Calculating my Environmental Footprint

Before I start to try and reduce our family’s environmental footprint (and the associated costs) I think it’s about time I actually looked at where we are and take a snap shot, if you will. With some help from One Earth to Live who has posted some Carbon Footprint Calculators on her site I’m sitting down to work out where we stand currently and where we can possibly improve.


We have two four-cylinder cars. One is four years old and the other is five years. Each car is filled between once a fortnight and once a month, depending on how often we are driving. My husband’s car is usually only used for work which is a 15-30 minute drive but an hour by train. Personally, I’d prefer my husband home for that extra hour each day. My car is used for general errands and for weekend trips. There are often days where I don’t go anywhere though.

My car current mileage: 55588 km
Approximate 12 months mileage: 5672 km

Husband’s car current mileage: 38793 km
Approximate 12 months mileage: 6740 km


We live in a two-bedroom apartment. It has a south facing balcony which, in the southern hemisphere, means we don’t get much direct sun. It means growing fruit and vegetables on the balcony could be a challenge, especially because we have resident possums who have managed to destroy almost everything I’ve tried to grow so far. Lucky for us our climate means that we don’t need heating or cooling for most of the year.


Here’s our last 12 months of electricity usage per quarter:

  • Oct 2009: 1302.5 kWh
  • Jan 2010: 1333 kWh
  • Jul 2010: 1082 kWh
  • Oct 2010: 1112.6 kWh
  • Average:  1207.5 kWh

Given that we had a baby in September I would like to at least keep this stable and possibly reduce it. Between the first and last bill there was a 15% decrease.


Here’s our last 12 months water usage per quarter:

  • Feb 2010: 27 kL
  • May 2010: 29 kL
  • Aug 2010: 27 kL
  • Nov 2010: 25 kL
  • Average: 27 kL

Given that we had a baby in September and are using cloth nappies, which need washing I would be surprised if we can keep this at the same level. Between the first and last bill there was a 7% decrease. Note: the water is actually averaged out between all the units in the complex so our bill is also reliant on the water usage of our neighbours.


We are meat eaters. I try and shop once a fortnight and organise mean plans to reduce wastage. We buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the local markets each week. At the moment we don’t buy organic and we still shop at the supermarket which is walking distance from home.


We try to limit the amount of consumer goods we buy. My husband buys computer games and downloads them online rather than buying the physical copy at the games shop. I have eliminated my book-buying and go to the local library instead, which is also in walking distance. In fact lately we have been getting rid of far more goods than we have replaced. Freecycle and eBay are our tools of choice.


We throw out about the equivalent of one shopping bag a day, a lot of this is compostable waste but living in an apartment I hadn’t found a suitable solution to this until I stumbled Bokashi. I am considering buying a unit to trial. It would be really great if I could find a second-hand one but might have to resort to purchasing new. We also throw out about the same in recycling each day.

The Results
Carbon Footprint calculated our household output as: 10.54 metric tons of CO2

Carbon Footprint

Live Clean calculated it at: 6.95 metric tons of CO2

WWF calculated that it would take 2.3 planets to sustain our lifestyle if everyone lived as we do.
WWF Footprint results
By the looks of it we aren’t doing too badly compared to other households in similar countries but we are still using far more resources than the earth can sustain. In the future I’ll be exploring ways we can further reduce our usage. But for now I would be really interested in what other people use in terms of water, electricity and car mileage.


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