Carbon Challenge Update – July

As promised yesterday here is my Carbon Update.  Let’s just say I was shocked by the numbers.  According to the calculations Matt and I are living above the Western average.  Most of that had to do with the fact that we bought a lot of new stuff in July.  We bought a total of four pairs of shoes!  We hardly ever buy shoes, but somehow we went a little crazy in July.  I also bought some new running clothes (could have made do with what I had) and we bought other various household items that we probably could have found used.  We are getting better at buying secondhand, but we still have plenty of room to improve.  Buying secondhand will also help us in the rubbish and recycling numbers (little or no packaging when you buy used), so that is an added incentive.  We also drove to Colorado at the end of July and drove home at the beginning of August and we used plenty of gas to do that, so we will have higher than normal numbers in the gas department.  But we were still above the Western average even before adding all that extra gas.

Highlights from the month:

  • We used only 851.2 kWh in electricity this was below the national average of 888 kWh per month here in the U.S. and it came from our energy statement for part of June and July, two of our most energy intensive months.
  • We harvested 10 pounds of food!  I think that is pretty good for my little garden.
  • We commuted 50 miles by bike for the month.  Considering July is the hottest month of the year, I am very happy with that result.

Areas for improvement:

  • We used 10,235 gallons of water.  The summer months we usually do see our highest water use, but this one was ridiculous.  Let’s just say we installed a new drip system for the garden, decided to test it, and then forgot to turn it off.  We flooded our yard and our neighbors!  It was a giant waste of water.  I am so embarrassed to admit we did that.
  • We used 39.3 gallons of gas, this is way above our average and will be drastically reduced in September.
  • We also bought too much stuff!


The good thing about keeping track of our numbers and looking at our impact is we can see which areas we need to work on next.  I would love to switch to a solar or wind energy program for electricity, but our current utility company doesn’t offer it and the utilities are still regulated in Arizona and we do not get to pick our provider.  I would have loved to taken the train to Colorado, but we just couldn’t make it work (we seriously do not have a good passenger train system.)  The biggest thing Matt and I can work on right now is not buying new items.  We will be working on getting better at that over the next couple of months.


Here is my actual usage sheet if you want to check it out:  2008-cacrevised

We did use American Forest to plant some trees to offset our vacation and other areas for improvement.  Reduction would be better but for now I will keep planting trees.