Carbon Footprint Average

I feel like I’ve been slackly on our carbon footprint goal. I met my initial goal of using three calculators, but then I stalled out. Mainly because the results were so wildly divergent that it was hard to know what to make of them.  I was careful about the accuracy of my figures and wrote down all our utility bill info, etc., which also made it easier to fill them all out.

Result 1 – EPA carbon calculator – 1/2 ton
Result 2 – Oregon DEQ carbon calculator  – 35 metric tons
Result 3 – Carbon Footprint Calculator – 9.7 metric tons
Result 4 –  Climate Crisis Calculator  estimated that our household emits .3 tons per person (1.2 household) 
Result 5 – The Nature Conservancy – 46 tons (average U.S. household of four emits 110 tons)
Result 6 – Bonneville Environmental Foundation calculated our house, transportation and flights to be 39,571 lbs (19.78 tons) – I would also note that they had probably the nicest calculator (pretty graphics, plus they gave you options between giving details and using averages)

Not surprisingly, it turns out that other environmental bloggers have come across the same inconsistencies. The Global Footprint Network’s calculator was the most fun and had the best graphics, but the results showed up in planet and global acres instead of tons of carbon. So I couldn’t average the result of needing 4.5 planets to sustain our family! 

Interestingly, Brighter Planet sells the service of calculating your footprint to companies with all sorts of goods and services. But I couldn’t compare my results from their page directly. On a side note, I would add that a couple of the calculators did seem most interested in selling you offsets.

Then a co-worker tech guy told me about how studies have shown that even random guesses (like how many jelly beans in a jar) turn out to be nearly accurate once they are averaged. So, it’s admittedly more arbitrary than scientific, but until I can be proven better…carbon experts: bring it on!…I’m going to track our progress from a baseline of 18.7 tons of CO2 annually.

Have you calculated your family’s carbon footprint?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

One thought on “Carbon Footprint Average

  1. Ms. Miel

    Whew! That is quite some research! Congrats. It is pretty incredible how different the results are. Certainly an area that seems like it needs significant streamlining.

    I’ve done mine a couple of times, though I can’t recall the results. It is a good thing I don’t have a car, but it doesn’t even begin to offset my international travel.

    Keep up the great work!



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