Zero Emissions Day

Day 264 – The worldwide movement known as Zero Emissions Day, or ZeDay, began on September 21st, 2008, and aims to encourage the use of renewable energy sources to “give the planet a day off” from emissions.

Here are some ways you can celebrate the day:

  1. Consider riding your bike or car pooling today.
  2. Consider utilizing solar or battery (rechargeable) operated devices.
  3. Consider making meals that can be made with minimal energy or no energy at all, like a salad.

Does reducing emissions really make an impact?

The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculator which shows the equivalencies for energy-related emissions reductions so each individual can see their impact as it relates to their lifestyle. 

Even though Zero Emissions Day is celebrated only once a year, it is definitely something we need to work towards to achieve on a daily basis. The only way we will be able to combat global warming is to reduce the green house gasses being emitted into the atmosphere. Achieving zero emissions will be a game changer.

To read about 10 ways to help your home achieve net zero emissions click HERE.

Tomorrow, cutting out plastic cutlery.

Fossil Fools Day

Image borrowed from National Geographic

Day 91 – It is no joke that the use of fossil fuels is not good for the planet. However, we rely on them everyday. The gas in our cars, the flame on our stoves and the electricity needed to power our lights are just a few ways we have become dependent on fossil fuels . It is such an efficient source of energy and even its byproducts are used to produce plastic, which can be found in pretty much everything. Unfortunately, the use of fossil fuels is killing our planet. The release of fossil fuels pollutes the air (among other things) and increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which contributes to greenhouse gases. Like an actual greenhouse that traps heat to keep plants and other vegetation nice and warm during the cooler months, greenhouse gases are trapped in our atmosphere and heats up the planet. The more greenhouse gases, the more heat that is produced. This increase in temperature is causing global warming.

So, what can be done? What is the answer to this global problem?

Well, the answer is renewable energy sources. There is much debate when it comes to fossil fuels vs. renewable energy. For me, it seems like a no brainer. Choose the energy sources that will stop destroying the planet.

  1. Biomass – wood waste, solid waste, biodiesel, etc.
  2. Hydropower
  3. Geothermal
  4. Wind
  5. Solar

Imagine a world, where we are able to power our homes with the waste we produce. It sounds like science fiction but it’s already happening at waste management facilities. This type of resource is only viable if the emissions given off by burning trash are kept from entering the atmosphere. Unfortunately, many facilities are not equipped and end up polluting the air.

In 2017, a press release from the Argonne National Laboratory discusses a paper written in the Journal of Cleaner Production, which helps assess the environmental benefits of various waste-to-energy production pathways while avoiding emissions of methane and other harmful air pollutants. The paper was written by Uisung Lee of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. In his paper, he writes,

“By using waste to produce energy, we can avoid emissions from landfills and potentially reduce the need for additional landfills across the country.” 

“Our study shows that using what would otherwise become landfill waste to produce fuel typically generates less greenhouse gases than simply letting the waste decompose.”

The work has already started to move our country and the world to renewable resources. So, what can we do to help the cause?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m in no position to purchase an electric car at the moment, or invest in a wind turbine. The solar panels, on the other hand, are something to look into. What I can do, is support renewable energy whenever and wherever it makes sense to do so. Realizing that this is the direction we all need to move to ensure a healthier planet is the first step. Convincing an oil loving country that we need other options is a Herculean challenge, but as consumers, we have more power than we think.

Tomorrow, voting with our purchases.

Carbon Footprint: Tools to calculate your impact

Day 68 – A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.

“The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons. To have the best chance of avoiding a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop under 2 tons by 2050.”The Nature Conservancy

Image borrowed from EchoTalk.org

By using a Carbon Footprint Calculator we can start figuring out how much greenhouse gas emissions we produce through our daily activities. Once we figure out where we are with our production of greenhouse gases, we can better understand how to reduce those emissions.

So what goes into calculating your carbon footprint? Information like how much electricity and natural gas your home uses in a year. What kind of car do you drive? Do you take public transportation? Even what kind of food and beverage you consume and the clothes you wear can affect your carbon footprint.

Earth911 recommends various Carbon Footprint Calculators. If you choose to use one, be sure to use the same one throughout your calculations. Jumping around from calculator to calculator will not be beneficial.

Carbon Footprint – This calculator is described as “extremely thorough”, which makes me a little apprehensive. It also uses British currency and measurements. So, conversions will be needed. I would rather not do extra math if I don’t have to.

World Wildlife Calculator – This is offered by the British division of the WWF. So, I’m guessing extra calculations would be needed to convert to U.S. currency and measurements. They do offer advice on reducing your carbon footprint available on their site.

CoolClimate Network – Created by the University of California Berkley, this calculator illustrates the breakdown of emissions across individual categories of activity.

Other sites mentioned:

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Carbon Footprint Calculator
  2. TerraPass Carbon Calculator
  3. The Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator

I’m going to start using the The Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator. I’ve chosen this calculator because I’m familiar with this organization. I really don’t know any specifics about the calculator, but will definitely update everyone on how it’s going. Please be sure to share how your carbon footprint calculator experience is going, too, if you choose to do it. I would love to know what kind of changes you have made to reduce your carbon footprint.

Tomorrow, be sure to pack your lunch.