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Carbon Footprint: Why Should I Calculate it?

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So, here's the thing. I am a self-declared "eco-advocate" (among other titles) and I like to believe that I live an eco-conscious life. Where I fail, I'm at least conscious of it and am prepared to do better. I grow my own produce as the seasons in Canada allow, I don't eat meat and I also don't eat fake meat. I read all product labels and make sure I understand ingredients before purchasing anything. I cook with my kids and eat family meals with them, even with my crazy work schedule. I teach people to be "greener" and how to try and avoid "greenwashing." "pinkwashing" and "healthwashing." I support products and companies and people and programs that make our world a better, safer place.

And, I care. I care a whole lot.

So then why have I never calculated my carbon footprint? I'm going to be as direct as I always am... I don't get it. My common sense -- and being a working mother of three propels -- me to a life filled with as much efficiency as possible (out of necessity!). I have not been able to figure out why I should spend my time calculating my carbon footprint when I can actually spend that same time lessening my carbon footprint on my own. Of course, my lack of interest has led me to believe that measuring my carbon footprint translates to measuring my harsh impact on our world. I also have noticed that once we are encouraged to calculate our footprint, then we are asked to offset it with dollars instead of actions.

I don't understand how, for example, my paying $40 to offset my airline flight is incentive to live healthier or lighter on the planet. Isn't that $40 then allowing us to pay to damage things or justify our less than desirable actions? Isn't it better for us to be aware of our impact and do as much good to offset our own actions? Like by planting a tree in our own yard. I am concerned that part of my hard-earned $40 now goes to a business operating to offset my carbon footprint. Oh, my head hurts and I must admit, I've turned off at this point. And I am aware that makes me a hypocrite, since I should be taking the time to understand this concept of calculating carbon footprints and offsetting, just like I tell people that they can't ignore the studies and reasons for eating organic, or less (or no) meat, right?

Despite all of my efforts, I'm aware my daily actions -- such as driving carpool in my minivan or taking a hot shower to unwind, being wired to electronic equipment for too many hours a day, or having three kids and breathing -- have an impact on our fragile world. And although I am proud of the many changes I have made and of my commitment to continually to do better, I have yet to see the value of calculating something over just trying to do better everyday. But, since I care and care to listen -- plus I know that being informed is really the key to change -- I hope someone (or many of you), can inspire me and explain in common sense terms the value of this process.