This is going to be my first blog post ever and I have decided to make it as “green” (pun intended) as possible! Below is a recount of my experience with a Life Style Project which I did in my Environmental Science class. I tracked my daily activity for four weeks straight and focused on improving my habits of resource use, specifically in regards to water, waste, and transportation. I had to take a Life Style Survey and calculate my ecological and carbon footprints at the beginning and end of the project and below is what I found. The next three posts will discuss in detail my findings about water, transportation, and waste! Enjoy!
I have learned a lot from participating in the Life Style Project for my Environmental Science class. Having taken the Life Style Survey at the beginning raised my awareness and I was glad to notice changes for the better by the end of the four weeks of the project. The Life Style Survey gave me a rough guideline of things I needed to work on, pay attention to, and change – such as my transportation, water, and waste habits – and although I would have liked to have worked on energy and food as well, I felt like I could actually make realistic and impactful changes using the other 3 categories. Having started taking the bus more and taking shorter showers has dramatically decreased my score from 56 to 25 on the Life Style Survey and from 3.8 Earths to 3.6 for my Eco Footprint! Also, keeping my computer off or not plugged in when I am not using it and running it on the battery unless I really need to charge it also helped lower my Life Style Survey score. I became more mindful of going to sleep earlier so I would not have to keep the lights on and use more of daylight to do my work. It is definitely hard to break habits and change your ways, and sometimes, it was inevitable to revert to how I was doing things before, life is unpredictable. But being mindful of the water and public transit has definitely created an impact in my life but also in my circle of friends. I have started to suggest taking buses to hang out, trains, carpooling, or doing stuff that does not require paying money for the entertainment, which was both refreshing, relieving, and more fun, not to mention saving money. Things like visiting bookstores, playing in the park, tennis, sports, walking, and simply going out to the park became much more appealing and I was glad to see my friends agree with me!
I listen to music on the computer, and my TV I rarely turn on, except to watch a DVD once in a while. I do spend time with family in the evenings – we all watch TV together, so I am not sure if that counts as my personal TV time. I also started to use cold water for washing clothes, since hot water uses more energy, and it made a difference. Overall, reducing use of resources just seems economical, logical, simple, and the one true answer of conserving our resources for future generations and ensuring we have enough for our own! Having learned that so much energy goes into producing food (meat especially), supplying water, and that farming uses the most water in USA, I became very mindful in how I use water in all aspects of my life and started to think what it takes (energy, manpower, fuel, electricity, dams, transportation, etc.) and how much it costs to provide that water.
Finally, I became more aware of recycled products like toilet paper and printer paper – although it may cost a few dollars more, I am glad to make a huge difference by not adding new demand for cutting down of more forests of which there is so little left. I got also another idea up my sleeve to start going to Whole Foods and buying grains like rice and macaroni there to reduce buying packaged stuff. For the Carbon Footprint Calculator, I estimated with numbers leaning on the higher end of the scale, so I am happy to see that Food and Transportation metrics went down, from 10.9 tons CO2/year to 4.9 for travel and 6.5 to 3.8 for Food. I believe its due to taking the car less and in terms of food, I started buying more local foods and less processed foods like chips and drinks. I also believe that my estimates may have played a role in the differences in the numbers, yet overall, the numbers agree with the fact that my consumption became more ecofriendly, went down in that sense, yet I do want to account for estimation error from the first and final times that I took these quizzes. The housing footprint remained about the same around 3.5 tons CO2/year and the shopping footprint I believe went down because I estimated better using the detailed version because I have not really changed my shopping patterns, except to say that I rarely go shopping or upgrade my wardrobe, if anything I buy gifts more often and if I shop for myself I do it all at once or twice a year and try to buy things that I really need or those that have either worn out or somehow stopped functioning. The good news is, all my numbers , in all calculators, were below the nation’s averages for those categories, yet it was disconcerting to see my lifestyle habits still require 3.6 Earths to sustain all my current needs. More on this later.