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Backpacker Magazine – September 2007

Cut Your Carbon in Half

A hiker's guide to fighting climate change

by: Berne Broudy

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6


Now the good news: You can make a difference. Experts say there are hundreds of simple yet meaningful ways to reduce your CO2 output at home, in the office, in the car, and even on the trail. Start here—with our guide to 101 easy, effective, and often cost-saving solutions.

Key:
# equals pounds of CO2 saved per year.
$$$$ = Save
$ = Spend

How We Calculated CO2 Savings: For every solution we suggest, we wanted to provide authoritative estimates of their carbon savings. That meant finding a peer-reviewed methodology with strong third-party endorsements.

After exploring various options, we partnered with Cooler, a Bay Area firm that takes a hybrid approach to calculating CO2 savings. Its experts start with an input/output analysis of the impact of each economic sector related to the good or service in question. Then they conduct a process analysis, examining everything from the product's raw materials to how it is made, packaged, and transported. Finally, they combine those results to distill an average per-capita carbon number.

What's that mean in plain English? Say you wanted the carbon footprint of toilet paper. Cooler knows the total emissions of the U.S. economy and its major sectors. So it begins with a top-down question—What's the size the toilet paper industry relative to the entire economy? An algorithm spits out a number that represents TP's proportion of total carbon. Then Cooler takes a bottom-up look at the actual cost to make and distribute a single roll. The approach is comprehensive; it even factors in flights that TP executives take to market their product.

Cooler's calculator may be the most sophisticated tool around, but company founder Michel Gelobter cautions that this is an evolving science. "There are many variables that can affect the exact cost of any action or product," he says. "Until we can footprint every item from the ground up our calculations are estimates—precise estimates but still estimates." The numbers in this story, all provided by Cooler, will be refined over time. That's especially true for the hiking entries, which were calculated here for the first time anywhere.

Cooler itself is an innovative new business that makes smart shopping part of the solution. Launching this summer, its online mall (climatecooler.com) and affinity credit card will automatically offset your purchases at no extra charge. When you buy a pack, for example, Cooler will calculate its footprint and take a cut of the merchant or bank's share of the purchase price. (So a $149 pack still costs you $149, even after offsetting.) The cut is based on the investment in renewable energy required to neutralize the pack's impact (plus a small fee for Cooler). The company's clean-energy purchases are directed by a coalition of green groups—Environmental Defense, National Wildlife Federation, and Natural Resources Defense Council—and Cooler is working with the Gold Standard, the world's leading offset monitor, to identify credible investments in the United States.


PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6

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READERS COMMENTS

Cate
Aug 21, 2008

Products made in the USA are usually more expensive, due to higher minimum wages and operating costs. And while finding products made in the US is tough, it can be done. Check out the American Craft Movement for gifts and art, and think twice about how much you really need something if you can't find a low-impact alternative. Part of going green is becoming a little less materialistic, I think.

hippydog
Jun 30, 2008

is there any good info about what fuel or stoves are greener? If I need a new stove and want to be green whats the better option?

Orion
Jun 02, 2008

I agree it's something we should pay attention to, but honestly it would be better, since people are ignorant, if companys would just go green and continue to push the limits of ensuring they stay green without the peoples say or input it would be nice.

achmed mucmut the alllllll zhir
May 06, 2008

yes i also agree me brother this is very interesting and more people should pay attention to this

oij
May 06, 2008

khbluhknlyuhnk

achmed mucmut the alllllll zhir
May 06, 2008

yes i also agree me brother this is very interesting and more people should pay attention to this

achmed mucmut the alllllll zhir
May 06, 2008

yes i also agree me brother this is very interesting and more people should pay attention to this

achmed mucmut the alllllll zhir
May 06, 2008

yes i also agree me brother this is very interesting and more people should pay attention to this

achmed mucmut the alllllll zhir
May 06, 2008

yes i also agree me brother this is very interesting and more people should pay attention to this

al zahir Mahmood Al Shareef
May 06, 2008

I agree

al zahir Mahmood Al Shareef
May 06, 2008

I agree

al zahir Mahmood Al Shareef
May 06, 2008

I agree

al zahir Mahmood Al Shareef
May 06, 2008

I agree

muchmud da al sheereff mohammid
May 06, 2008

yes this is very true

Shelly
Apr 27, 2008

I agree with you Zachary. Lately I have been trying to avoid products made in China for several reasons...(safety, their emissions during production, etc.)...and I have found that it is very difficult to find products not made in China. Even harder to find stuff made in the USA. Some of my favorite companies (north face, merrell, etc.) make most of their products in China. Why can't we manufacture these things here?

Zachary
Apr 26, 2008

I have a hard time with companies that clam to be low impact. Most of today’s products are manufactured in China witch is the largest producer of CO2 emissions in the world. Then you take the shipping on boats that run off diesel gas to get the product over here to the US. Then it has to be shipped. So, if a company claims to be green, in most cases that company is harming the environment more by not manufacturing it products locally or with in the country in witch they are based. So please think about all the carbon emitted to get your "Green" product form China to you shopping store, and maybe it won’t be so "Green" Thank you

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