Climate change has been a topic of discussion in the news, politics, and our communities for a while now. A few years ago, I started taking notice of how my actions were affecting the environment. I spent some time observing others who had better practices of reducing waste such as carrying a reusable water bottle and composting; I started copying them. Now, I never leave the house without my sticker-covered 32oz Nalgene and my Stanley travel coffee mug. Installing LED lights in my house was a no-brainer. I even helped my parents install LEDs, turn down their hot water heater temperature, and replace the single pane windows in their house, convincing them that it could save $100s on heating in the cold New Jersey winters. I thought of more ways to improve my habits–refusing plastic utensils when getting take-out, learning how to properly decide between what goes in compost / recycle / trash bins, going near-paperless by using apps to take notes rather than a notebook and avoiding printing when possible; purchasing some Stasher bags which have replaced plastic wrap or Ziploc bags in my house; keeping canvas shopping bags in my car and near the front door to use for grocery shopping, among other things.
I felt good about it, yet I needed to do more. One of my favorite athletes and role models is Jeremy Jones, a pro-snowboarder and climate activist who has made a career out of human-powered ascents and descents of the biggest alpine peaks in the world. About 10 years ago, Jeremy created an organization called Protect Our Winters (POW). POW is a non-profit organization that works to spread awareness around climate change and its effect on the environment. It seeks to rally a large group of outdoor enthusiasts to become climate activists to help reduce carbon emissions and protect public lands. This spoke to me as an avid snowboarder, backpacker, climber, and all-around nature lover. In the last few years, I’ve noticed a change in climate with a less reliable snowpack, the water supply for 40M Californians, and an increase in disasters like wildfires. I enjoy traveling but was afraid that by doing so, I was hurting the very thing I wanted to protect. I knew I needed to reduce my carbon footprint, or at least, offset it. So, for my 2020 New Year’s Resolution, I decided that I would offset the carbon emissions of every trip I take this year and share my actions on Instagram.
Luckily, POW has a handy tool called the Cost of Carbon calculator. This tool allows you to convert your travel into tons of CO2 and offers options to purchase carbon offset credits. The carbon offsets include renewable energy credits (REC), forest management projects, clean energy and energy efficiency projects, landfill gas capture projects, and waste management projects throughout the US and Canada. A cross-country round-trip flight plus a few hundred miles of driving costs about $8-10 to offset depending on the project. POW isn’t the only way to offset carbon emissions. This link to a NY Times article from the Climate Fwd Newsletter, details some other options.
I’m encouraging (challenging!) anyone, including the great people of Mazzetti, to join me in offsetting the last trip they took.
My next step in battling climate change is to join in more volunteer efforts and become more active in my community by supporting organizations like POW and Surfrider Foundation, focused on protecting the coastlines, beaches, and oceans. If you are interested in getting involved, check out these organizations as well as the many projects at Patagonia Action Works.
If you want to chat about your sustainable habits or how you could get more involved, please reach out!
Happy Earth Day!Week!Month!Year!
Aaron Schiess, PE
Associate, Senior Mechanical Engineer
Technology BIM Specialist
Angela Howell, BSN, RN
Medical Equipment Planner
Angelica Chow, PE, LEED AP BD+C
Anjali Wale, PE, LEED AP
Senior Electrical Engineer
Arturo S Salud
Associate, Senior Electrical Designer
Austin Barolin, PE, CEM, LEED AP O&M
Senior Associate, Senior Energy Analyst
Bethany Beers, CCP, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Associate, Energy & Commissioning Consultant