Carbon Footprint Calculations

2020 Business & Family Footprint Calculations

In my annual ritual, I have calculated my business and family footprint, and doubled the offset with Climate Neutral Now purchases of 84 tons. This is a decrease of 30% even with an added family member. Forty-two tons divided among the three of us works out to about the average US footprint in a previously-‘normal’ year.

This year, with COVID-19 keeping us home – from work commutes and work or family travel – my footprint was quite different. It was lower because I didn’t travel to Europe three times for business, and I didn’t have to fly from Oahu to get there now that I live in Tacoma. But it is higher in another way: one son moved back home and so my household impacts increased.

Last year I began purchasing offsets for twice my impact since 1) Americans have an outsized impact, and have for long, long time, and 2) because reducing my impact in one year or more does not mean that my responsibility to help the World population reduce impacts decreases proportionally! We are in this together.

Because of transportation’s impact worldwide, I chose a clean bus program in China for one 43-ton purchase. Then I selected a small farmer agroforestry project in India for my duplicate purchase. One helps solve a big problem, and another soothes my soul because it supports struggling farmers earn a living, capture carbon, and restore the environment. Together, I hope these small investments help us all.

2019 Business & Family Footprint Calculations

Again, as a signatory of Climate Neutral Now, I have completed my carbon footprint assessment and purchased double the requisite offsets – 132 tons. We exceeded the even large footprint of 2018 by 5 tons, chiefly because of air travel from Oahu to anywhere but also because I traveled internationally this year for the first time in many years. That activity was 59% of my footprint. I am relieved that relocation to the Pacific Northwest helped reduce impacts in other areas of our lives where we had some alternatives such as food through a CSA and hydropower for all electricity.

For at least 2020 I expect the international travel on behalf of climate work to be repeated. I make sure each trip achieves multiple goals, links destinations and work to eliminate single-use flying, and I use Lyft on the ground because they offset my use for me. During 2020 I will travel to at least two of the conferences I attend by train.

I offset the full amount of my work and family’s carbon impact of 66 tons by contributing to a project in Malawi, through Climate Neutral Now, that funds clean burning cook stoves for women and their families. With these they no longer have to gather and burn wood which relieves stress on forests, on people who must gather the wood, and on the family that breathes the pollution. They have more time for more important activities as well. Each ton costs $8.

I doubly offset that impact by contributing to a project in India supporting the installation of wind energy projects creating cleaner generation and new jobs. That cost was $1 per ton. Both project support work in important locations and have co-benefits I value beside carbon reduction.

Please take time to do some simple calculations at least to offset your impacts as an individual, family, organization or all of those.

2018 Business & Family Footprint Calculations

As a signatory of Climate Neutral Now, I have again completed my carbon footprint assessment and purchased requisite offsets – 61 tons. The differences between 2017 and 2018 are astounding and they’re not impressive: I tripled my negative impacts partially because I expanded the count to include my home and family footprint along with my business footprint, but also because I traveled much more for family reasons and for work during 2018. Flights are 50% of my impact. The first part of 2019 will reflect that somewhat, but I have taken steps to mitigate it before I offset it this time next year.

To make improvements in 2019 over 2018 I have made some major changes and commitments. I am relocating my home and work to the mainland to be with family, to enjoy a lower cost of living, and to reduce my footprint by 1.25 tons for every Hawaii trip avoided (at least six last year). And I avoid or chain my trips wherever possible to reduce the number of legs. (I also take as little as possible on the plane).

Energy sources in Washington State are 93% carbon free anyway, but I can purchase RECs to balance my total energy use anyway (clean or not) through the utility. I do it because it invests in wind energy in the state.

Other activities include continued use of a socially-responsible investment portfolio; using Lyft instead of Uber because they offset every trip; participating in Plastic Free July which always bleeds over to the rest of they year – giving me new skills and resources to further eliminate plastic; and this year, for the first time, buying into a CSA (since our apartment doesn’t have a garden), so the majority of our fruits and vegetables for these 20 weeks are from 12 miles away. Agriculture is such a huge impact, that I find this approach extremely effective and personally enjoyable. We know our farmer and his family, eat well and healthy, and learn new dishes. None of this is sacrifice; all of it becomes inherently joyful.

I always use Climate Neutral Now to offset major individual flights as they incur (and to do an annual recount even when it means doubling my purchases). This year I purchased 61 tonnes of UN-Certified Emissions Reductions at a hydro-electric plant in Chile to honor that country’s hosting of the Santiago Climate Change Conference and 25th Council of the Parties. Yes, we will all fly there. There are limits to what can be accomplished without such close conversations so, for the moment, I still fly.

2017 Business Footprint Calculations

As a signatory of Climate Neutral Now, I have completed my carbon footprint assessment and purchased offsets for the balance of train and car travel, and the paper and product purchases I make (including postage).

I used the Carbon Fund’s business carbon calculator for hotel, shipping, and supplies. I found its air travel calculations to be too inexact and instead use the carbon calculator at Climate Neutral Now for this, the most significant part of my carbon footprint.

My business carbon footprint is estimated generously at 20.36 tons annually. I have made purchases for 21 tons of offsets.

To limit my carbon footprint I

  • purchase solar power through a time-of-use agreement with my provider. The time of use coincides with my work hours (avoiding 4.83 tons of carbon)
  • use only Lyft for surface transport in cities since they carbon offset is part of the service
  • nearly always chain or share trips by air or car
  • telecommute most of the time
  • maximize results or engagement with every trip for increased impact through multiple tasks and meetings, and learning and adventure
  • always select the green choice in hotel services, and select AirBnB locations wherever possible, and the most sustainable providers
  • choose passive heating and cooling, and seasonal dressing to remain comfortable
  • choose Energy Star equipment and use energy-saving modes
  • limit my materials use but do still print some items (double-sided)
  • do use post-it notes for efficiency but re-use paper pieces for longer notes
  • recycle printer cartridges and paper
  • and buy local coffee and compost my coffee grounds