Personal air-quality activity profile

And now for something just a little different.

There is a tool called the carbon calculator. It is an instrument available to help people determine what their personal or household carbon footprints are. Truth be told, I have never used the device. I am not advocating that people don’t use this. However, for myself, I’ve never found the need.

As a sort of substitute, I have created what I call my personal air-quality activity profile. Basically, by assessing what actions I engage in related to energy consumption, from this, I can get a pretty good idea of how I am doing as a consumer in terms of conservation. It is a crude method of keeping track, but it works for me and this, for me, is what matters.

By activity, I have listed below a number of them acting as kind of a guide for me to know just what I am doing daily routine-wise to help the quality of the air, or what I am not doing that, if I did do, could make the quality of air better – all on a personal level, of course.

Bill paying: I mail all of my bills. I’ve done it this way as long as I’ve been paying bills. On occasion, I have paid bills in person. The moral of the story here is that if I paid my bills electronically, this would no doubt cut down on the need for driving, that is, for mail transport. So, this could be changed. At least one of my bills is forwarded to me electronically every month so, that is one I don’t receive by mail.

Recycling/composting: Much of the paper used to create articles that I write is done on paper already printed on where one side has print on it. Instead of putting these in the recycle bin, I keep these 8.5 in. x 11 in. pieces of paper and use the blank sides to do my article preparatory writing on. It saves me from having to sit at the computer keyboard creating ideas for article use. Once I am satisfied that I have put together an article that is nearly ready for publishing, I then go and transcribe text onto a word processing document and from this, after edits, I can post to the blog.

Not using the computer as much saves electricity and that cuts down on power consumption which, in turn, has a direct effect on air quality. The fact that I am reusing already-printed-on paper, means I’m not wasting additional paper sheets.

Once all text is entered and changed into a digital document if you will, the paper I used to create the articles in question on is placed into the recycle bin, the material destined for recycling instead of it being landfill-bound. By staying out of the landfill, there is less opportunity for methane creation and that helps air. Much, or should I say, most of the paper I discard ends up in the recycle bin, along with most discarded plastic and glass, this in addition to all metal items.

Meanwhile, except for lawn mowing for which I use a cordless electric mower, all yard grooming/maintenance work is done by hand. Most everything yard-waste-wise goes into the green-waste container (tree trunk-stumps excepted), the contents of which will be transported to a site and ultimately turned into compost.

Air conditioning/home heating/water heating/clothes drying: The home’s biggest consumers of electricity typically are the air conditioner, home heater, water heater, clothes dryer, stove/oven combo and refrigerator. Heaters and air conditioners in my house are operated during daytime only when needed. Only very rarely is the home heating system ever on at night. I keep warm wearing several layers of clothing and using multiple blankets for sleeping, once again as a way to scale back energy use. Dual purpose air conditioning/heating filters are changed periodically, usually twice per year.

Hot water heater

During warmer weather periods, all washed clothes are dryer tumbled for but a few minutes only and then removed and hung on clothes racks around the house and get dried via the ambient air inside. The refrigerator, of course, runs day and night. It is the only appliance I own to my knowledge that does this. All other appliances I own are used conservatively, that is only when needed. The television, another relatively high-energy consuming device, on weekdays is seldom used. I much prefer to read or write during this time or if the weather is favorable, with good quality air, I can be found outside either engaged in yard chores or just relaxing and enjoying the weather itself.

Car use: In an average year, I drive no more than a thousand miles. This is a big change from my younger days when I was employed. What this means is, at most, I’m buying 40 gallons of gasoline annually. I’m basing this on my vehicle getting an average 25 miles per gallon. Think of the savings compared to driving 10 times that or 10,000 yearly miles and the fuel required to make that happen. Imagine if everyone did similarly, that is cut their driving to one-tenth of what is typical. Ten times fewer miles driven means 10 times less fuel consumed. A marked difference, for sure!

While I do not expect everyone else to live as conservatively as I, that I live like I do, works well for me. Though it may be simple, my life is comfortable and my needs are met. Saving money and helping the air is always good.


Here’s two encouraging news items.

Firstly, on Nov. 8th California voters approved a proposition upholding a ban on plastic bags.

Secondly, our (Fresno’s) season rainfall total as of Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 is 4.08 inches. This compares to a normal season-to-date precipitation total of 2.87 inches of rain. It means we are ahead of the game. The western U.S. has been saddled with somewhat prolonged drought, this being year five going on year six, if I recall correctly. Rain: another way air gets helped. We’ll take it!

Upper image above: Ashley Felton

– Alan Kandel

1 thought on “Personal air-quality activity profile”

  1. A few customers look to us to record a carbon footprint, without ever actually looking closely at what’s recorded or what the number means. All in all a fairly meaningless exercise.

    But it’s had an unintended consequence – I now pay a lot more attention in my personal life and household management to the things that I have to record on the company’s behalf. Just goes to show that awareness can have a bigger impact than trying to bring in compliance. As you say – imagine if we all did it, every day…

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