Change takes time. Here below is the list of my path from what was not measured, but likely a typical carbon footprint (around 20 tons per year for an American) to a smaller carbon footprint today. I think I'm down to around 6 tons a year. Goal is about 2 tons per capita worldwide. Below is how I progressed over the last 20 years.
Today minus 20 years
1. Bought a fixer-upper house in dense urban area 5 blocks from subway.
2. Vacation locally (most of the time)
T- 18 years
3. Stopped eating meat (most of the time). Cook most meals from scratch.
T- 15 years
4. Enrolled children in local schools.
T- 14 years
5. Emphasis on Christmas & birthday presents that were consumable or practical.
T- 12 years
6. Installed automatic setback thermostat (55 degrees at night, 65 daytime). Knit a lot of sweaters for whole family.
7. Didn’t buy second car, used carsharing (Zipcar)
T- 9 years
8. Husband got a local job, now commutes by bicycle 100% of the time.
T- 8 years
9. Increase emphasis on second hand or hand-me-down for toys, books, clothes, bikes.
T- 7 years
10. Stopped eating fish (except sardines, I love them so).
T- 5 years
11. Kids stop asking to be driven to school on cold, wet or snowy days because answer is usually no.
T- 4 years
12. Switched all light bulbs to CFLS.
13. Turn temperature of water heater down to ‘warm’.
T- 3 years
14. More carpooling (GoLoco).
15. Greater commitment to biking for errands.
16. Finally put insulation in roof.
17. Wash laundry in cold water and dry clothes on line (my husband getting me over my greatest hypocrisy.) Reduced summer utility bill by 50%.
T- 2 years
18. Bought a farm share at local farm for produce.
19. Curiously also plant small kitchen garden.
20. Started driving the speed limit. On highways too (that’s right).
T- 1 year
21. Selected “green” supplier of grid electricity offered by our utility (wind farm in upstate NY, only 10% more expensive).
22. Replace inefficient appliances with way more efficient ones when they finally die. Front loading washing machine, dishwasher, refridgerator. Insulate and seal old house more, replace a few more old windows, solar hot water on roof, find or build more efficient housing.
This effort will be on-going. My biggest challenge, like environmental evangelists around me, is my air travel. I do a lot of it. I keep track using Dopplr, but I don’t believe in offsets (see CheatNeutral for a beautiful explanation of why).
What's your plan or path? What other good ideas?