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11 ways to cut your carbon footprint to zero

 
steward
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I have to warn you, I get the impression that the content of this video is extremely controversial ...




A couple days ago I happened to be on reddit and I saw this really cool image.



So I wrote a post that was basically the info in the video which had not been released yet.

For those that want to give a thought to their own stuff

The average american adult carbon footprint is 30 tons per year.

   Switch to an electric car - save 2.0 tons per year
   laundry with cold water and line/rack drying - save 4.0 tons per year
   switching all the lights in your house to LED - save 0.04 tons per year
   going pooless - save 0.25 tons per year

Food

   strict vegan diet - save 4.5 tons per year
   omnivore diet with 100% of animal products from 100% pastured sources - save 6.5 tons per year
   meeting 90% of your food needs from a garden - save 10 tons per year

Heat

(focusing on heat in a cold climate - using data for montana; 25% of montana households heat with electricity which has a carbon footprint of 29.4 tons; natural gas is 8.9 tons and wood is 4.4 tons; a rocket mass heater is 0.4 tons)

   switching from electric heat to natural gas heat - save 20.5 tons per home per year
   switching from electric heat to a rocket mass heater - save 29.0 tons per home per year
   using electric micro heaters to heat people instead of the whole house with electric heat - save 23.5 tons per home per year

trees

   apple a day (plant all the seeds, if 5% reach maturity ...) - sequester 100 tons per year



I would link to the post, only it was deleted because the moderators felt it was "greenwashing."

There were so many objections.   Most of them objecting to the "pastured sources".   And they would not accept any mention of allan savory's work.

For the heat, people seemed keen to ignore the "montana" part.  I use montana data because that is where I live and I know that I need to be really specific or else become the google mommy for every nitwit across the globe as they want to talk about what their region is like.


 
paul wheaton
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I gotta say that the comments for the image were hilarious.  At least 80% just amped up their blame to others.  And then came stuff about capitalism vs. china.  

It feels a bit weird to me that people will point to bad guys and yell, while simultaneously giving them money.  And then they say that they cannot live without the product.  

And, the 30 tons figure ... that is for the average US adult and includes both "direct" and "indirect".  "indirect" being the stuff from all the bad guys that we pay for them to do their bad stuff.
 
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Liked, shared on fb & twitter
 
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Well, it is a polarizing subject which I attribute to nearly 60% to political Shenanigans and 40% to individual choice. The product producers make their product for whatever it costs to make it + profit. We all know humans make "stupid" decisions every day. The political class gets involved and makes the production environment such that most products get outsourced to places like China where they seem to enjoy spewing as much carbon into the air as much as possible.

In my experience, people in the end will make decisions that are the most convenient for them. In my personal case, at my tiny home (not my main home), l use as much solar powered equipment that I can. I have solar panels, however to use them, I'd have to remove 9 mature Oak trees which, to me, makes no sense, so I use a CA spproved generator.
 
gardener
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I personally enjoyed the video very much. The graphics were lovely, not moving too fast, the captions were easily readable, the voice over was sublime,  and the facts were stated very objectively and in a non-confrontational way. Kudos who produced that video. Very well done.

If people get their panties in a bunch, I'm going to assume it's because you led them to a sort of cognitive dissonance. They've been living their lives a way that they feel is good, only to be challenged to move to the next level. Change is hard.

What I most enjoyed, however, was the fact that most of the ideas were very achievable and practical. Really, how hard is it to throw your fruit pits onto some dirt?! Washing laundry in cold water?! Using space heaters instead of a whole-house furnace?! The last two are actually money-saving tips, in my opinion. Win-win for the earth and your wallet.
 
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I appreciate the video and the diagram including their high production values. To the right audience they will have resonance and utility. I'm thinking that when you pair them you might have inadvertently stepped in it. By only talking about what individuals can do, the video ignores the other two points of the triangle. It ends up doing little to counteract the argument that personal action makes no difference. I'm not saying I believe that. I too have worked hard to reduce my carbon foot-print for the last two decades. But I have come to realize that my emphasis on personal action was problematic in numerous ways. Early in my journey I underestimated the importance of the political system and the entrenched nature of fossil fuel-based capitalism.

The video speaks to people like I used to be in the early part of my journey; those that want to make personal choices that at least demonstrate that a lower carbon footprint lifestyle is possible. And that gets at a need that was and remains urgent. We need more examples of happy people living without so much stuff and wasting so much energy. But that's its limit. Beyond that, every time one of us reduces our resource consumption, the "market" reallocates that resource to someone else who wanted more at a slightly lower price. This is why despite putting renewable energy sources in place at the fastest rate ever, carbon-based energy use has also expanded. Despite all our efforts for decades we have not reached that tipping point, that critical mass necessary to circumvent that "market" mechanism and bring real and lasting change. I do believe we are getting closer to that tipping point, however. So we need to keep producing those happy examples of post-carbon life.

However, by taking sides in the debate of who is responsible and who needs to change in order to set things right, we end up deepening the divide as we play into the same ol' dynamics of blame. The triangle diagram depicts reality in an important sense. All three points of the triangle need to change in order to move things to a brighter future. If any one point of the triangle changes without the other points changing, the system will snap back to what it was doing before. And blame is the real enemy here. We need to stop arguing about the specifics, about anything that triggers people to feel blamed, and instead focus on the things that we can largely agree upon. So I'm sorry you got the reaction you did, but I am not at all surprised. I'm guessing your erstwhile attackers felt invalidated by what you had to say, because you directly challenged their reality/identity and in some sense, placed the blame at their feet. I'm sure you didn't mean to and that you were trying to keep it positive and there is nothing wrong with that. I'm sure the video will help create positive change for those who are open to it, as will the diagram. For those that have already made up their minds, it will little or nothing. For them you just poked the hornets nest.
 
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I was pleasantly surprised that the video showed up in my Facebook feed. I experienced a moment of pride because I knew what it would be about since I have passed a 1 year mark here at permies.com!
 
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I like the infographic, it sums things up nice and simply.

I had a giggle at the video though.... go pooless?  Should it be poolless?
 
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I should probably really think this comment through but a spontaneous question to chuck in the mix ....would any of this matter if we had "Nicola Tesla" style free energy...
 
paul wheaton
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Sarah Davidson wrote:I had a giggle at the video though.... go pooless?  Should it be poolless?



https://permies.com/t/pooless

 
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Pooless threw me too. I was thinking that would be uncomfortable at best. Then I remembered it meant shampooless. But what about TP-less?
 
pollinator
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Thank you Paul.

Here are 2 thing the millennials have taught this old bird.

Better timed work schedule.  Getting to an off homestead work sight takes way less time and energy when before or after the majority is at work.

Work around the sun schedule "daylight drive".  I often wondered why we work for others in the prime of our day when the sun is giving us the most power.  Here from noon till about 3:00 we have 2000w extra available. That makes for a good time to run corn shellers and food processing equipment. I also charge all the batteries for the mower, weed eater, drills, and saws during this time.

Here is another thing I ponder.  Mowing grass, is there a solar way to do it?  Is there grass that grows slower the more rain we get?  Maybe this is a good fit for gmo grass. Maybe we can come up with a lush green slow growing grass that is tuff and only needs mowing once a month. My neighbor mowed her 1-3/4 acre yard 3 times last week.  She only mows when the sun shines. She told me that she uses about 3 gal of gasoline per mowing.  That is 9 gal per week!  That is 3-4 times the fuel I use to run the farm and go to work once a week.  She is not a bad person she just likes to have her lawn look really mowed.
 
Sarah Davidson
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Hahaha, thanks for the clarification!  I thought it meant people shouldn’t have swimming pools.  Duh 🙄
 
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Okay, second try--
First, I liked the video, which was nice and clear except the "pooless" bit which I thought was maybe about composting toilets. But I want to point out first of all that the numbers are controversial, so you maybe have to say where you got them. For example, the "changing all your light bulbs to LEDs" being only .04? And then, in some cases it depends on context, like veganism versus animal products sourced from pastured animals...a conversion to veganism affects the whole agricultural system so just deducting the carbon cost of producing meat and dairy doesn't yield a cut-and-dried definite number. Beef from US CAFOs? Eggs bought at a local farmers' market, from a free range establishment?
And the biggie maybe is planting all those apple trees. I have argued against the Trillion Tree initiative and similar dreams thus:  You can't just say, we need to get rid of XXXXX tons of CO2, a mature tree sequesters XX tons a year, so we need to plant XXXX trees. For one thing, a lot of that is about financial incentives to cut forests, plant tree plantations, perhaps with GMO trees, and pretend you've got a new forest equivalent to the old one. It's not, it's a sterile monoculture with little habitat for increasingly desperate species. But more to the point is this: it's pointless to plant trees anywhere they won't grow because it's too dry, too wet, too hot or too cold. Places that ARE good for forests already have forests--trees can plant themselves! If a place appropriate for trees doesn't already have them it's because humans have cut them down, either for lumber, in which case the forest will come back on its own, or it was to make space for cities or agriculture, neither of which we're likely to need LESS space for any time soon. Unless we have a massive human die-off which unfortunately is not a remote possibility. As to choosing to increase the percentage of trees that bear edible food, I'm all for it.

I think we do need to focus on changing our own lifestyles, for credibility and to provide a model, and to stop contributing to the problem; but we also need to work on a somewhat larger scale, by working against whatever stupid new fossil fuel projects are proposed for our own region.
 
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Sooo, if the average american seeds 3 apples per week then no other action is required, it would have balanced the emissions.
This is, if he can find a suitable spot to seed them, where no irrigation or further amendments are required, oh, and not too far from home.
What's more, he could just give money to some organization to plant such number of seeds on his behalf. Conscience easied, back to bussiness.

The video in itself is quite good!

Specific actions are context dependent. I ride my motorbike whenever I can to reduce my car consumption, which is an unavoidable pollution in my case, unless I quit my job. I already spend zero in home heating, it just doesn't make sense in my location.

My general goals are these:
"Don't waste resources, turn your waste into resources".
"Use as little energy as you can, corollary, purchase as least as you can", since wasted energy can't be recycled.
"Adress the biggest consumption first", although I can never be sure with all those hidden costs.

But sometimes it hits me that the more I save on something, the more of that something is available for other people to waste, then population grows and we have achieved nothing but more people whose existence depend on our frugal consumption. If I restrict myself to having zero children, someone will double on theirs because the now available resources. Ultimately only natural limits will be able to limit us.
Working with ferments (sourdough and kefir) has tought me really how sustainability works. As long as I take from them less than they need for recovering, all is well. But this is not how modern world behaves: it will consume everything until depletion and collapse, with the least consideration about the future. Not a thing I can stop. I can prepare myself to live in a world without so many commodities, maybe I can convince some people like me to turn to more sustainable practices and embrace a luxuriant poverty, but that's it.
 
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It is a nice video, nice and brief helps.

But, I think that brevity forces more questions because the statements are too broad.

Switch to an EV, that puts my teeth on edge straight away. Compared to what? A 5l V8 changed for a new one yearly? Or a 1l city car bought from someone who swaps out yearly with the aim to keep it for ten years? What happens to what you swapped from? Trashed and wasted? Running costs only in your figure?

The UK govt has commited to banning ICEs sooner than most but have no sensible alternative that the majority can afford. Swapping to the cheapest new EV for me would not get me to town and back in the winter, so a simple instruction to swap to an EV is what the eco lobby tell me but makes no sense so won't get my vote.

Electrical heat meaning from a heat pump that are currently en vogue here in the UK? Or?

Those irritations grate, making your fine film less impactfull for me.

 
paul wheaton
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I think my book is a about 50 books condensed into an overview.  And those 50 books are a shallow overview of 5000 books.   And the knowledge in this space would fill about 500,000 books.   And what we do not yet know will fill 5 billion books.  

And this video is a 0.5% glimpse into my book.  

So, yeah, some stuff was abbreviated.  
 
Mary Cook
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I'm not sure it's absolutely true that any cutback you make on consumption, waste or procreation will immediately be snatched by someone else, that the only thing that will stop human overshoot is collapse. Okay it's PROBABLY pretty much true. But that's why ideally, one finds way to do what's best for limiting pollution and biodiversity loss, while at the same time setting up oneself, one's family, and ideally one's community (however defined) to best survive the almost certainly coming collapse. There are plenty of things that fit both. Learning to get by on a minimum of external inputs--meaning especially things imported from far away or sourced from faceless global chains as opposed to the mom-and-pop there's only one of, in your town--reduces your contribution to the problem and makes you more resilient. Arrangements with neighbors, or local groups like bike coops, farmers markets, CSAs help create the kind of locale that can survive some kind of collapse. So--while there's certainly truth in what you say--don't let it be an excuse to do nothing!
 
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Abraham Palma wrote:But sometimes it hits me that the more I save on something, the more of that something is available for other people to waste, then population grows and we have achieved nothing but more people whose existence depend on our frugal consumption. If I restrict myself to having zero children, someone will double on theirs because the now available resources. Ultimately only natural limits will be able to limit us.



I think that reasoning would apply if we were at a point of consuming 100% of what is truly available globally, as in many children were dying all over the globe due to an absolute lack of food/medicine/clean water, and not because of  unequal distribution/access to food/medicine/clean water as it is today. As in your family can only access 5000 calories of food a day no matter what for 2 parents and a kid, so having another kid means there's not enough to feed everyone type of scenario. As it is right now, I've also decided to not have kids but that doesn't mean my neighbor or anyone else will decide to have more kids as a result. I've heard that the greatest tool for reducing population growth is providing access to education and healthcare to women, there's a reduction in birth rates in countries when that happens. The book Radical Simplicity is a good read regarding those true globally equal shares of resources.

As far as changing the 'business as usual' part of our consumption economy and inefficient/wasteful living conditions, that will be a very difficult change to make, even if there weren't others pushing back to maintain that status quo. I believe it was Frank Lloyd Wright who came up with the Usonian community during the Great Depression, where simple and affordable houses that blend in with nature are built in tight-knit communities, with their own small commercial and work centers so that the community could easily walk to work and shopping and back home. The plots were circular rather than rectangles, making it harder to fence off and keeping as much of the landscape untouched as possible. The houses were single story with low roofs that would blend into the landscape, and used passive solar design with minimum skilled labor to lower costs.

It also used a shared community mortgage, so everyone was part of the community in a very shared financial way too. Since the first community was built in the '40s towards the end of the war, I doubt they all had victory gardens, but that seems to be the final tweak I would make in my Benevolent Overlord design: each house would have its own garden and the shared community spaces and along the paths would include heavy use of food forest elements. Those houses would also be built in a wofati style of course, heated using passive solar backed up with rocket mass heaters as needed and fueled using the cleanup pruning of the community trees and if needed a dedicated community coppice space. It would be a community event during the various harvest times, where everyone comes together and harvests fruit, nuts, and berries. Each house would have a root cellar and there would be a community food bank/cellar as well for surplus, and that could also function as a CSA/market as an income source to sell to those still living in a larger city and lacking access to quality food. The community would have a few shared cars and those who want to use them for a trip beyond what can be reached by foot or bicycle pay a rental fee which covers the maintenance costs (which I think is how Dancing Rabbit currently operates), and the "roads" that wind around to all the houses could be very small and wouldn't need to be concrete or asphalt.

Converting what is currently the norm into a permaculture Usonian design might take a while, hopefully Wheaton Labs can become something along those lines as more people stay long term, and can be an example of what can work long term.
 
Abraham Palma
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"don't let it be an excuse to do nothing!"

Of course not!
This only changes my priorities. Instead of reducing-reducing-reducing (which is the resume of my ecologist life), now I try to get used to the stuff that I think is sustainable and reliable: natural fibers, less plastic, organic food, my own grown food, less sugar, manual tools, that kind of things.
 
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I would substitute electric car for a hybrid car or better still a diesel electric hybrid car.



points out the downside. A diesel has more advantages in that it can
handle biodiesel made from used cooking oil or through pyrolysis
of waste plastic containers which yields about 1 litre of fuel from
1.5 kilo of plastic.
 
pollinator
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Dee Kempson wrote:I should probably really think this comment through but a spontaneous question to chuck in the mix ....would any of this matter if we had "Nicola Tesla" style free energy...



I think some of it would still be relevant, but also that climate change would likely be less of an urgent issue if that was the case. Either way, free anything doesn’t jive with capitalism and wishing it did or dreaming of how it might be really won’t do much more than cause frustration in my mind!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Christopher Shepherd wrote:Thank you Paul.

Here are 2 thing the millennials have taught this old bird.

Better timed work schedule.  Getting to an off homestead work sight takes way less time and energy when before or after the majority is at work.

Work around the sun schedule "daylight drive".  I often wondered why we work for others in the prime of our day when the sun is giving us the most power.  Here from noon till about 3:00 we have 2000w extra available. That makes for a good time to run corn shellers and food processing equipment. I also charge all the batteries for the mower, weed eater, drills, and saws during this time.



You wonder why we work for others in the prime of our day. I wonder why we work for others in the prime of our life...

I feel like nobody should be working 40+ hours a week for money, especially during the prime of their life. It’s a tragedy and unfortunately, its my story so far. We should be reducing work hours and allocating as many able bodied, willing humans to work to rehabilitate land and water, grow organic food crops and education youth about the importance of these activities. But so many of us work a “job” all day, then have to get home to take care of necessary chores, then throw in some unexpected challenges, a shower and dinner and the day is done. Time to sleep so the cycle can repeat over and over until the blessed weekend comes. This is sad and this is normal.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Mary Cook wrote:I'm not sure it's absolutely true that any cutback you make on consumption, waste or procreation will immediately be snatched by someone else, that the only thing that will stop human overshoot is collapse. Okay it's PROBABLY pretty much true. But that's why ideally, one finds way to do what's best for limiting pollution and biodiversity loss, while at the same time setting up oneself, one's family, and ideally one's community (however defined) to best survive the almost certainly coming collapse. There are plenty of things that fit both. Learning to get by on a minimum of external inputs--meaning especially things imported from far away or sourced from faceless global chains as opposed to the mom-and-pop there's only one of, in your town--reduces your contribution to the problem and makes you more resilient. Arrangements with neighbors, or local groups like bike coops, farmers markets, CSAs help create the kind of locale that can survive some kind of collapse. So--while there's certainly truth in what you say--don't let it be an excuse to do nothing!



We’re already limiting our population growth somewhat. Our fertility rate is (and has been) dropping about 1% per year for decades. Us contributing to climate change is also a form of population control since the results are pollution, droughts, fires, smog, diseases, food shortages and intense storms. These will all knock us back (well deserved!). Throw in some new exciting viruses (imagine how much worse it can get than covid) and nature will balance back out just fine. But it will inevitably require loss of human life. I see no way around that. I cant even call it unfortunate, because we’ve been working so hard for so long to make this all happen!

I agree with you: work towards bettering you and your families chances of hanging around long term, focus on reducing waste and sustainability. Grow your own food. Be less dependent on money and outside influences. And dont be afraid to show it! We are all influential, even if only a little. Things build and grow. Domino effects are real and with social media, widespread changes in perspective can happen exponentially fast. This is one reason I’m turning our front yard into chicken pasture, food forest and gardens instead of the backyard. We live on a state highway and I want everyone driving by to see a young man building a future for his unborn children. And I want there to be nothing hidden about what that looks like. It looks like dirt, animals, trees and hard work. And hiding all that behind the house won’t influence anyone!
 
Yeah. What he said. Totally. Wait. What? Sorry, I was looking at this tiny ad:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/greenhouse
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