needed. What the heck! Forget my green conscience, forget all the promises to myself, and to my readers. The temptation of convenience, of minutes shaved away for more blogging about environmental concerns, was too great. The truth is I love my car.

This is the kind of stuff that I would push back in the recess of my mind, and my heart, if I was not committed to telling the truth, all of it. Am I embarrassed? Yes. The irony of the situation does not escape me. Today, I was a Green Hypocrite. I could dwell in self-loathing. More interesting, though, is to get down to the root of my behavior, to understand as I have tried in the past, what causes the split between my rather high awareness, and those moments when I choose to not act accordingly. This is where it is important to pay attention to thoughts, no matter how seemingly mundane, for they hold clues to the intrinsic human problem at the root of climate change. Going back to that 12.30 moment, when I had to decide, to bike or to drive, here is what I found:

Laziness. Priorities. A drop in the invisible cloud of CO2. It won’t make a difference. I am having so much fun, don’t want to be bothered. Habit. Comfort. Convenience. How bad is it anyway, to drive such short distance once or twice a day? It can’t hurt that much. Effort, I don’t want to make the effort. The weather wasn’t even that nice. My time is precious. The extra time spent biking, I can use doing other ‘more productive’, more important things, such as working on green projects. Nothing is going to happen if I drive instead of biking. No consequences. I don’t have the discipline. What’s in it for me? The car, so fast, such a proven entity. I can zip in and out of places. I know, I should bike. But it’s such a small thing. Today, I can ‘sin’, only once, maybe twice. I will get it right some other time. Ah! the immediate pleasure of blogging away, versus the higher satisfaction of a clean conscience. Big, instant pleasure over small dent in my green conscience. Pleasure wins. I can’t even see that CO2 anyway. It’s invisible. A crime without the evidence to prove it. Everybody else is driving anyway, or almost everyone. I am too wrapped up into the moment. The present supersedes any hypothetical concerns about the consequence of my small actions for the whole planet, myself included. There are two issues. The lack of immediate consequence for my action. And the dilution of personal responsibility, the big pot problem.

There is a lot to be learned from that thought soup – I stole the words from Nadine – Lots of insights, not just about myself, but more importantly, about the human condition in relationship to climate change. What are the personal obstacles to change? How can these can be best addressed? I just followed a fascinating exchange on DotEarth, between Andrew Revkin, and his readers, on that same topic yesterday. The discussion did not suffer from a lack of opinions . . . and intellectual ramblings. What is missing most in many of the climate change conversations, is that connection to the psychological reality of the individual. That reality affects individuals in their personal lifestyle choices, their professional choices as influencers, deciders, and politicians. It is probably the single most important factor, besides technology, with the potential to critically alter the course of climate change.

 

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #28

Water
personal:
flush toilet 3
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
shower at pool 2
mom:
wash fruit
communal:
rinse dishes
wash vegetables
wash rice

Electricity/gas
personal:
electric toothbrush 4’
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on all  day
microwave oatmeal 4’
mom:
communal:
lights
bake chicken in oven 30’
stir fry zucchinis 4’
microwave rice 30’

Food
personal:
tea
organic milk
organic persimmons 2
organic chocolate
oatmeal
mom:
grapes
breakfast pastries from Whole Foods
communal:
baked organic chicken
organic brown rice
organic zucchinis
organic salad

Waste
personal:
toilet paper
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers
chicken packaging
zucchini package
salad plastic 

Recycling
personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers

Transportation
personal:
drive to appointment (stop by Trader Joe’s on way back) 5 miles
drive to pool 6 miles
mom:
communal:

Non food shopping
personal:
mom:
communal:

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Day 27 of Daily Footprint Project. The day to pick up my bike from the store. I finally found a used one a few days ago. Despite the owner’s protests that ‘No, we don’t have any used bikes other than the ones in the front’, I pointed to the lot far in the back. Oh, those you mean. Go ahead, take a look if you want.‘ ‘Those‘ turned out to be what I had been looking for. I fell for a blue English bike with old fashion fenders. It had some soul, and I found myself wondering about its previous life. There was no seat, so the shop guy had to borrow one from one of the other abandoned bikes. I am not sure about the one he picked. It’s a bit big, but the man assured me, ‘Better bigger than smaller for that part of your body. Trust me, you’ll like it.‘ It is my great pleasure to introduce you to ‘Pervenche‘:

‘Pervenche’ and Tips on How to Find the Used Bike for You

‘Pervenche’, like periwinkle. As a child I used to be very fond of pervenches, and I remember making bouquets out of them during our family outings to the park of the castle nearby. From now on, I am taking ‘Pervenche‘ with me, wherever I go, assuming it is not too far. I even got baskets to hold groceries, and lights for the dark winter evenings.

Now, there are a few tips I would like to share with you, as a result of my days spent looking for the perfect used bike:

  1. Think of what you will be using the bike for: flat, hills, town, country, mountain, short distances, long distances, etc.
  2. Keep in mind, you need the right size bike for your height.
  3. Ask around, maybe one of your neighbors or friends has a bike that they would be willing to donate.
  4. Before leaving the comfort of your home, make calls to your local bike stores and ask for their recommendation, explaining what you are looking for; use that information to guide the rest of your search.
  5. Next visit the store, and as proven by ‘Pervenche’, challenge them when they pretend to not have any used bike for you.
  6. Look on Craigslist, make sure to not overpay, compare with the price of similar new bikes; also see if the bike comes fully equipped, or not.
  7. If you have time, look into garage sales.
  8. Take into account all the extras; I paid $150 for ‘Pervenche‘ but ended up paying twice as much with back and front lights, rack, baskets, helmet, and lock.
  9. This is an important purchase, it will become your good friend if you are happy with it; don’t settle until you are perfectly satisfied.
  10. Take your bike for a test ride before having all the extras installed; make sure it is the right size and fit; try out several bikes.
Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #27

Water
personal:
flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
shower at pool 2
mom:
communal:
rinse dishes

Electricity/gas
personal:
electric toothbrush 4’
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on all  day
microwave oatmeal 4’
microwave soup 2’
mom:
communal:
lights

Food
personal:
tea
organic milk
organic oranges 2
organic chocolate
oatmeal
leftover takeout soup
whole wheat bread
lunch out with friend
mom:
communal:

Waste
personal:
toilet paper
orange peels
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers

Recycling
personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers
junk mail

Transportation
personal:
drive to pool 6 miles
drive to friend’s house 4 miles
mom:
communal:

Non food shopping
personal:
new old bike
bike rack
baskets
helmet
lock
mom:
communal:

 

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Day 26 of Daily Footprint Project. My search for a bike continues. Yesterday, I drove 38 miles to look at an old Murray bike. What I did not know is that some of the older bikes come without brakes. To stop, I am supposed to pedal backward. Not for me, I decided.

Then I got this very sweet email from Tim, one of the sellers on Craigslist, who had the nearly perfect bike, except it was too big for me:

Oh Marguerite..just a few tips as I saw your blog on your newly potential bike purchase in Sac., ….for me personally, I have? bikes…I use one locally only for the library, errands, drop my kids off to school during the Spring and no rain season, exercise to see/feel the peaceful Zen in our neighborhood when I ride super early Sat. a.m. before all the people rise up and no cars around..such a nice feeling, check out different streets and where it leads to etc. etc…. it is sooooo cool to think that all the places that I can travel wo/ paying extras for gas, oils, maintenance and saving the environment…that bike is my most frequently used bike that I can lend out to help others and it looks really beat up, but very well maintain ever so often so others won’t touch or take it when I leave it at a library..I’ll probably get attached to it eventually..the next higher end bike is the one used mostly on weekends on sunnydays and if needed can go pretty far wo/ breaking down and stranded.. as for my last one it’s for ocassional use with groups..fear of theft…if you plan to you it on a daily basis and reliability, and to limit cost on fixing repairs, and polluting PA w/ bike parts and additional landfill plastics, wrappers, tubes, glues, patches, and other bike parts and spares, I do recommend a better quality bike so that you can spend more time in cycling your zen and not worry about flats, and additional stress…..my 1st bike was purchased last summer (early) from a young women locally w/ celebral palsy…so sad she had to sell her 1989 mountain bike for $50 (?), I didn’t have the heart to ask for less of it’s condition.. but it cost me brand new cables, tires, tubes, paint, job frame rejuvenation, flats, stickers for decoration, newer parts etc. etc…?over $125 plus.. so even though the bike looks like it’s worth under $30.00 the work, time, and parts put into it was a lot more from this owner’s perspectives.. so if you buy a better condition bike it will cost a lot less to fix up and a lot less to pollute our land for others….believe me from experience..riding a newer bike is worth the money and pleasure…I’ll probably be selling my bike this summer…anyway hope the story/tips help…T

Getting a bike is not as simple as I thought. I need to do some more research and phone calling before I start driving places again.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #26

Water
personal:
flush toilet 3
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 4
shower at pool 2
wash fruit
mom:
communal:
rinse dishes
rinse salad

Electricity/gas
personal:
electric toothbrush 2
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on all  day
microwave oatmeal 4’
microwave soup 2’
mom:
bake chicken leg in small toaster oven 30’
fry potatoes 5’
communal:
lights

Food
personal:
tea
organic milk
organic apples 2
organic chocolate
oatmeal
leftover takeout soup
whole wheat bread
dinner at friend’s house
mom:
baked  organic chicken
fried leftover potatoes
organic green salad
whole wheat baguette
communal:

Waste
personal:
toilet paper
orange peels
mom:
paper wrapper for chicken
salad scraps
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers

Recycling
personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers
junk mail

Transportation
personal:
drive to bike dealer 38 miles
drive to pool 6 miles
drive to friend’s house 3 miles
mom:
communal:

Non food shopping
personal:
mom:
communal:

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Day 25 of Daily Footprint Project. This is the bike I want:

Biking the Environmental TalkBiking the Environmental Talk

Biking the Environmental TalkBiking the Environmental Talk

A vintage Schwinn Beach Cruiser, for $140, on Craigslist. Above my initial $100 limit, but for such a beauty, I am willing to bend. The only problem is, it’s in Sacramento. Its owner may come to San Francisco in the near future. That means I will have to wait, and if he does come down, I will have to drive to pick it up.

I am excited. This could be my Christmas present.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #25

Water

personal:
flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
shower at pool 2
mom:
communal:
run dishwasher full load
rinse dishes
rinse veggies

Electricity/gas

personal:
electric toothbrush 2
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on all  day
microwave oatmeal 4’
mom:
fry steak
microwave potato 10’
communal:
lights

Food

personal:
tea
organic milk
organic raspberries
organic chocolate
oatmeal
local oranges 2
mom:
chocolate pudding
organic raspberries
scones from Whole Foods
organic steak
baked potato
communal:
organic tomatoes and fresh local mozzarella salad
takeout chicken soup from Whole Foods
organic whole wheat bread

Waste

personal:
toilet paper
mom:
paper wrapper for steak
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers
leftover turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce
half salad
half burrito
leftover fish
old olives
tofu cake
old veggies
old jams
half bread
old peanut butter jar
old parmesan

Recycling

personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers
junk mail

Transportation

personal:
drive to appointment 5 miles
drive to pool 6 miles
mom:
communal:
drive Prad to airport  45 miles

Non food shopping

personal:
mom:
photo paper
communal:
flea medicine for dogs

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Day 24 of Daily Footprint Project. After writing the last two articles on ‘Biking the Environmental Talk, Part 1 and Part 2, I felt the pressure to follow through, and to go on Craigslist. It really helps to make one’s commitment official. My green pride was at stake, and I had to take action. After looking at several ads and talking to a few prospective sellers, I am leaning towards an old Schwinn woman bike. It would please me to not spend more than $100. Tomorrow, I am to take a look at several bikes. I am getting excited. I am even thinking of giving the bike a name.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #24

Water

personal:
flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 4
shower 1
mom:
rinse dishes 3
wash fruit 3
communal:

Electricity/gas

personal:
electric toothbrush 2
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on all  day
fry eggs
heat bread in toaster
mom:
communal:
lights

Food

personal:
tea
organic milk
organic persimmons 2
organic chocolate
organic eggs 2
Indian bread 1
mom:
chocolate pudding
organic raspberries
scones from Whole Foods
communal:
Indian dinner at sister in law’s house

Waste

personal:
toilet paper
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers

Recycling

personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers
junk mail

Transportation

personal:
mom:
communal:
drive to sister in law’s house 6 miles

Non food shopping

personal:
mom:
communal:

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The Daily Footprint Project has taken me to the micro level of my personal footprint, down to the most minute details. I am only one out of six billion people, however. How do I fit within the larger picture? I wanted to know. I found this world map of environmental footprint on the Footprint Network:

Learning From Environmental Footprint Statistics

The map tells me I am in the largest red zone, along with 300 millions other Americans. Together, we have succeeded at becoming the largest offenders against the environment, both in terms of our per capita and combined environmental footprint (from Living Planet Report):

 

snapshot-2007-11-26-18-21-41.jpg

I am left wondering where does the nine point six come from? What is it about the way we live in this country that makes us such outrageous consumers of the world’s resources? Here is what came to my mind, in random order:

  1. round the clock services

  2. big cars

  3. big houses

  4. master bedrooms

  5. hot tubs

  6. pools

  7. large food servings

  8. big appliances

  9. big everything

  10. driving everywhere

  11. love of electronics

  12. waste, throw away culture

  13. malls as meccas

  14. online shopping

  15. suburbia

  16. credit cards

  17. advertising

  18. red meat

  19. processed foods

  20. cheap gas

  21. cheap water

  22. cheap electricity

If only things were not so big, and cheap, and convenient, we would not be so tempted to consume as much. I know I wouldn’t. I don’t whenever I go back to France. And the statistics are here to prove it.

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Day 23 of Daily Footprint Project. I was to go through Craigslist to find a used bike. Instead my day got eaten up by greater priorities:

  1. Going to the Farmers’ Market with Charlotte who is visiting from Berkeley
  2. Taking Little Sister shopping for clothes at Target, and going swimming with her
  3. Answering emails and commenting on other blogs
  4. Cleaning up leftover mess from Thanksgiving
  5. Paying my bills
  6. Making weekly oversea call to my mother
  7. Picking up medicine at drugstores (I woke up with a bad case of hives, oh, joy!)

By the end of the day, I was ready to sit down and read the Sunday paper, at last. Greening one’s life takes time, and energy. I am also picky. I have this picture in my mind of the old bike I want. And who knows how long it will take for me to find it?

 

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #23

Water

personal:
flush toilet 3
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
shower at pool 2
mom:
rinse dishes 3
wash fruit 3
communal:

Electricity/gas

personal:
electric toothbrush 2
microwave tea 2’
microwave oatmeal 4’
laptop on all ½ day
mom:
communal:
lights
stir fry baby bokchoy
pan fry fish 

Food

personal:
tea
organic milk
organic oatmeal
organic persimmons 2
organic chocolate
mom:
made chocolate pudding
bought nachos and turkey sandwich for Little Sister and her mom
communal:
baby bokchoys from farmers’ market
wild opah fish from farmers’ market

Waste

personal:
toilet paper
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers
leftover cranberry sauce

Recycling

personal:
mom:
communal:
2 Sunday papers

Transportation

personal:
mom:
communal:
drive to pool  6 miles
drive to renters’ house 6 miles
drive to Little Sister 10 miles
drive to Target with Little Sister 7 miles

Non food shopping

personal:
mom:
clothes and shoes for Little Sister (Target)
communal:

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