Calculating Your Carbon Footprint

It looked like a tedious sales meeting, but the people CBS News correspondent Daniel Sieberg met were about to change the world - or at least their little corner of it.

It is a CRAG: a Carbon Reduction Action Group. It's like the Weight Watchers for the energy conscious.

"It's just like any club," said Shannon Moore, the CRAG's founder. "There's … the peer-support side of it. And there can be, depending on the group, the peer pressure side of it, where people are saying, 'hey, look at your footprint!' Look at my footprint."

"Footprint" means how much carbon dioxide you personally release into the atmosphere through daily life. It's about 26,000 lbs. a year for the average American.

Moore's group aims to be 10 percent below that by year's end.

"All you have to do is pull your bills, and plug some numbers into the calculator - boop, and it'll tell you what your emissions are," Moore said. "Yeah, it's simple."

And there's a bonus.

You're also reducing the amount of money that you spend on your energy bills, and so it's a win-win.

Erin Kline is a soccer mom and on the PTA.

She and other members of the group are on track to save $300 each on their annual energy bills.

Some changes are obvious - like adjusting the thermostat and switching to compact fluorescents and going easy on wash day.

"I always wash with cold water," Kline said.

Check out the rest of the series, Energy Savers:
How Can Big Business Teach Us About Cutting Emissions?
Getting Paid To Drive Green
But Kline also composts her trash, makes her own baking soda cleaners and, when she volunteers at school, the car stays parked.

It's the group, she says, that helps her "walk the walk."

"There's that accountability factor that, oh, someone else is gonna see how much I use, so that sort of spurs you to stay on track and to stay focused on it," Kline says.

It is easy to calculate your carbon footprint, at any number of Web sites, such as Carbonfund.org.

From the Blogs:
Learn more about how to offset your carbon emissions at Couric & Co. blog.
Find out how Daniel Sieberg reported this story over at Tech Talk.
First, enter your annual Kilowatt hours and natural gas or oil usage. They're usually right on your utility bills.

Then, include your yearly odometer reading along with your average miles per gallon.

Lastly, enter the approximate number of miles flown.

The calculator will instantly give you an idea how much carbon you're personally responsible for.

Kline's household is now well below the national average. And, by getting the whole family involved, she believes the seeds of conservation are taking root with the next generation.

"They're the motivating factor, saying 'Mom why aren't you doing this?' because they realize they're going to have to clean up the mess," Kline said.
  • Daniel Sieberg

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter