Your smaller carbon footprint can make a difference!

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It’s very easy for all of us to fall into the trap of “what difference will just one person make?”  Well, according to new statistics out by McKinsey & Co. (yes, that McKinsey…and these guys don’t fool around), American consumers have direct or indirect control over 65% of the country’s ghg emissions. 65%!!! (please note that the figure is 43% for the rest of the world).  This requires a major shift in perception, given that we have all been told that the biggest gains in cutting emissions would have to come from the industry sector.

Well, we could go into the fact that the US has 5% of the world’s population and burns 23% of the world’s oil, but that’s a downward spiralling conversation.  Instead, how about we look at the areas we have direct control over…

  • Cars – 17% of U.S. ghg emissions come from passenger cars.  To make a difference in this area you could drive a more fuel efficient car, and/or drive less.
  • Air travel – 2% of US emissions.  To make a difference you could fly less.
  • Housing and appliances – 17% of emissions.  To make a difference here, you could make sure your house is well insulated, lower your thermostat, use energy efficient appliances, live in a smaller dwelling…

I have to say when I looked at the areas where individual consumers have “indirect” control, it all comes down to looking for alternatives.  These are areas like sea transportation (1%), agricultural and livestock emissions (2%), landfill emissions (3%), commercial vehicles (9%), and commercial buildings and appliances (14%).

What kind of alternatives am I thinking about?

  • Buy locally
  • Buy from smaller stores, not big box retailers
  • Eat less meat
  • Buy American made products
  • Be careful about what you throw away
  • Support businesses that are creating green initiatives

The sticking point, one has to grapple with, is that you’re not always going to save green to be green…

Special thanks to Jeff Ball at the WSJ for writing “A Big Sum of Small Differences,” 2 Oct.2008 which brought this to my attention.


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This entry was posted on October 9, 2008 by in Dark Green, Green, Light Green, Medium Green and tagged , , , .

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