Surprising Green New Year's Resolution

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Resolving to be greener for the year is not always easy to do, especially if you fancy yourself someone who is already a little green around the collar.

I can't say that I feel an overwhelming urge to try something new at the start of the new year, but I can assure you that many people do. My friends have been pestering me to reveal my new year's resolution for 2013 and most of my answers have been met with some rather underwhelmed expressions. I guess you can't get away with "typical" resolutions when you are a sustainability manager.

So I started to do a little bit of research about what would be an appropriate resolution for 2013, you know one that is meaningful and easy to do and is good for the planet. But at the same time, the resolution has to be a bit of a sacrifice  I decided to narrow down my resolution to something related to CO2 production. I know that there are a lot of other issues out there to focus on but with so many of my friends coming back from DOHA with stories to tell, it kind of seemed like the right thing to do for this year.

The next challenge was to find one of the biggest sources of CO2 generation. The usual suspects aside, this was actually kind of hard to do. I don't own a car (2.5 tonnes of CO2 per year), and I don't eat meat (16 tonnes CO2 for 1 tonne of beef and 11 tonnes of CO2 for 1 tonne of porc). I thought about only going for local wine (a bottle of imported wine will set you back 1.3 tonnes of CO2 while it would take 6 cases of local wine to get to that number) or reducing my strawberry consumption (5.2 tonnes of CO2 a year).
*these numbers were taken from UNESCO

I don't do much travel by air so that is a plus. Rearing a kid would add another 17 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere so I'll avoid that for 2013. I gotta tell you, after a couple of hours of searching I was getting pretty frustrated, I mean I already took care to avoid a lot of the things that were bad for the environment.

And then I found the Holy Grail of environmentally damaging things; in fact I found two of them. They were sitting under my nose this whole time. The first was pop, soda, carbonated beverages.... whatever you want to call it. In the U.S. the opening of fizzy drinks accounts for about 400,000 tonnes of CO2 every year (d'uh, how could I have missed that one). And the second thing was eggs. To create one egg requires 200 litres of water (that means I could flush my toilet 20 times or take a 30 minute shower and still not use up as much water). Yeah I know this isn't really a CO2 thing but by this point I was willing to diversify.

So that's it. This year I am dramatically going to curb my consumption of eggs and carbonated beverages in order to be a greener citizen. I am open to low carbon alternatives if you have any. And if you are looking for a green resolution of your own, check out some of the things I mentioned above.

~ jON - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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