As I am gearing up for the Carbon Conscious Project, I have had the opportunity to test a number of carbon calculators. Some are easier than others to use. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, and could all use some improvements. Here are my top 3 favorites:
- Terrapass : I like that it is very easy to use, allows be to input detailed flight routes, and provides for immediate remedial action in the form of purchase of Terrapass carbon offsets for each category, car, flights, and home. I don’t like that it is not clear whether the data is individual or household, and that it does not include other categories such as water usage, food, recycling, etc.
- Zero Footprint : I like that it is the most detailed of all calculators, it really gets down to great level of details. There is an option to buy carbon offsets. There is also a community aspect to their site that gives more relevance to the calculator. I will be curious to see how their citywide initiative with the city of Toronto pans out. I did not like that they don’t allow for the input of exact flight mileage, like Terrapass. Also I was not sure if they meant round trips or one way.
- Nature: I like that it sticks to basics and is fast and easy to do. They also include food and recycling, and car use data such as air filter and tire maintenance, in their calculation. I do not like that the calculations are very rough, eg, home footprint is based on size of house to 5 bedroom +, and does not take into account actual energy consumption. Also, the flying part is not done according actual mileage.
All three calculators agreed that my footprint is way above US average. Big culprits: all my trips to Hawaii and France, still driving too much, our big house, and the pool. Terrapass provides immediate opportunities to redeem myself with its various offset passes. It will cost me $170 for one year. This is not taking into account, all my trips to Target. None of the calculators include the impact of non food purchases.