Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Carb(on) Diet Now

Starting something is tough. For months Jane encouraged me to meditate. She found it helpful and thought it would benefit me. I agreed. But when the opportunity came to learn how to meditate– and there were many opportunities – I just didn’t feel like it. One morning I agreed to her instruction. Since then I meditate first thing every morning.

This installment is for those of you who have not started calculating your carbon footprint. Now is the time. Too busy? Don’t feel like it? Afraid of finding out what your footprint really is?

If you are serious about starting a low carb(on) diet, you’ll need to know how much you weigh. I weigh 7.8. carbon tonnes. I know. I’m a long way from reaching 1.4 carbon tonnes per year, the target that we each must work towards to prevent runaway global warming.

The good news is that I’m on the right path. It’s going to take me a few years but I’ll get there through planning and a deep desire to ensure a stable biosphere for my niece and nephew and their descendants. I know you too are serious about making a difference. To make a difference, you need a plan. Every good plan needs a beginning. We begin by knowing where we are and where we want to be.

What do you need to get started? Just a half an hour of your time. Start now. If you simply can't right now, open up your calendar and mark at time to do so. Here is a list of carbon calulators:

I use this one. It’s very comprehensive. You can choose Toronto, Ottawa, Seattle, etc.

Carbon Friendly Solutions

Al Gore’s Carbon Calculator

Carbon Fund

Online carbon calculators make it easy for you. Prior to beginning, collect your utility bills which will help you ascertain your annual heating and electricity output. If you don’t pay these bills (or don’t have records of them) the calculator will provide you with an average estimate. I know I discussed carbon calculators last week. I bring it up this week because I believe it’s really important. About half of Canada’s carbon emissions come from individuals through their homes, travel and diets. A calculator will help you plan and strategize your personal carbon reduction in the years to come.

We have until 2020 to make a significant dent in our carbon emissions. Now is the time to begin if you have not already. When you do so, tell your family and friends. Spread the word! Issue challenges. My goal for 2009 is 6 tonnes – about a 25% reduction from 2008. I challenge everyone out there to reduce their carbon footprint by 25%. And even if you fall short of that goal, you will still be on the right track.

Carbon Offsets
I visited Canada’s PlanetAir, a Gold Standard carbon offsetting company, to confess my global warming sins and invest in renewable energy technology. Offsetting 7.2 tonnes costs $300. I am now on PlanetAir’s online monthly program, investing $25 over the next 12 months. When offsetting your greenhouse gas emissions, I encourage you to consider Gold Standard which supports sustainable technologies. The sooner these technologies are made available to us, the easier it will be for each of us to produce 1.4 tonnes of carbon per year.

Garbage Challenge
After three months of reducing our landfill-bound waste, Jane and I are left with one bag to deposit in our garbage bin. The only blip in the campaign was our trip to the BC’s Lower Mainland where the cities of Surrey and Langley do not compost their organics. We brought as much of the land-fill bound garbage home with us but had to leave the organics for obvious reasons.

The garbage challenge was surprisingly easy. It simply forces us to be more mindful of our packaging and what we toss out. Jane and I now limit packaging that cannot be recycled which means that bulk purchasing is part of our weekly shopping ritual. We are even reusing old packaging. All of the non-recyclable materials are soft plastics, although the City of Toronto now accepts plastic shopping bags. Jane and I reuse and then save the bulk plastic bags to take during the City’s Environment Days. The bag of garbage we toss out will take 1000 years to deteriorate. Jane and I are committed to producing as little of that as possible - only four bags of landfill-bound garbage per year.

In the News

Americans seeing the light on carbon tax
Ah, the irony.

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