A Material Girl Goes Green

What is a Carbon Footprint?

Episode Summary

What is my carbon footprint? I think I know...but do I? Listen in and find out the particulars!

Episode Transcription

Lesley (00:07):

Hello friends. I'm Leslie and I'm Jody. Welcome to a material girl goes green podcast. I'm the material girl and founder of farm finds candles, the first sustainable candle company. And I'm stepping both feet into the world of living an ecofriendly and slower, more simple life. This podcast will take you along for the journey. And I'm the expert as the sustainability coordinator for the Allen County department of environmental management. I'm answering all Leslie's questions and helping her along the journey to living a more waste responsible life. Good morning. Well, good afternoon actually. It is not good morning. Good afternoon Jody. How are you doing? Great. How about you? Good. I'm doing really good. I'm doing really good. So we've started to dial in. Last episode we started to dial in a little bit more specific on some specific issues rather than being more broad. So we talked last week about single use plastics. Um something that I keep seeing out there and really don't particularly understand it that much is carbon footprint. So I kind of think I have somewhat of an idea what they're talking about. But I'm not 100% sure I know exactly what that means. So can you enlighten us on what carbon footprint means?

Jodi (01:38):

Sure. it's a pretty broad term. We refer to the environmental footprint too. And that's is that similar? Very similar. Yeah. they really both just refer to the total amount of energy you're consuming. But the carbon footprint specifically refers to greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. So those are carbon dioxide and methane. Okay. Yeah. So things like burning fossil fuels. So driving, flying a lot of your transportation energy that's produced by like coal burning power plants, which would be manufac is that energy, that's all the energy you guys in your home or anywhere else yet.

Lesley (02:30):

And then my specific area of knowledge is greenhouse gases that are emitted from landfills. So that's something that a lot of people don't think about, but it's the third biggest source. Wow. Yeah. And it greenhouse gases from landfills or in the form of methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas, actually. Then carbon dioxide. And it's produced when you put organic materials into the landfill. So anything that is a carbon based. So yeah, the banana feels that I don't compost goes in, they create methane gas, they do clothing, paper. Anything that was a plant or an animal at one time produces methane out of, out of the landfill. The good news locally here, we harvest our methane and it is used for power. So I'm, the GM plant is powered by methane from our landfill. Wow. but we're not able to capture it all.

Jodi (03:33):

We're still producing too much by throwing away too many organic materials. So yard waste, wood, furniture, anything. Oh my gosh, I had no idea. I had no idea. It's a big source. It's something. Yeah, it's a big source that we don't often think about. Wow. So those are something that you talked earlier when we were talking about, you know, the fast fashion and slow fashion, some of that stuff about some of that, the resources that that comes from like, and thinking full cycle. So in the manufacturing of it and in the energy that it takes to make it and those types of things. So really this is part of the, the full cycle of our stuff, right? Oh yup. I know it covers all the bases too cause it's transported shit all around. And then, and then on the disposal and to it's producing greenhouse gases the, the whole time.

Lesley (04:33):

Wow. So, so composting is going to have to be a thing in my life pretty soon. I've always, I have, I have a ton of plants, so I've always used different sources, like different organic stuff. Around them. I just plan it like I'll just be like very banana peels all year round around my roses and around some of my plants. I've done that, but I haven't really started other than that to do composting. So I can see that in my very near future that that's got to be a thing. Yeah. It's something easy you can do. That does make a big difference. So those are the main sources. Is there, so this is going to sound super stupid. Is there anything other than composting that is helpful with the organic stuff that we throw in the trash? Is there anything that we can do that's better than other, other practices?

Jodi (05:33):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean it always comes down to, I'm trying to think of, you know, ways that you can not buy new things. So you're not contributing to the manufacturing, shipping side of things there. And then reduce, you know, the amount of things you're using and throwing away. So recycling is something, number one thing, there's an use there, but it's a net energy savings when you recycle because that material is not going in the landfill. It's being made into something new and given a new life. So yeah, just reduce, reuse, recycle, compost. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So how do higher levels of carbon then affect the environment in the atmosphere? What does that look like? What does that methane gas or the other carbon, what does it doing? [inaudible] Chemically, I'm not the person to explain that process. I know that those are the contributors to global climate change.

Lesley (06:37):

And so that, you know, it takes the form, not necessarily of just warming all the, that is the general trend, but just these big weather events that we're seeing cause it's going somewhere. More extremes. Yeah. It changes our environment. It changes the heating and cooling process of the entire earth and that changes the weather patterns and that changes you know, flooding and storms and all these extreme events are, are occurring more and more frequently. And plants and animals are not able to adapt. Our social structures and our infrastructure that we've set up are not set up for these extreme events or such changes. So there's a big economic impact on our society too. Yeah. Well and more people, more waste, more carbon more. I mean, all of that, what might have been, what might have not been causing some of these environmental is large environmental issues years ago cause the population was so much different.

Jodi (07:40):

Now there's so much, it has to be going somewhere. Right? Right. We, we consume so much more. So how do, is there a way to measure it? Is there a way to measure it? Yeah, there are. There are a couple of good websites that I would recommend where you can measure your personal carbon footprint or if you own a business you can measure that. Awesome. Good. You just put in all the inputs, it comes down to how much energy you use and the activities that you participate in basically. So there's aGood1@thenatureconservancy.com or.org rather. And there are a couple more and we can put those in the Instagram. We'll make sure that you guys have access to those, to those calculators. Just just to give you an idea of what does your personal, cause that's what I hear a lot of like what is your personal carbon footprint, what does that look like and what contributes to that?

Lesley (08:41):

Yeah. And it's a great place to start to, just like we've talked before about taking an inventory of your waste stream or your personal waste that you're producing. So for sure. If you have a measure of where you can start, you can figure out how to improving, right? Absolutely. so how do we go about lowering that for each of us? What does that look like from a, how do I, when I go home tonight? Like what are some of the things that I can think of to try to, other than composting, I've come up with that. So that's on my checklist. And honestly that probably won't be real big until summer because it's awfully cold out there right now. But I, that has gotta be one of my, one of my summer projects. So how do we go about it?

Jodi (09:25):

How do we go about lowering it? Right? So the main points to take a look at are your travel, your home energy use the things you purchase and consume. Your diet is a big one, and then your disposal habits. So reducing your driving, reducing your traveling, carpooling riding your bike and walking and doing all those things. Things like hanging up your clothes and instead of putting them in the dryer, things like only running a full load in the dishwasher or in the the clothes, if I was washing every call that they knew what you meant, I knew what you meant. The washing machine. Yeah. The lashing machine. So weatherproof your home so you're not losing energy there to heat and cool it. Byproducts that use less energy. So less packaging or things that are made closer to home.

Lesley (10:28):

Yeah. By local, both in clothing food and the other stuff you use, the closer it is, the less transportation energy it's using. Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. And things that required less disposal. So the less trash you produce to if you eat a little lower on the food chain, maybe eat more plants and eat closer to home. That really, really helps to reduce your energy use and reduce your carbon footprint. And if you're gonna eat meat try to find a local farm that is sustainable and puts, you know, puts their inputs back into the land and the animals. I saw a graphic not too long ago that, that kind of compared the amount of water needed for a hamburger and compared to, I have to look it up, I'll find it, not post it out there because it was crazy.

Jodi (11:26):

Like it was, I'm going to be to get this complete, it was like tens of thousands of gallons of water to produce this hamburger. It was crazy. I have to look it up because I was shocked by the amount of resources that it took for that cause I'm a state girl, right? Yeah, I am. I am that person. The good news is that there are local farmers doing it. Right, right, right. And if you support those farmers, then you're supporting good practices. A lot of those things that you read and see are referring to like huge scale commercial farms that are just not sustainable. They're totally polluting. They're totally bad for the environment. And for everyone. So shop local is a big part of this. It really is. That's awesome. Which is just, it's just good anyway. Right? That's just a good practice for so many reasons.

Lesley (12:21):

And this is one of those reasons. Yeah. And we have so many more opportunities now and growing all the time for awesome stuff that's produced locally. Right? Right. And I would say every community does, right? Everybody listening to every community. Absolutely. If they go out and do some research on what does their community offer, those opportunities are coming up because there's so, there's so many more people being cognizant of that. I think so. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Now, one thing that I have seen is renewable energy. What does that mean? Like what is renewable energy? So renewable energy is collected from renewable resources and those are resources that are naturally replenished. The important thing to remember about that too is on a human time scale. So if you think about petroleum, it is made from plants and animals that are decaying, but they're hundreds of thousands of years old.

Jodi (13:20):

It's not on a human time scale that we could ever see that replenished again. So wind, rain, tides, sun, geothermal even trees, you know, if they're sustainably harvested that's a renewable resource. Obviously we don't want to go out into the Virgin forest and harvest habitat for animals, but you can use things like bamboo or hemp and things like that that are very renewable resources to create the things that we need. Is it kind of sustainable, like is renewable and sustainable similar or are they cousins of each other? Absolutely. Yeah, very much so. Yes. Okay. Okay. So that's a good way for me to, trying to tie the words together is helpful for me and I [inaudible] the sustainable part. I feel like I have a much better understanding of. And the renewable sounds like it's, it's similar in, in how to think it through very much so.

Speaker 1 (14:22):

And it's also things like sunlight and wind, you know, they're, they're not going anywhere. Right. We can't use those up, so, right. So all of the ways of capturing those, then being able to renew them. Awesome. Good. Well that pretty much sums up that particular question and I appreciate, I appreciate that. Do you think that the carbon footprint model or measurement, is that, is that a fair or good way of kind of looking the overall, so from my everything, it just feels like everything kind of feeds on its each other. Like they affect each other in ways. Like to me getting into this lifestyle was recycle, like all of these very straightforward simple things and I'm finding pretty quickly that no, that waste cycle is much bigger than I understood it to be. Is a carbon footprint a fair way of measuring a person's overall footprint?

Lesley (15:23):

I think it's a big component. I again would go back to the term environmental footprint because there are some other factors to consider. The carbon footprint really refers to narrow is so narrow. Gotcha. Yeah. It's a smaller portion, but you're right, it is all a part of this same big picture, right? Which is just how much we're over consuming natural resources and overproducing waste that we have no way of handling. So it is all part of that same big cycle. All the stuff. So much stuff. All right. Perfect. Well, thank you so much for your wisdom today. We appreciate you. And to all our listeners, we sure appreciate you as well. We, if you have anyone in your life that is new to the ecofriendly lifestyle, if you've been talking to them and they're considering moving into that, into that way of life, send them our way. We try to kind of follow alongside and answer questions that they might, that they might have along the way. So we'll see you next time. What will we'll you can hear us next time. Bye. Bye. Bye. We hope you enjoyed this episode. If there's anyone in your life who's on their way to a low waste lifestyle, send them over. We would love to have them along for the journey. We sure would appreciate your review star rating and don't forget to subscribe. Also look us up on Instagram at a material girl goes green where we have tips, inspirations, reminders of why we live this lifestyle videos and additional materials for each podcast episode.