Friday, October 26, 2007

Carbon Footprint

I had the sneaky suspicion that just by moving to Sri Lanka I had decreased my carbon footprint, even though I am decidedly less green here than in the U.S. I'm basing my greenness on everyday actions -- I bought more organic vegetables in the U.S., I used a low-flow shower head, I didn't burn my garbage.

So I took the test. It took some time to find a test that would let me try my life in DC and then my life in Sri Lanka. My carbon output for DC is ten tons; eight for Sri Lanka. I have to believe the difference is location because the changes in test answers were as follows:

Test 1 -- DC
Test 2 -- Boralesgamuwa, Sri Lanka

Test 1 -- 1 bedroom attached house with one resident
Test 2 -- 4 bedroom detached house with three residents

Test 1 -- bus and subway occasionally, walking/biking most of the time
Test 2 -- walking/biking all the time

Water use:
Test 1 -- low flow shower head
Test 2 -- nothing

Light bulbs:
Test 1 -- energy efficient bulbs in 75% of fixtures (I had those stupid flood lights in a couple of rooms!)
Test 2 -- energy efficient bulbs in 15% of fixtures (2 actually)

Test 1 -- average $25/month electricity bill
Test 2 -- average $35/month electricity bill (remember there are three of us using this resource -- plus electricity is made from petrol so it is more expensive).

For flights I used the same number, because although I'm not flying as many short flights now, I'll be increasing my long-haul flights and at this point they are the same (since you are calculating your flights over the last year).

Now to me these differences do not necessarily mean I'm greener in Sri Lanka, but the results show I am. I really believe there is some premium added to your footprint just for living in a developed country. I wonder if I started answering the same answers for other countries (like Canada or France) if my footprint would be bigger or smaller.

Clearly I'm a little obsessed with carbon this week.

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