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Eco-Footprint | Elements Wk 1Eco-Footprint Exercise:Kelly KokaiselThere are two of us (and my puppy) that live in my 1,200 sq. ft. townhome in Hopkins, MN. My buildingalone consists of 8 units, although there are more than 300 in the complex. These townhomes werebuilt in the 80’s and I’m pretty sure do not contain any recycled or renewable materials, as built.Energy:In order to find out how much of my electricity I had to go to my provider’s (Xcel Energy) website. Aftersome digging, I found that only about 7% of the electricity is generated through renewable resources. Iwas surprised to find that for $25/mo I could subscribe to a product they call ‘100% Windsource’,although there was no mention of how much of my electricity would then come from renewablesources; I am sure it is not 100%.I do use some energy saving features such as a whole kitchen full of brand new energy efficientappliances (I sold my old working appliances on Craig’s List to a guy who wanted them for his rentalunits). My computer, ceiling fans, thermostat, televisions, and water heater are all energy star as well. Ieven found out on the Energy Star website that I can get a rebate back for these appliances andelectronics that I purchased last year! I turn off lights and computers when done with them and hangdry most of my clothes (mostly because I don’t like my pants and shirts to shrink in the length; this quirkturned out to be energy efficient, cool.) My thermostat automatically turns my heat down when we’renot here or are sleeping, and since I have all but an 10x6’ plot of grass I mow my ‘lawn’ and do yardwork by hand.I drive roughly 15,000 miles per year, and accounted for about 1,550 air miles for my annualsnowboarding trip to Vail, CO. My carbon footprint seems relatively good, but can be improved. I havenever bought carbon offsets…I would like to find a more economic way through reducing myconsumption first.My housing footprint seems to be pretty good, so I’m happy with that, but there were some thingsmentioned in the quiz that I never even thought about. It’s taken a bit or reminding to get me tounderstand that appliances use energy even when off just by being plugged into the socket. My desktopcomputer and 2 televisions are plugged into power strips as a shock safety measure, but I do not turnthe strip off ever. I will work on getting in the habit of doing that. My nightstand outlet also has anumber of things plugged into it; a lamp, my iphone charger, a clock radio, and an extra cord for mylaptop. I charge my phone at night and I do have the capability to charge my phone through my clockradio (iHome) but I usually don’t because it makes a loud buzzing sound every now and then and I’dhave to turn it to airplane mode at night to avoid this, meaning I could not receive emergency calls atnight…not that I receive that many, but the idea of having my phone off at night is not one that I’mterribly comfortable with. It’s just a silly hang-up in retrospect. In any case, I could eliminate thecharger that way, and use the second outlet to plug in a power strip for my other plugs. Another thing
Eco-Footprint | Elements Wk 1to add to my ‘Daily To-Do’s List’; Brush twice and floss once, walk the dog, yoga, and turn off the powerstrips. Food:I consider myself to be an omnivore. I have reduced my consumption of beef after learning that it takes5 times more water to produce beef than chicken, but I do still eat beef occasionally. This is reflected inmy pastureland footprint being the 2nd largest category. Chicken is pretty much a staple, as well asbacon in the mornings (when I have time), and otherwise I eat a few types of fish too (salmon, tilapia,walleye…although I heard to avoid tilapia because it is asian farmed, and therefore bad(?) orsomething…). However, I do eat lots of veggies and fruits, rice, tofu, and other grains and legumes asthe major element of many meals. I always shop for my food at the local co-op, farmer’s markets in thesummer, and choose organic and natural foods whenever possible. I normally eat 2 large meals a day,and a couple snacks. This spring and summer I will have my first veggie garden (400 sq. ft.) and amreally excited about growing my own food.Waste:I have only a few secondhand, recycled, or sustainable furniture pieces in my home. When I bought myhouse 4 years ago I gradually replaced most of my things to fit my new space. Although, I can say thatthe few pieces left that I do need I plan on making or upcycling. I rarely buy organic or natural clothing,but always try to buy recycled or natural paper products and pantry items. We recycle almost all ourpaper, aluminum, glass, and plastic, and I never throw electronics in the garbage (although it is hard toget rid of those items, I have to say), and on average we only use 1 standard garbage can or less perweek. I am not sure what constitutes my large forestland footprint, but I am guessing it’s that I buy newfurniture and replace some things before they need to be. Might it also constitute deforestation used tomeet my dietary habits?Water:We compost in the warm months (we have no real yard space so it has to be done on the patio), have asmall rainwater collector (not rooftop catchment) that’s used to water some plants, and we wash fullloads of dishes and clothes (although washing by hand would be more energy efficient). I don’t washmy car that often (just when the headlights are so dirty that I can’t tell they’re on), and fix leaks. I alsouse biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products and phosphorus-free hair care products.All in all, I am fairly happy with my results, but it is not good enough; 3 and a half earths is notsustainable. This quiz has given me some good insights on how I can improve my footprint, and I willfocus on my carbon and forestland footprint reduction.