Carbon footprint is one of those catch phrases that has entrenched itself in our vernacular over the last few years, and yet it’s still something few of us can really get a grasp of. Major corporations have made great proclamations about use of carbon credits to shrink their overall carbon footprint, but how many are truly making a difference and how many are simply green-washing to boost their image?
While blowing the leaves off the lawn last fall, guilt (as is always the case) inspired me to consider my personal carbon footprint. Using my 5 horse power blower and accompanying 2 cycle backpack blower (both frowned upon by many of the associations I proudly support) does not employ best practices for fall cleanup, but surely is offset by my many other activities… right? Let’s explore!
Now, before the villagers burn me out and string me up, let me tell you the following; we have a large lawn, just under a full acre of grass, so raking is a major chore. I no longer blow the lawn free of every last bit of detritus, as I did long ago. I leave a fair amount of leaves on the lawn and mulch them in to feed the soil organisms, and the leaves that are removed are composted in a large compost area at the base of our yard. Finally, I use no fertilizers or chemicals on the lawn at all; it is treated solely with compost tea. Still, I am not able to assuage the guilt over my carbon footprint, and secretly pray that none of my contemporaries drive by and see me committing such a heinous violation.
To bolster my defense (and lessen my guilt), I offer up my business activity as evidence. My company, Blue Heron Landscape Design, practices sustainable design, uses only organic fertilizer and many yards of compost each year in the gardens we design and care for and use native plants whenever possible in those gardens. We organically treat lawns for a small group of clients each year using the afore mentioned compost tea, organic fertilizer, and other natural amendments. Surely this activity will tip the balance in my favor when it comes to neutralizing my carbon footprint, why it might even put me in the black with carbon credits to spare.
With the jury back in and a unanimous not guilty verdict, you would think I would be satisfied, wouldn’t you? Well not so quick Mr. Darrow! You see regardless of the fact that I appear in my non-scientific way to have offset my carbon footprint; there still lingers the emissions of my tools of choice in the air surrounding my living space. My clothes reek of oil and gas. And, had I not worn hearing protection, the mild Tinnitus I currently deal with from my younger days, would blossom into a full chorus of torture. Going forward, I think I’ll do more raking and mulching, and a lot less blowing.
So, my gentle, planet friendly readers, that leaves me with the following question; do carbon credits actually affect change or is it simply another slight of hand developed to allow an easier, more profitable lifestyle? Clearly the jury is still out!
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this, please share!