Confessions from a green blogger with a big carbon footprint

—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, Glass Magazine

I don’t make a habit of hugging trees, but I do consider myself an environmentally conscious, green person. I don’t have a car, I live in an apartment with Energy Star windows, I recycle and eat organic, I’m a vegetarian, I use those swirly energy-saving light bulbs. Yet, my estimated carbon footprint still sits about four times higher than the world average.

My greenhouse gas emissions average 20 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the Nature Conservancy’s carbon footprint calculator. The U.S. average per person is 27 tons, and the world average is 5.5 tons. Have you calculated your footprint yet? The results might also surprise you.

According to the calculator, about 68 percent of my emissions—or 14 tons of CO2 annually—comes from the driving and flying category, which in my case is almost entirely flying.

I found this number unbelievable, so I went to TerraPass to use their flight emissions calculator. Unfortunately, the Nature Conservancy’s estimate was right on track.

In 2007, the 4,483 mile, round trip flight from New York to Las Vegas for BEC created 1,748 pounds of CO2 emissions. The 8,205 mile, round trip flight from New York to Tampere, Finland, for Glass Performance Days, created 3,142 pounds of CO2 emissions. I added my other industry trips and my own personal travel, and my emissions from flight travel alone actually topped the Nature Conservancy’s estimate of 14 tons. Scary.

I know there are many more folks who travel much more frequently. Since I don’t think the industry is ready to host trade shows and meetings via teleconference, I checked out the Nature Conservancy’s site for some other ways to reduce carbon emissions.

Home energy is the next largest target for emissions reductions. According to the Web site, reducing the use of heat and air conditioning, unplugging appliances when they’re not in use and cutting hot water consumption can drastically reduce carbon emissions. People can also purchase carbon credits to offset their footprint even more.

And finally, check out blogger and AutoGlass Editor Jenni Chase’s green tips from the AutoGlass conference here.


You may be the most environmentally friendly person I've run into least since Al Gore.