For a variety of reasons, I will be primarily riding a bike or taking the bus rather than driving a car once I move to my new city in a few weeks. These reasons include saving money on gas and parking, the exercise benefits of riding a bike, and doing my part to save the environment. In order to quantify the last part, I used a website to calculate my carbon footprint. The results were not as good as I had hoped.
Last year, living with three roommates in a four-bedroom apartment and driving a Honda Accord a low to moderate amount, I produced approximately 15 tons of carbon dioxide. Next year, the main changes will be almost no driving (I will be occasionally using a car sharing service that uses hybrid cars), but I will be living by myself in a one-bedroom apartment.
But even though my new driving habits will save 2 tons of carbon dioxide per year, and my new state produces cleaner electricity (less coal), my carbon footprint comes out exactly the same! I have to admit that I am somewhat disappointed that whatever environmental benefit I will create by not driving will be offset by my living on my own. Oh well, I still come out better than if I lived on my own AND drove every day.
One thing that I left out: my cross-country flights for grad school visits last year produced 7 tons of carbon dioxide. I don’t think there’s much risk of me repeating that this year, as no one will be reimbursing me for flights this time around.