The dictionary defines Carbon Footprint (CFP) |as a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by a single endeavor or through day-to-day activities over a given period.
By Maria Ross-Warren
I define Carbon Footprint – well, I am actually currently attempting to define the term in an applicable way as it relates to me and mine. I find it popping up in different conversation circles and articles seemingly begging for my attention and action. I have been trying to figure what I do each day that is increasing my CFP and if there is really anything I can do in my daily life besides separating my plastic and paper on trash days (truth is I do this more so I don’t get a sanitation ticket, not because I believe I’m making a better tomorrow). I want to understand how I can really make a difference. What do I do everyday that makes my CFP as obnoxious and possibly as life altering as walking across moms white carpet with dirty wet shoes? I know what I do. I drive. As a working mother of two middle school aged children I rack up an obscene mileage each year. My car runs on gas. Gas makes the air dirty. My car is the mud on mom’s white carpet. No Bueno.
I have been driving, dare I say, about twenty years. Over these two decades of navigating the urban jungle via motor car I have always made my vehicle purchases based on personal want, trend and the priceless “damn look at her ride” face you hope to get as you drive on by.
This sound depth of consumer prowess has seen me behind the wheel of a “sporty black coupe”. You know, the car every other girl in the late ‘90’s begged their daddy to get them for graduation and if he really loved you he’d get you custom rims or a neon undercarriage. Onto the early years of the millennium and more importantly “how big can my SUV get” – you know, in case the Yankees team bus broke down in front of my house and the starters needed to get to the stadium. Then onto the, “I have (not really, but my college friends and office-mates think so) arrived” German Import (even though I have lingering student loans and an Adjustable Rate Mortgage on an overvalued home) I got the aforementioned “Damn look at her ride” lots of times with this car. Too bad those looks couldn’t put food on the table!
Those were the days. Now I am a parent who worries about things I never knew I’d be capable of even noticing. The creepy guy next door who talks to the stray cats and pigeons, the deli guy who wipes his forehead before slicing my order – but hey he’s wearing a glove when he’s doing it so it should be ok, right? The newly licensed neighbors’ kid with the urge to go from zero to sixty before he hits the middle of my block. However my biggest fear is the future well being of my children.
Every parent knows what I am talking about. I don’t fear that in the future my kids will become cat hoarding pigeon whisperers who serve or eat questionable deli meats while driving too fast on residential streets. I worry that they will not have a planet that will even allow them to make these unsavory choices.
According to the U.S. EPA “Driving a private car is probably a typical citizen’s most ‘polluting’ daily activity.” Based on this information, I decided to make a change in my daily activity and thus, my carbon footprint. The idea of not driving right now is unthinkable. My family can’t all fit on a bike and public transportation is not a viable option for me. I have found my personal solution in hybrid vehicles. Now, making a car purchase based on more ecologically friendly criteria than I used to, I had to do quite a bit of research.
Here are some of my top picks for hybrid/ electric vehicles: