I'm afraid my carbon footprint is huge! I've been in a long-distance relationship for several years, and that means driving several hours a few times a month. In the past four months, I've put 8,000 miles on my car!
My environmentally savvy friends scoff at me when I mention my regular long road trips. But I don't want to break up with my boyfriend, and I can't very well drive a scooter on the Interstate. If I could afford a Prius, I'd buy one, but those are out of my price range. What can I do to lessen my environmental impact?
-- Love Polluter
Dear Love Polluter,
Since your car is likely the largest culprit in your footprint, all those trips have a huge impact. But don't go breaking up with your boyfriend. There are other things you can do to lessen your impact without going solo.
For starters, head to WhatsMyCarbonFootprint.com to determine how many tons of CO2 you're responsible for releasing into the atmosphere each year. The website asks questions about heating and cooling your home, the mileage you put on your car (you're in trouble on that one), and recycling habits.
Though you can't do much about your frequent trips, you can go green in other ways. Get the most bang for your environmental buck by giving up meat products. A 2006 United Nations report called the industrial meat industry "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."
That same report said that meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation in the world combined. So, that's a big one. It also helps to eat as local and in-season as possible since out-of-season produce racks up a lot of food miles in the trip from farm to plate. Hit the Memphis Farmer's Market on Saturdays or the Memphis Botanic Garden Market on Wednesday afternoons.
You can also reduce car trips around town. Walk or bike when you can, and carpool when you're planning to meet up with friends (carpooling also means someone else can drive your drunk ass home when you go out to party on the weekends).
Make sure your tires are properly inflated to maintain optimal gas mileage. (Obama was right about that.)
And of course, switch your light bulbs out to the energy-efficient kind. They're a little more expensive but they'll save you money on your utility bill in the long run. Don't run your AC or heater unless you really need it. These upcoming fall months are perfect for saving power.
And finally, don't forget to recycle.
Got a problem. Bianca's got the answer: email@example.com