Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whalen's Wanderings

A Personal Challenge with a Global Impact

About two months ago I decided, foolishly, that I wanted to challenge myself to lose weight while saving the environment. Most people would know that I am passionate about environmental sustainability but most would be shocked to hear that I need to lose a few pounds. I didn't want to diet, or change my eating habits, and I didn't just want to hit the gym, so I combined this new weight loss initiative with my passion for the environment. The result is my personal "Green Weight Loss Challenge."

The goal of my challenge is to lose 15lbs while reducing my carbon footprint. To do this I have started walking to work on a regular basis. This reduces the amount of driving I do and thus reduces the amount of carbon I release into the atmosphere. To take this endeavor one step farther I started calculating my carbon credits and comparing that to my weight loss. To be completely honest, it has been a frustrating experience to date. I have lost very little weight over the two months, but I have gained a new respect for those who have battled with their weight for a number of years. My weight issue is not a big one and I truly thought I would easily shed the 15lbs I had set as a goal. Boy was I wrong. On a typical 4day backpacking trip I can lose 5lbs, but after walking to work over 25 times in the last two months, I have only lost 4lbs. It was 6lbs but I gained 2 back somewhere.

Despite the low weight loss number I am happy that I am reducing my carbon footprint. Luckily for me I am not trying to realize any financial gain from carbon credits. I was surprised to learn how much effort I would need to make to simply create one carbon credit, and even more shocked at how little one carbon credit was worth. One carbon credit is one ton of carbon, and it has a trade value of approximately $30. My less than modest car generates approximately 0.237kgC/km (kilograms of Carbon/km) and I walk 4.8km in order to get to work. To date I have walked to work 26 times, a total of 124.8km. This keeps 29.6kgC out of the environment, providing me with a potential financial windfall of $0.89+/-. In order for me to realize 1 carbon credit ($20-$40) I will have to walk to work for about 4 more years and I don't need to tell you what that works out to per hour of walking.

For the time being I am entirely content simply walking for my good health while doing my part for the environment. Whether I lose weight or make a fortune matters very little to me. It is interesting though to bring these two topics together and realize how my personal health can also impact the environment. If you are looking to help the environment then you can start by looking after yourself. Until I started this challenge I didn't really see that connection.

Just a reminder that the Kennebecasis Watershed is hosting a presentation by Roberta Clowater from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, NB Chapter, on March 17th from 7-9pm at 1067 Main Street, Sussex Corner. The title of the presentation is "How Can Rivers and Forests Help Us in a Time of Climate Change."

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