Monday, October 30, 2006

Apparently, I'm addicted to internet challenges.

I signed up today for the Slate Green Challenge, which is billed as "a straightforward program to evaluate and reduce your carbon emissions between now and the end of the year" and is presented in partnership with the extremely content-dense, eco-friendly Treehugger is looking to add writers, which made my heart sing until I saw that they're only looking for people to write about cars & transportation, science / technology / gadgets, and architecture / "home." I might email them anyway and ask if they need anyone to do any "reuse" articles. I'd love to do something based on reusing non-recyclables as craft supplies or constructing a wardrobe almost entirely from thrift store purchases (eco- and socially-friendly, as buying secondhand doesn't put any money into sweatshop economies).

Then again, I don't have the time to properly read Treehugger, so I don't know when I think I'm going to have time to write for it, even if they did on some snowball's chance actually express interest. And let's not even talk about those other projects I'm supposed to start in two days, or the book blog and self-assigned reading project I've been pitifully neglecting for months. (Never fear, book fans...I'm fully prepared to include badgerbooks in the NaBloPoMo project, so when I can't come up with anything to say here, I'll post a book review over there.) Finally, I already spend way too much time on the internet, so it's probably best not to add another research-heavy online endeavor.

To awkwardly segue back to the original topic, I took the initial Green Challenge Quiz to determine my estimated annual carbon usage. It was really simple, and didn't require as much guesswork / semi-informed calculation as most of the "What is your footprint?" quizzes I've taken in the past.

I found it irritating that the quiz didn't include "I don't have a dishwasher" as an option for the "dishwasher use" question. There was no dishwasher in the house where I grew up (still isn't one), nor was there a dishwasher in any of the three apartments I've lived in since I moved out of my parents' house. Small potatoes, but it's a bit unfair to assume that everyone who might be interested in taking the quiz has a dishwasher.

I found this somewhat disheartening: "I choose paper over plastic—-which means that I'm actually causing more atmospheric pollution, not less." I am ridiculously dedicated to asking for paper bags over plastic at the grocery store, because I always believed they were better. I'm still not convinced I'm entirely wrong, because paper sacks can be readily recycled and plastic sacks less so. Where we live, paper sacks can be put out with the curbside recycling to be picked up by the bi-weekly city-provided recycling trucks, or taken to the recycling center at the nature preserve. Plastic sacks can only be recycled by dropping them off at Wal-Mart or at a local grocery store, and a friend who used to work at the grocery store says that those bags often ended up in the Dumpster anyway when she worked there. Then again, in my heart I know I should haul my vast collection of reusable canvas tote bags to the grocery with me. Lord knows I have enough of them.

Here are my results:

Your annual carbon emissions are 11,411.32 lbs.

That's equivalent to the emissions from 1.12 passenger cars.

Average carbon emissions per year, per person:
United States: 44,312
Qatar: 117,064
France: 13,668
India: 2,645
Kenya: 440

Week One:  Transportation

I didn't score very high on the first quiz, because I'm trying to be honest, and the only thing I could honestly say I will actually not flake out on is to check my tire pressure once a month. I also semi-cheated and said I'd forego two 1.5 hour flights this year, which is easy since the flights in and out of Seattle were the first ones I'd taken since 1999, and are likely to be the last ones I take for the next few years. "Your score is 845, which means you've promised to take the annual equivalent of 0.09 cars off the road." According to the results page, "Keeping your tires properly inflated saves about 250 pounds of CO2 a year."

Week Two:  Heating

Again, not doing too great. "Your score is 800, which means you've promised to take the annual equivalent of 0.08 cars off the road." I got somewhat screwed because we rent. We can't caulk, weatherstrip, add insulation to our walls and ceilings, or add storm windows. I agreed to turn the thermostat down 2 degrees during the day over the winter, which should be pretty easy. We'll also be wedging a blanket against the base of the sliding door again this year, to stop a draft that's strong enough to make the curtains move in the breeze. Gah.

The challenge lasts for 8 weeks, and this week is week two. You can start at any point during the eight weeks, too, which is cool. I'll probably keep track of my quiz results with a weekly update post...which takes care of six NaBloPoMo obligations right off the top. Score.

I wish I could claim the credit for finding this:

...but all the props for finding a pattern to make a knitted trilobite go to Evil Ducky.

I wish I had the uterus and occasion to wear this shirt.
(click & then scroll down)

Just finished: Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner. I highly recommend it.

Reading: Jorge Luis Borges for school.

Playing: it cool.


  1. I want one of thoe trilobites!!!!!!!

  2. Evilducky774:33 PM

    Did you all see the Nautiloid knitting pattern to go along with the Trilobite?

    Too bad both of them are beyond my knitting powers.


  3. I'm so glad you read Little Earthquakes; people reading Jennifer Weiner makes me happy.

  4. I just got done driving across five states and NaNoWriMo starts in three hours and fifteen minutes.

    Perhaps I should quit reading things that remind me of ridiculous obligations that I've laden myself with.

    But where would the fun be in that?

  5. so, about this paper/plastic thing... does that take into account that you can fit more stuff in a paper bag, or is this a per bag comparison of pollution?

  6. The rabidmonkey makes a good point.

  7. It didn't explain. I'm sure there'll be a whole week devoted to packaging / shopping, so I'll keep you posted. I am curious as well.