I Have a Carbon Footprint Too

In observing the Earth Day celebration this year, I decided that it’s time that I take a personal stake in the global movement to reducing the human activity’s impact on the health of the planet.  Before you judge me and ask why I didn’t start sooner, I just want to say that I have take some measures already.  Consider this a pledge to do more.

To reduce your impact on the environment, you need to acknowledge the problem and your contribution to it.  It is like an alcoholic trying to quit drinking by joining AA and dealing with the drinking problem head on.  It is the first step in the right direction.  In my case, the first step was to calculate my carbon foot print (actually it take into account the entire family) which I did thru the EarthLab website.  It was quite sobering to see my ECP score and carbon output.  Although it’s slightly better than the average in California, a relatively green state, I know I can do more.

We (you and I) can all help make this world a better place, by taking steps to reducing our carbon footprint.  Along the way, you may end up saving some money and feeling better about yourself as well.  My wife and I decided at the beginning of 2009 to replace the old windows in our house, with new energy efficient triple-pane windows.  Such project save energy and increase the comfort during the Summer and Winter months.  By chance, the government is also offering tax incentives for “green” home improvement projects.  So, I’m not only helping out with the environment, but getting a tax break too.

It’s doesn’t take a large capital investment project to make an impact.  In fact, it doesn’t always make sense to replace the “old” with the “new”, especially when you consider the environmental impact of manufacturing the “new”, and disposing or recycling the “old”.  There’s no single algorithm for deciding how best to contribute, but do exercise your own judgment and ask yourself “how  will my decision or action impact the environment?”  Of course, there are plenty of resources and online communities where you might find the answers to some of the more common questions.  Below are a just a few:

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My April Fools Day

Yesterday, I experienced April Fools Day in all its glory.  Like the day before, I was taking CalTrain to San Francisco to attend the Web 2.0 Expo.  It was only the 2nd day of the conference, but I felt I was starting to develop a commuter’s routine.  Unlike the day before, I decided to park at the nearby free parking lot which required an extra 3 minutes walk to the Sunnyvale CalTrain station.  Unfortunately, I didn’t pad my travel time.  By the time I arrived at the train station, the 7:13am express train had arrived.  I tried to rush thru the ticket purchase process, hoping still to jump on that train.  As I completed the electronic ticket purchasing process, The train doors had closed.

So I missed the 7:13am train, but luckily the next train arrived at 7:18am.  I jumped aboard thinking I will still arrive in San Francisco by 8:20am in time for the first conference session that starts at 8:30am.  As the train pulled away, I inspected my ticket and realized that I haven’t purchased enough fare.  The CalTrain fares are based on zones.  To travel from Sunnyvale to San Francisco and back, I needed to purchase a round trip ticket from Zone 3 to Zone 1.  In my rush to make the 7:13am train, I had purchased a round trip ticket from Zone 3 to Zone 3; not so smart without my morning Starbucks.

I decided to jump off the train at the Mountain View station to purchase additional ticket fare, since you cannot purchase tickets onboard (VOC to CalTrain:  How about placing a ticket machine aboard the train for people who forget to buy the ticket at the station)  Of course the ticket machine wasn’t nearby, so I needed to run to the machine and rush thru the ticket purchase process again.  This time, I managed to purchase the correct ticket fare.  Except as I turn around, the doors on the train had closed.

By now, I was starting to realize that this was no ordinary day and that somebody (perhaps myself) was pulling an April Fools joke on me.  The next train (at 7:37am) a local commuter train would take me to San Francisco by 8:48am, so I opted to wait for the 7:57am express train that eventually got me to San Francisco by 8:42am.  For 1/2 hour, I waited at the Mountain View station, enjoying the fresh morning air and the free WiFi courtesy of Google.  It also provided me with the time to pause and reflect on the experience.

So why didn’t I give myself more time yesterday?  This morning, I was determined to not repeat yesterday’s mistakes so I left the house 5 minutes earlier.  By the time I arrived at the station and purchased my ticket, there was still 1 minute to spare.  Through iteration, I think I have finally perfected my commuter’s routine.  Unfortunately, the Web 2.0 Expo ends tomorrow.  As I wrap up on this blog entry (aboard the CalTrain ride this morning), I believe there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from sharing this experience.  Of course, I hope you enjoyed my April Fool’s Day story as well.