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Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse gases’

On the fifth day of the Daily Footprint Project, I relied on my magic key, a bit more than usual.

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Three meetings back to back in the morning, a trip to the gym, another trip to Whole Foods, and last an outing to the restaurant with Prad. I calculated. That’s 27 miles, all in the Prius. Each trip an average of five miles, not counting our night out. This is pretty typical for me. I conduct most of my business locally.

Then, comes the question. Why not bike? The answer is, I am considering the idea. Emphasis on ‘considering’. The truth is, I looooove my car. What is there not to like? The immediacy, the convenience, the privacy, the spaciousness, the experience of moving around in my little cocoon. I can get on the phone while I drive, listen to NPR, spread my stuff on the passenger seat. I don’t have to worry about the other cars so much, I am not as invisible as on a bike. I can cram a lot more activities in the day. I am free to go wherever, freeway if I please, don’t have to plan. No need for a disgraceful helmet. I can wear a dress without having to worry about it flying off. I had never thought about all the advantages, until now. Ask my sixteen year old daughter, car = freedom. Not what the green people want to hear, but the truth nevertheless.

Compare with biking. It has been a while since I have used a bike. I lost my bike in our move two years ago, and even before that, I hardly ever used it. I have to go back years to remember what it is like to bike in the outdoors. What is so good about biking, that would make me want to switch, aside from the obvious environmental benefits? Biking is also about freedom, just like cars. Only, it is a different kind of freedom. No need to refill with gas. No more being stuck in traffic. A bike is small and light, it can fit anywhere. Parking becomes a non issue. Biking can be another way to exercise. It is a way of getting in touch with the environment, the city, nature, neighborhoods. Biking is zen, as in simplicity.

Driving, biking. Two very different kinds of experiences. Driving has the advantage of already being a part of my life. I need a little nudge to make room for biking. That’s where city based initiatives like Velib‘ in Paris are so important. They help jump start the process. I have forgotten how good it feels to be on a bike. The other aspect I want to bring up, is the need for cities to create a safe environment for bikers. In my town, there are only a few routes I could take, where I would not have to worry about sharing the road with cars and trucks.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #5

Water

personal:
flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 4
two showers at the gym
mom:
communal:
rinse dishes 2

Electricity/gas

personal:
electric toothbrush 4'
microwave tea 2’
microwave oatmeal 4’
laptop on all day
mom:
toast catherine
communal:
lights

Food

personal:
oatmeal with organic milk
organic apple
organic persimmons
tea
cup of coffee at coffee shop
organic orange
left over noodles
dinner at restaurant
mom:
egg
toast
communal:

Waste

personal:
toilet paper
paper cup at coffee shop (almost forgot to include)
mom:
toast
communal:
three newspaper wrappers
molded cream cheese in fridge
plastics (we take to recycling center now)

Transportation

personal:
drive to 1st appointment 3miles
drive from 1st to 2nd appointment 5 miles
drive from 2nd to last appointment 4 miles
drive from last appointment to home ½ mile
drive to gym round trip 6 miles
mom:
communal:
drive to Whole Foods 4 miles
drive to restaurant 4 miles

Non food shopping

personal:
mom:
communal:

 

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It would be nice if I could place my individual actions within the larger context of climate change. How much do they each contribute, percentage wise, to greenhouse gas emissions? Activities such as: using the dryer, driving my car, eating meat, taking showers, flushing the toilet, using disposable plastic bags for groceries. I tried googling all the combinations I could think of, without much results. I found information on personal and family carbon footprint calculators, lists of recommended actions, general articles, but not the kind of meaningful data I was looking for. After several hours, I gave up.

It is true that I could adhere blindly to the list of recommended actions. I could just become a poster green girl, if I set my mind to it. I could, but I am not there yet. For each change in my behavior, each effort I will put in, I need to understand the net impact. Going back to the dryer example, what is the percentage of greenhouse gases generated as a result of dryer use in the US, and conversely what would be saved if we all went back to the old clothesline of my grandmother? I want to research this some more.

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