My cell phone battery died yesterday so I had to pick up a new one. As I completed the purchase, the salesman informed me that he had put the new battery in the phone and packed the old one away for me to take home. Take home? What the hell was I going to do with an old battery? For that matter, what the hell am I going to do with all of my old batteries including my laptop batteries still attached to my old laptops that occupy the corner of the crawlspace that has become a graveyard for my long-abandoned technologies. I hold onto the old laptops for fear that someone will retrieve them and find a way of accessing twelve year old banking information and long-since deleted pictures of me cutting a rug on my wedding day, while the actual batteries I hold onto because, apparently, we can’t just chuck them away. Doing so is bad for the environment and thus, rather than risk one more hummingbird developing eczema as a result of tainted groundwater, I’m doing my part by amassing a splendid lead, mercury, and cadmium shrine.
That’s what I’VE done. My conscience is clear. What the hell have YOU done? Yes, YOU! Forward-thinking musicians have jetted in from all over to stage a concert that will help raise awareness to the very real crisis facing our world brought on by ignorant individuals, money-hungry corporations, and oblivious forward-thinking musicians who have jetted in from all over to stage a concert that will leave a carbon footprint of at least 31 500 tonnes of carbon emissions according to John Buckley of Carbonfootprint.com.
To those of you who don’t know, a carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide you, your household, or organization produce to screw up our environment. Thanks a lot. There are plenty of websites that allow one to calculate their own carbon footprint, factoring in everything from travel mileage and electrical usage to junk food consumption and one’s propensity to suffer bloating and gas. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce one‘s harmful influences. Hang your wash instead of letting it tumble dry for one. Turning down your central heating for another. But aside from these general rules of thumb (ie. use less electricity), reducing YOUR carbon footprint is something personal. And so I strongly believe that everyone should takes steps to adopt a unique strategy personally suited to them.
I, for instance, have adopted a 10-pronged approach to reducing my carbon footprint:
1) According to a 2006 University of Oregon study, the average household dishwasher produces 162 lbs of CO2 a year. Well, I am proud to say that I’m ahead of the game here since I rarely eat in and thus rarely make use of my dishwasher (unlike, I’m sure, many of you thoughtless polluters). However, the big, industrial dishwashers restaurants use are even more problematic. Aware of this, I now make it a point to eschew all cutlery and dinnerware in favor of having the waiter spoon my meal right out of the various cooking pots and pans and directly into my mouth. Carbon savings: approximately 300 lbs.
2) Cars are one of the worst offenders when it comes to harmful emissions. According to the University of Oregon study, even the innocuous Subaru Outback produces almost 10 000 lbs of CO2 a year! To counter you shameful lot who drive your cars about willy-nilly on your joyrides to work, your child’s school, or to the hospital emergency ward when grandpa starts complaining about the chest pains, I’ve taken steps to reduce my automotive carbon footprint by not driving in to work anymore. Instead, I will write from home and receive updates (on my old rotary dial not cordless phone, thank you very much) from my office lieutenants to whom I have delegated authority. To circumvent the potentially harmful emissions produced by the various courier companies that would have to home-deliver me the episode dailies, cuts, and edits, I will have Carl or Martin watch them on their end while relaying me a detailed description. Once this new automotive strategy has been fully adopted, the only negative environmental effect of any significance will be the carbon emissions produced by whatever means the studio will use to deliver my paychecks. Alas, I can’t think of any way around this one. Carbon savings: I don’t drive anywhere close to the 12 500 annual average outlined in the report, but I do drive a Q7. So let’s say 8 000 lbs.
3) The average household’s laundry needs produce about 620 lbs of C02 annually according to the University of Oregon study, and over 80% of that comes from the clothes dryer alone. Air drying your clothes is one possible alternative but for someone like me who is always on the go, air drying is a luxury I don’t have time for. Instead, I wear my clothes out wet and allow them to dry out over the course of the day. Numerous variables like outside temperature, one’s activity level, and the layers of clothing sported will impact the overall R.O.D. (rate of drying). Showering in my clothes rather than making use of the washing machine has also proven an effective means to saving both time and energy. Carbon savings: Let’s say 450 lbs.
4) Like to watch t.v.? Shame on you! Shame! Shame! Shame! Unless it’s Stargate. The University of Oregon study says that your average year’s worth of t.v. viewing produces an average 103 lbs of CO2. Like to watch with the lights on? Even more shame! Add another 172 lbs of CO2 you illuminated energy squanderer! Watch with the lights off. Limit your viewing to very important programming only like your local emergency storm advisories, escaped convict bulletins, and Stargate. Or, do what I do and don’t watch t.v. at home. Nope. Instead, go to a friend’s house and watch THEIR t.v. thereby increasing their carbon footprint at no cost to your own. And remember to watch with the lights on. Watching t.v. in the dark is bad for your eyes. Carbon savings: 103 lbs. At least!
5) Like to listen to music on your stereo (47 lbs annual), drink coffee from your coffee maker (97 lbs annual), or use your fireplace on cold winter nights (1 080 lbs annually)? I don’t. Carbon savings: 1 224 lbs.
6) I have a friend back in Montreal, Nigel, who, as long as I’ve known him, has lived in an apartment without an oven. I used to think it was because he was a hopeless bachelor and incredibly inept cook who preferred to order in rather than hazard the gas range, but now I’ve come to realize he was way ahead of his time. According to the University of Oregon study, your average electric oven produces 538 lbs of CO2 a year. Enjoy that toast in the morning? Well maybe you can also enjoy the 30 lbs of CO2 you produce along with it! And there’s nothing like the convenience of being able to warm up your food in the microwave…so long as your stone conscience doesn’t feel the guilt of the 258 lbs of CO2 IT produces! And what’s that? You don’t enjoy sour milk and spoiled meat? Well okay fancy-pants. In that case, do you enjoy the almost 1 500 lbs of CO2 produced every year by the average 18 cu. Ft. self-defrosting refrigerator? Geez, get your priorities straight. Yes, I know. Not eating at home is easier said than done, but there are cost-efficient alternatives out there. Make an effort and be more sociable. Try dropping by the homes of friends or extended family right around dinner time. Mix it up. Heads over to Ted and Irene’s for lasagna night one Tuesday, then over to cousin Sheila’s for tuna casserole the next. If they start getting suspicious – make new friends! Also, organize potluck suppers and be the first to volunteer to bring your “famous salad” (which can be purchased from your local supermarket enroute). Alternate hosting duties and when your turn comes up in the rotation, offer up last-minute excuses to orchestrate a change in venue: your house is being fumigated, you’ve locked yourself out and the locksmith won’t be by until much later, your crazy diaper-wearing uncle is bivouacked in your living room. For my part, I make do without the oven, the toaster, and the microwave, but the refrigerator is a necessity on account of my enormous hot sauce collection. Carbon savings: 825 lbs.
7) An in-room air conditioner produces approximately 85 lbs of CO2 according to the University of Oregon study. Imagine how much is produced by a central air conditioning unit for an entire house? Or office? A lot, that’s how much! Well, in an effort to make sacrifices where it would have the most environmental impact (and, coincidentally, the least personal impact since I won’t be going into the office anymore. See 2), I’ve had management dismantle the central air conditioner at the production offices. A little heat never hurt anyone (unless you count heatstroke which I don’t). Also, the Vancouver winters aren’t that bad, so the offices will no longer be heated come November-ish. Employees will be encouraged to dress in layers and disdainfully reminded that they were complaining just the opposite last Summer. First you’re too hot and now you’re too cold! Which is it?! Carbon savings: A LOT!
8) When you go grocery shopping, the bag boy will invariably give you a choice: “Paper or plastic?” The correct answer is “Neither.“. Although paper is recyclable, many people either forget or don’t bother to recycle it and it just ends up in the trash, proving almost as problematic as plastic. Instead, choose to carry your individual purchases back to the car sans carrying receptacle. The more purchases, the more trips and, yes, the more exercise. Alternately, you can do what I’ve tried on several occasions and that’s to go plastic BUT forego the excessive double-bagging. I’ve found that the single bag approach is quite good insofar as it will get you almost half-way across the parking lot before coming apart and surrendering its contents. If you’re with friends or family, make a game of trying to chase down your various jars and canned food items as they roll down inclines, under cars, and into oncoming traffic. Carbon savings: Negligible. But it’s the thought that counts.
9) Showers apparently account for roughly 60% of water heating costs, so why not think about installing a low-flow shower head. Thanks to Vancouver city by-laws, my home has been outfitted with not only low-flow shower heads but low-flow toilets as well. Provided you don’t mind spending three times as long in the shower because the resulting water pressure is too feeble to allow you to rinse off effectively, or mind having to flush your toilet at least twice after use, then these low-flow options are a wonderful break-even alternative. Carbon savings: Absolutely none because of the extra time spent in the shower and the extra flushing. But again, it’s the thought that counts.
10) Eat more cows! They produce more methane than humans and are one of the greatest contributors to global warming. Do your part to rid the world of this scourge to our environment. I know I am. Carbon savings: Depends. How much can you eat?
Pics from the archive: Me in my gangsterly best, Ark of Truth, Ara and Rakai from Reunion, a couple of selections from the Quarantine design package.
Poundpuppy 29 writes: “I was wondering if you would list your Top 5 Jack episodes?”
Answer: I can’t. I love them all.
Steph writes: “Okay, on the chicken fat sandwhich, was that the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?”
Answer: That distinction goes to the durian ice cream I sampled at Mario’s Gelato.
Anonymous #1 writes: “ 1. Given that there are Australians on Atlantis (judging by the flags on uniforms) does that mean there is vegemite in the Pegasus Galaxy? 2. And is there any chance of seeing an Australian in a bigger role in the hopefully many seasons to come?”
Answers: 1) No doubt. 2) It’s possible.