Week 2: Start Tracking Your Carbon
by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood
What is a carbon footprint anyway? It’s how much carbon is released into the atmosphere by producing and delivering the things each of us consumes and uses. Everyone’s carbon footprint is different, and each of us impacts our own footprint by what we choose to consume and purchase. This short video explains it.
Download the North -Your Climate Journey app (available for both android and apple) and get familiar with it so you can track your carbon starting on May 1st. This app is being improved all the time, so as our year progresses, you’ll have more options. Track your carbon footprint for a week (Good), a month (Better), a year (Best).
It’s simple to use, but here are some tips to help you begin.
Enter your household electricity by month. Use the total kWh from the most current month’s bill. Since it’s likely your April bill will not have arrived by May 1st, use your March bill. You can go back and update the entry when the next actual bill arrives.
If natural gas cannot be entered as an item, you can enter it as heat as a gas boiler. Just like your electricity bill, enter the most recent month’s bill and update it when the new bill arrives.
Enter things you do regularly as recurring events to save time. For example, your daily commute by car can be entered to recur 5 days a week. Meals can also be put in as recurring events.
Enter meals by meal type rather than ingredient.
Search for purchases to enter them. If they don’t show up as an item, you can enter them under spending in the closest category. Make sure to change the currency (bottom right) before entering the amount you spent.
The app shows you in real time how each choice increases your carbon footprint, by illustrating carbon as “bubbles” that accumulate as one large “map”.With every entry, you’ll get a clearer picture on what your footprint looks like. Bigger carbon emitters are depicted as bigger bubbles. Small ones as smaller bubbles. So, you can really “see” what impact your choices are having. The more you use it, the more intuitive it becomes. Over the month, you’ll develop a visual that makes your carbon footprint more comprehensible.
A few months ago, Laurel showed me this app for the first time. She was horrified by how buying a simple $24 sweatshirt had exploded her carbon footprint for that month. By far, it held the largest single impact of anything that she had done that month. When you consider that “fast fashion” is part of the four biggest carbon contributors (Consumption), and that most of our clothing is manufactured overseas and shipped here, it makes sense. Sometimes the things we don’t think that much about really make a big difference. A $5 t-shirt represents significantly more cost to us than $5. Conscious consumerism is a big key to reducing your carbon footprint.
The results can be quite eye-opening, so be curious, and see where the North - your climate journey app takes you! You may be surprised by what you discover about yourself! Happy tracking!
Sherri Jackson is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the Candidate of Record for Simcoe-Grey. and communications coordinator for our EDA. She is a member of the Collingwood Climate Action Team. Laurel Hood is our researcher. She is a retired teacher, Volunteer Coordinator for the EDA, climate activist and transportation lead for CCAT. Join the challenge at http://bit.ly/52WeeksofClimateAction.