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

 

 

My Cat Is Not Zero Waste

09.21.2016

0800

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Trying to create zero trash for my cat is almost impossible. I’ve tried, but due to some medical conditions, it’s virtually impossible. I have a male cat and he was neutered when he was younger. Unfortunately, male cats who are neutered, are more prone to urinary tract infections and therefore, require special diet food that has a low sodium content. Also, in order for him to not develop another urinary tract infection, he needed fresh water constantly. We bought him a small drinking fountain which he helped himself to. These two requirements produced empty tin cans of cat UTI management food as well as charcoal filters.

As he aged, he developed Diabetes and requires insulin shots twice a day. This required insulin medication as well as insulin needles. He’s a large cat, but he’s always been a large cat so weight gain was his genetic default. Lucky for us, he’s always been an indoor and outdoor cat, so he always used the backyard as his giant toilet. But with him being an indoor and outdoor cat, he required flea medication. I’ve been asked “Why don’t you just make him an indoor cat? It would cut back on the flea medication trash that you produce.” But forcing an animal to stay inside when we clearly have outdoor roaming space for him seemed unnatural to me. I wanted him to roam free and go play outside when we weren’t home. So the diabetes and flea medication produced tin cans of glucose management food, insulin needles, insulin medication and the flea applicators.

Over the years, he also got into a few fights with other cats or raccoons that roamed the neighborhood. For those special occasions, he required medication and sometimes even surgery which produced trash as well. I usually return the pill bottles and jars to the veterinarian so they can dispose of it. I’m lucky that I live in an area that allows free medical waste dumping, and even if I didn’t, I know my veterinarian will collect the medical waste from his patients for a small fee.

As for toys, he never loved to play with a lot of toys. In fact, he really only likes his catnip pillow, shoelaces and metal chain necklaces . I had a catnip plant that I grew for him awhile back and once in awhile, I would dry the catnip leaves and compost the old catnip. I would then refill his pillow with new dry catnip. Unfortunately he liked it so much that he would lay on it and eventually crushed the life out of it. That too went into the compost bin. I’m lucky that he’s easily entertained. He also never wanted his own bed, he always just adopted any place in the house to sleep.

Facts:

  1. Urinary Tract Infection Medical History = Prescription Diet c/d canned food & Filtered water with charcoal filters
  2. Diabetes II Medical History= Glucose Management m/d canned food, insulin needles, insulin medication
  3. Indoor & Outdoor cat = Advantage Flea Medication BUT no litter box
  4. Entertainment = Catnip pillow, but I refill the catnip pillow with fresh catnip. He just likes to play with shoelaces and metal chain necklaces.

So the recyclable items that I do produce are the tin cans of UTI food and diabetic food. His insulin medication, insulin needles and other medications are also recycleable, but considered medical waste recycling. The charcoal filters and advantage flea medication are the items that do end up in the landfill. I actually have a separate jar of trash that comes from owning a cat. He also no longer uses the water fountain that used the charcoal filters, he requests fresh water from the faucet when he’s thirsty with a drawn out meow.

Trying to own a pet and not produce trash from them is quite difficult. I know this much, to take on a pet is a great amount of responsibility and it is not a simple responsibility to ignore. I am not a veterinarian and I do not know what nutrients he needs and the sufficient amount of each nutrient and vitamin, therefore I do not attempt to make cat food on my own. He has very few toys, only wants his catnip pillow, which I will stuff with fresh catnip and compost the old catnip.

I started this journey almost five years ago, so I’ve compiled a nice amount of Advantage Flea Medication applicators for cats as well as charcoal filters. He stopped using the water fountain about three years ago, so he hasn’t produced anymore trash from that. He probably won’t last through the end of this year, but it’s amazing to see how much owning a pet can add to your trash collection. Once you lay it all out and calculate the amount of trash that’s produced, it’s an eye opening realization of what you’re contributing to the landfill.

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:

2013-05-12 23.11.29

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.

DSC_3627

DSC_3630

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.