What’s My Carbon Footprint?

10.10.2017

0600

2017-10-10

 

I wanted to calculate my carbon footprint because I haven’t ever done so. I know that I watch what I buy and how much energy I use so I was hoping it would be low. There are aspects of my life I could probably change to reduce my carbon footprint, but I wanted a base number to start with. There are a few different carbon print calculators available, but this is the one I used. Also, I’m located in the United States of America, so I used the Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator, from the Nature Conservancy.

Because these calculators consist of a lot of smaller chunks of information, I thought I would at least list out the information needed for this calculator. I had to go searching for a large chunk of information to input, when I filled out my survey. So here is the the many pieces of information I needed, that you might need as well if you choose to use this carbon footprint calculator:

  1. Get Started: A QUICK CARBON FOOTPRINT ESTIMATE
    1. Zip Code
    2. City
    3. County
    4. State Country
    5. How many people live in your household?
    6. What is your approximate gross annual household income?
  2. Travel:  HOW DO YOU GET AROUND?
    1. Car(s): (Miles per gallon)
    2. Public Transit: (Miles per year)
    3. Air Travel: (Miles per year)
  3. Home: HOW MUCH DO YOU USE IN YOUR HOME?
    1. Electricity ($/year)
    2. Natural Gas ($/year)
    3. Heating oil & Other Fuels ($/year)
    4. Square ft. of living space
    5. Water useage ($/year)
  4. Food: HOW MUCH DO YOU CONSUME OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING?
    1. Simple Menu: (Daily calories per person)
      1. Meat, fish, eggs
      2. Grains & baked goods
      3. Dairy
      4. Fruits & vegetables
      5. Snacks, drinks, etc…
    2. Advanced Menu: (Daily calories per person)
      1. Beef, pork, lamb, veal
      2. Fish & seafood
      3. Other meat (processed, nuts, etc…)
      4. Poultry & eggs
      5. Grains & baked goods
      6. Dairy
      7. Fruits & Vegetables
      8. Snacks, drinks, etc…
    3. Shopping: HOW MUCH DO YOU SPEND ON EACH OF THE FOLLOWING?
      1. Simple Menu
        1. Goods  ($/month)
        2. Services  ($/month)
      2. Advanced Menu
        1. Goods  ($/month)
          1. Furniture & appliances
          2. Clothing
          3. Entertainment
          4. Paper, office & reading
          5. Personal care & cleaning
          6. Auto Parts
          7. Medical
        2. Services  ($/month)
          1. Health Care
          2. Information & Comunication
          3. Medical
          4. Vehicle Services
          5. Personal business & Finance
          6. Household Maintenance & Repair
          7. Organizations & Charity
          8. Other Services

So my results stated that my Total Footprint is 20 tons CO2/year, which is 59% better than average person. This is a good standing to start from. I’m actually quite happy with it. I could try to adjust my daily decisions to see if I can reduce my footprint a re-take the survey, but it’s a good starting point.

The last section in the calculator allows you to sign a pledge to stand with Climate Action. There are a few different carbon footprint calculators. I encourage you all to take a look at how large or small your carbon footprint is. It’s amazing when you see it written down in a calculated measure of your daily decisions. Here are a few other websites that also have carbon footprint calculators that might be of god use as well:

  1. Carbon Footprint Calculator
  2. The Nature Conservancy Carbon Footprint Calculator
  3. EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator
  4. WWF Footprint Calculator 
  5. Carbonfund Calculate 

TheNatureConservancy- Household Footprint

 

 

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Ethylene Producing Fruits And Vegetables

04.04.2017

0700

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Storing fruits and vegetables can be tricky if you have too much and if they’re stored incorrectly, the speed of ripening can speed up unnecessarily. It’s one lesson I had to take time out to understand when I lived on my own.

As some fruits and vegetables ripen, they release ethylene, a gas that can cause other produce to become spotted, soft, or mealy. To prevent this, keep ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables separate from varieties that emit the gas.

A Few General Guidelines

  • Do Not Store Fruits and Vegetables Together. Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables. (Think of the “one bad apple” adage.)
  • For Vegetables: Before storing, remove ties and rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave an inch to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the veggies in has some holes punctured to allow for good air flow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens can be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.
  • For Fruits: Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, all citrus, and berries will only deteriorate and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.

 

Ethylene Producing Fruits

•Apricots
•Avocados
•Bananas
•Cantaloupes
•Honeydew melons
•Kiwis
•Mangoes
•Nectarines
•Papayas
•Peaches
•Pears
•Plums
•Tomatoes

Ethylene Sensitive Fruits:

•Apples
•Asparagus
•Broccoli
•Carrots
•Cucumbers
•Eggplants
•Green beans
•Lettuce and other greens
•Potatoes
•Summer squash
•Watermelons

Try to keep the ethylene producing fruits separated from one another and make sure the ethylene sensitive fruits are kept in a separate section too. You can find storage tips and a more extensive list of how to store vegetables and fruits without plastic from Washington’s Green Grocer. The list originated from the Berkley Farmer’s Market, and you can  download their PDF of How ­To: Store Fruits and Vegetables and keep it for reference. There are still many different methods of storing fruits and vegetables, depending on how and if you prepare them before storing. I think this is a very helpful reference for those wondering how to go about eliminating it from fruit and vegetable storage.

My Mom

 

05.12.2016

0800

So this is blog post is going to be slightly different from my normal posts. In this post, I want to take some time to celebrate my mom.

My mom is a versatile woman, a woman of many strengths and many stories. She grew up in the in the 50’s and lived through the Vietnam War. By the time she had reached the young age of 23, she had established a well respected career as a flight attendant with Air Vietnam. During her young adult life, she also met my father (that story will be for another time). As a flight attendant, she got to travel around southeast asia and experience different cultures and met many people. She made her own money and enjoyed life tremendously.

I do give credit to my parents for being role models who always told me to grow up to make money. They never told me to grow up, get married and have kids. Perhaps they worried about my financial security, perhaps they simply didn’t want me to live paycheck to paycheck, but regardless, I did just that.

After my parents split, it was her strength that guided and paved the path of the following  years. She managed to balance being a single mom, staying sane and still taking care of two kids. I admire her strength and I hope that when I reach her age, I will still be as strong as her. To this day, when we sit and talk, I still enjoy hearing the stories of her childhood. As an adult, my relationship with her has become even closer and for that, I will forever be thankful. She has blessed me with my life and I’m so grateful that I get to spend one more day with her.

As children, we understand our parents are our leaders and rule makers. In adolescence, we test those rules to see where the boundaries lie. And as tenagers, we’re trying to figure out where we stand among the population of adults and our peers, yet we still test the boundaries between being deemed a child or an adult. As young adults, we’re still trying to get to that comfortable place to call ourselves an “official adult”, but we still seek guidance from our parents. Now as official adults, we can see the flaws in our decisions- and also theirs. Lastly, as adults, we can look at our parents as friends and maybe even peers. We can sit down and have a cordial conversation, with the understanding that where we sit now, is how our own children will view us as their leaders and their rule makers.

For a relationship between a parent and child to come full circle, is quite special to watch and be a part of. I value those conversations with my mom over dinner or in a phone call, because I know she still has many more stories to tell me, and I hope to hear each one of them.

SO HERE’S TO YOU MOM- HAPPY BIRTHDAY! May all your wishes come true, and know that when you look back on your life- you’ve accomplished so much and lived through so much more. I’m proud to call you my mom, and also my friend.

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Natural Air Filtering Plants

02.17.2016

0800

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Plants are great for indoor decor as well as connecting humans with a little bit of nature. Even better is when you can choose a plant that will benefit you and your family.

I have a Golden Pothos (Scindapsus aures) plant indoor and I’ve had it since May 2013. Golden Pothos are great for filtering formaldehyde and it stays green even when kept in the dark. It’s great for rooms near garages. It needs indirect, bright light and only needs watering once a week or once every week and a half. Originally, when I bought the plant, it looked like this:

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When the plant started cascading over the edge of the hanging flower pot, I found an old metal chain and used it to hang up the plant. I used an S-Hook to adjust the height of the chain over time. S-Hooks are great for making almost any ledge more versatile. As this plant continues to grow, I’ll readjust the height of the chain, but so far it seems happy where it is.

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Some other plants that can be used as natural indoor air filters are:

  1. Aloe (aloe Vera) aloe-vera-plant-1
    1. Great for kitchens &bathrooms
    2. Battles formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more.
  2. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)Chlorophytum-comosum-zebra-spider-plant-620x412
    1. Great for all residential rooms
    2. Battles benezene, formaldehyde, carbon momoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing industries. This plant is very easy to grow and maintain being that it prefers cool to average temperatures and dry soil. It needs bright indirect light to keep growing.
  3. Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)Gerbera jamesonii
    1. Great for laundry room & bedroom
    2. Can remove trichloroethylene and benzene from pollutants that come home with dry cleaning and inks . This plant needs lots of light and well drained soil.
  4. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’) Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii'
    1. Great for the bathroom, kitchen & bedroom
    2. Filters formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products and carbon monoxide, which is common in toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. It also releases oxygen at night. These thrive in low light and steamy humid conditions.
  5. Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium) chrysanthemum_morifolium
    1. Great for bedrooms, office, kitchen and laundry room
    2. This plant not only brightens up a room with it’s unique colors, but it filters benzene, which is commonly found in glue, paint, plastics and detergent. It needs bright light in order for the buds to open, but not direct sunlight.
  6. Red-edged Dracaena (Dracaena marginata) RedEdgedDrac
    1. Great for living rooms, dining rooms &kitchens
    2. This plant removes xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, which can seep into indoor air through lacquers, varnishes and gasoline. It grows slowly, but can reach up to 15 feet in height, so it’s suggested that this plant be placed in a area with a high ceiling, but with moderate sunlight.
  7. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)   download
    1. Great for living rooms
    2. Can filter out formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, which come from pollutants that typically accompany carpeting and furniture. This plant is a little tricky to take care of with but with the right amount of light, water and temperature, it can grow into a beautiful sculpture.
  8. Azalea (Rhododendron simsii) Rhododendron-simsii-2
    1. Great for living rooms, dining rooms, basements
    2. This shrub can battle formaldehyde from sources such as plywood or foam insulation. These plants strive in temperatures that range between 60-65 °F.
  9. Warneck Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’) dracaena-warneckiei-plant
    1. Great for living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.
    2. This plant can combat pollutants associated with varnishes and oils. Keep in mind that this plant has the potential to reach 12 feet high and grows easily in an indoor environment, even without direct sunlight.
  10. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum ‘Deborah’) Chinese-evergreen-Aglaonema-crispum-Deborah
    1. Great for all residential rooms
    2. Filters a number of pollutants and will remove more toxins over time with more exposure. This plant has been nicknamed “the easiest houseplant” because it will thrive in low light and can survive in places other plants cannot. These plants like humid air so misting the leaves occasionally will keep them happy.
  11. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea Sefritzii) bamboo-palm-tree-chamaedorea-seifrizii-20-01-b-realpalmtrees.com
    1. Great for living rooms, dinging rooms and kitchens
    2. This plant filters out both benzene and trichloroethylene. It should be placed around furniture that could be off-gassing formaldehyde. It prefers humidity and bright indirect sunlight.
  12. Heart Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium) Heart Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium
    1. Great for all residential rooms
    2. Can remove all kinds of VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) and formaldehyde from sources like particleboard. However, it is toxic when eaten so keep out of reach of children and pets. This plant is very low maintenance and needs indirect light with room for its vines to grow.

Consider using an indoor plant that filters air naturally. Make sure you check the maximum height at which the plant will inevitably grow to and if they need to be re-potted into a larger pot . It’s better to not be surprised a few months into this investment. These plants can help clean indoor air on Earth, which is typically far more polluted than outdoor air and the benefits also include creating a more sustainable indoor environment.