Following a session with Carbon Coach Dave Hampton, Mace director Gary France vowed to leave his gaz guzzling 4x4 on the front drive. Find out how the carbon diet is going one month later.
It has now been a few weeks since I met with Building and the carbon coach, Dave Hampton. I pledged to do something about my personal carbon footprint within 100 days of that meeting, so it is time for me to review how I am getting on and to give Building an update.
I guess that in common with a lot of people I was already beginning to think about how my lifestyle was affecting the earth. While I understood the concept that carbon emissions were bad for the planet, it was never something I had looked at in any detail. Instinctively I knew I needed to do something - I was already conscious that driving my 4x4 to work was not helping, but I needed to find out more in order to back up my instincts with some facts.
However, therein lies the problem. The facts are either difficult to understand or are somewhat contradictory and this doesn't help. We are probably stuck with the measurement by which carbon gas creation is measured in tonnes, but this is a difficult concept to get your head around - at least it is for me. Similarly, calculating your personal carbon footprint isn't simple. Neither is comparing the size of your own carbon footprint with others easy - 10 minutes on the internet told me the average footprint in the UK could be 5 tonnes, 10 tonnes or 12.5 tonnes - and these are all "official" figures.
These difficulties aside, I do know that my personal carbon footprint is too high and I made five pledges to do something about it within 100 days, so what have I done so far?
Well, it seemed obvious for me to tackle my biggest sources of carbon creation first. Given that these were also some of the easiest to deal with meant that I would attack these as a priority. We all like quick wins! Two of my pledges centred on travelling. It was obvious that to stop using my lovely comfortable Range Rover to get to work and switch use one of my smaller cars or travel by train was something I just had to do and I have done exactly that. Since meeting Dave Hampton and Building, the Range Rover has stayed on the drive and most days I have driven my Mini to work. On the other days I have taken the train. Pledge number one successfully met, saving about 3.5 tonnes of carbon per year.
Next, one of my single biggest carbon generators was my wife and I made return flights to Seattle to see my wife's family. This generated 4 tonnes of carbon for the two of us and this represents a massive 20% of my carbon footprint. Okay, I have already made those flights so that carbon has already been generated and I cannot reduce it, but there was something else I could do. Dave Hampton told me about what is known as carbon offsets. You can offset the carbon generated from flights by paying for carbon reducing projects such as tree planting which absorbs the CO2 we create.
I went to www.climatecare.org and calculated I would need to pay £32.70 to offset the 4.36 tonnes of carbon generated from these flights. Reading the website convinced me this was a worthwhile route to take and so out came the credit card. This reduced my own personal carbon footprint by another 2 tonnes. Pledge number two successfully met.
So, just a few weeks into my 100 day period, I have already hit two of my five pledges and reduced my personal carbon footprint by 5.5 tonnes, which is now down from 16 tonnes to 10.5 tonnes. Pretty good going really!