Earth Day Reflections

Earth Day caught me a little bit by surprise this year, so I confess I haven’t planned to do anything particularly profound today.

Since the last time I checked this carbon footprint calculator, I’ve made a lot of changes in my life (comprehensive recycling, CFL bulbs, 100% windfarm-based electricity, a vast reduction in the number of flights I was taking – though that had more to do with getting married than anything else, but still…), the result of which is a total household carbon footprint of 12.2 tons per year, which is FAR cry from the day I first ran the numbers and got a 20 ton carbon footprint.

The "world target" is... (don't say crazy... don't say crazy...) impressive. I think it assumes you're living in a yurt and telecommuting with your bicycle-powered One Laptop.
The "world target" is... (don't say crazy... don't say crazy...) impressive. I think it assumes you're living in a yurt and telecommuting with your bicycle-powered One Laptop.

Yes, it’s a reduction, but more notable is the fact that the 20 ton footprint was just for me, and the new and improved version includes the whole Casa Testerman (call it 2.5 people). So… go us? not too bad.

Here’s my the original list of “things to do to stop fucking up the earth”, with some notes on what’s been checked off and what still needs doing.

Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl):

((CHECK: I have, as the old ones failed, replaced about half the bulbs in my house with CFLs. Those that haven’t been replaced are, as you might guess, the ones I rarely turn on.))

Move your thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer


Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner


Install a programmable thermostat

Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases
((Insofar as it has been necessary thus far: check.))

STILL TO DO: Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket

Use less hot water
((Low flow showheads all through the house. CHECK.))

Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
Kate’s much much better about this than I am, without a doubt.

Turn off electronic devices you’re not using
I’m really, really not good about this — mostly with my computer, which I almost never shut off.

NOT DONE: Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them
Even when turned off, things like cell phone chargers and televisions use energy.
I REALLY should be unplugging the downstairs TV when I’m not using it.  I used to… dunno why I stopped.

Insulate and weatherize your home
I’ll mark this one as “In Progress” — new windows, incoming!

CHECK: Be sure you’re recycling at home
I’m astonished at how much of the trash leaving our home can recycled — it’s well over 70% of all the trash we create.

CHECK: Switch to green power
As I mentioned, all our electricity comes from a wind-farm. Now if only my furnace ran on electricity instead of gas…

The Green Power Network is a good place to start to figure out what’s available in your area.

HALF-CHECK: Buy locally grown and produced foods
We’re currently getting all our dairy products from local farms, but we still haven’t visted the local farmer’s market that’s less than five minutes away. FOR SHAME.

CHECK-ish: Buy fresh foods instead of frozen
Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

Seek out and support local farmers markets
See my previous shameful admission regarding our local farmer’s market.

Eat less meat
Here’s a hot tip: Morningstar Farms makes some GOOD FOOD. Good stuff for ingredients (“Beef” crumblies for lasagna, for example), and good food in general (their corn dogs are EXCELLENT). Try some stuff out, and I bet you could cut down on your red meat intake by quite a bit without missing it.

I’m not saying be vegetarian, guys… just eat LESS meat; that’s all I’m trying to do, and I think that’s doable.

I’m still working on this. Right now, it’s still “emergencies only”, but really, with the kind of work I do, there’s no reason I need to drive the 40 miles every single day of the week.

Fly less
Thankfully, I’ve been able to do this, because I’m not flying back and forth to NYC all the time. I miss seeing the city all the time, but not nearly as much as I ***LOVE*** having Kate here, with me, finally.

And that’s it. No more lecture lists: have a great Earth Day, guys.