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Student footprints

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Student footprints

Moderated by I2I Admin
This is an open discussion associated with the International Student Carbon Footprint Challenge (ISCFC).

Students from around the world calculated their class mean and standard deviations for their footprints and posted them on our web site (see link at right). Do you see differences across the globe? If so, why do you think those differences exist?

Did you use the calculator to identify areas in your life that you can make changes in order to reduce your footprint? Are you willing ot make those changes?
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Naina Asaravala, Oct. 20, 2013

My name is Naina and I am a freshman at Las Lomas High School. I recently calculated my carbon footprint for a school project and the results were higher than the average californian. I was expecting to get around average, but I was not surprised when I got the results. overall, I was higher than average, but in some sections, such as food and purchases, I was below average. On the other hand, the “home” and “transportation” sections were both more than double the average californian.

Before I took the quiz, I knew right away that my home section would be more than average. my house is pretty big, and while I was counting the number of light bulbs, I realized that we had way more than I thought. There were 68 incandescent and 48 fluorescent. my dad tried to change the number of incandescent bulbs we had, but in some rooms, we put in dimmers, and they don’t work on fluorescent bulbs. My showers are pretty long, too, which I have been trying very hard to change. Also, my family likes to keep our phones and computers in the charger over night, so that uses a lot of electricity. I am hoping to lessen the use of carbon in this area by taking shorter showers, turing the lights off as often as I can, and only keeping my phone and computer in the charger when they need to charge.

My transportation was more than average as well. Although my family likes to carpool as often as possible, we still drive places a lot. Not only do we drive a lot, we like to go on trips and vacations that require airplane flights as well. I the past year, i have gone on 2 round-trip flights (four flights over all). I went to DC ( and back ) and to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (and back ). both of those trips were very long flights, so they used a lot of gasoline. I am hoping to improve this section of my carbon footprint as well, by trying to use an alternative source of transportation when possible, such as biking. As for the plane trips, maybe we could go on vacations that aren’t as far away, or maybe take flights less often.

This quiz has made me more aware of how I live my daily life, and if I ever take this quiz again, I hope my carbon foot print has reduced by then.

Naina Asaravala

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Maura Beattie, Oct. 19, 2013

My name is Maura and I am from Illinois.
Before completing my carbon footprint, I figured I would be a little lower than average because of the way my family and I live (transportation, shopping, eating, etc…). I recycle everyday and participate in composting at my school.

For my carbon footprint, I do not eat eat everyday during the week, I do not travel very often or have to drive places often, and I do not spend much money on shopping. Considering all of this, my carbon footprint was lower than the average: just as I predicted.

My carbon footprint is significantly lower than the average because of the meals I eat, the recycling I do, the purchases I make, and the amount of transportation I do.

I think Americans need to reduce their amount of carbon, because the amounts are destroying the environment and using natural resources in abundance.

To continue my low carbon footprint, I am going to reduce the amount of meat meals I eat a week and I am going to find more ways to reuse things.

Maura Beattie
Comments (4)
  • Mary Rapmund Mary Rapmund Oct. 23, 2013
    Hi Jessica! I think it's really good that even in California, you can stay under average. That's almost impossible for me at the moment. My results were far above average which really discouraged me. I've been trying, in the past weeks since I calculated my foot print, to be more energy efficient and encourage my family to support me. It's so unreal how all of the little things we do in life can affect such a big carbon footprint that humans have created. I think we all really do need to take a stand and do things to improve our own footprints and our species' footprint. We all need to work together to improve our environment because we want our future generations to enjoy it like we have enjoyed. I think that you have really good habits of conserving energy in our society. I think what we all get out of the Carbon footprint challenge is a motivation to do better. To improve our lifestyles and how we use energy. It really opens our eyes and gives us a new perspective on the world we live in and how we can improve and conserve it for future inhabitants.
  • John F John F Oct. 25, 2013
    I also had the same experience with my carbon footprint. I can understand how getting below average can be difficult for some people, but i glad that some of you are trying. I think that people living in developed countries need to find ways to lower our CO2 emissions and make these changes soon because of the way it is affecting our planet. i don't think that at our current rate of change we will be able to prevent some of the problems of climate change. but by making changes to our daily lives and being conscious of how our actions affect things i think that we can make a difference.
  • Camie Lukaszewski Camie Lukaszewski Oct. 25, 2013
    I think it's a really good idea to eat less meat. I forget how much meat, red especially, adds to our carbon foot print. Also if a dominant race like humans decided to raise people for meat we wouldn't be very happy about that, yet that's exactly what we do to so many animals.I Also agree that we are using a lot more than our share of the world's natural resources, and students all across the country are learning about it.
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Charlotte D-USA, Oct. 19, 2013

I’m Charlotte and I live in California. I expected my footprint would be average or a little higher than that as I feel I dont do many acitvities that cause a higher footprint. Surprisingly, my carbon footprint was very high! It was at least double the average Americans carbon footprint. My main cause of my footprint was my transportation.

After I looked through my data more carefully, plane flights have been the major factor in my high carbon footprint. They take a lot of fuel that lets off carbon in different forms. Also, i have gone on many trips in the past year which led to a bigger carbon footprint. Food and home energy were next in my carbon footprint.

After comparing with my friends, we all have around the same carbon footprint. I infer that most Californians that live by me have a high carbon footprint. As I was trying to figure out a way to lower my carbon footprint, I thought of trying to car pool more often and limit my long flights. Also, we could all switch out our lightbulbs for more efficient light bulbs around our house. This project has made me aware of what an impact everything you do is to our environment.

Charlotte D-USA
Comments (1)
  • Scarlett Mijatovich Scarlett Mijatovich Oct. 20, 2013
    Hey Charlotte! I'm Scarlett and I also live in California. I figured that my footprint would be about the same as everyone else's as well but it turns out that mine is insanely lower! I've been comparing my results with other students who live in California and mine seem to be very different from everyone else's.

    While you say that you've traveled quite often withing the past year, I've hardly gone anywhere so my transportation footprint was very low. I also walk nearly everywhere since I live so closely to school and the city. What I did find very interesting was that my Home footprint was higher than the rest of my results, though still lower than average. I believe that this is because since I live in Northern California where the temperatures are constantly changing from hot to cold, I use the air conditioning and heater a lot over the course of a year.

    I believe that us American's can change our footprints for the better, all it takes is a little cooperation from the community. Your idea of carpooling is very smart for students our age while we have that as an option. I was thinking that we could also always ride bikes to not only clean the air, but to keep ourselves healthy as well. Thank you for posting; it has enlightened me on other student's thoughts and lifestyles in my area. I will continue to strive for a cleaner and more beautiful planet.
    - Scarlett

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Ian W, Oct. 19, 2013

Hello everybody.
I am Ian Weeks and I live in Walnut Creek, CA USA. My carbon footprint was, interestingly enough, much higher than I expected. ‘Shocker’. It seems like most people in this discussion are above the average carbon footprint. I suppose that it isn’t surprising, most of us being American and all, but I feel as if I was green, that I was trying harder to recycle, to help the planet and save the Earth while others gassed us out of our own planet. As it turns out, I’m worst than the rest of you ( you being not you, reader, but average American), and that leaves me feeling puzzled, and honestly kind of bad.

As I looked through my results, I found that from just my traveling this year I am quite near the average for a human. This includes many plane flights across the United Sates and car ride to and from Alaska. Without transportation, I would be green enough to be considered a martian: I eat barely enough to sustain myself and most of what I do eat is vegetarian. I don’t buy a lot of things and California doesn’t require a lot of heat or air conditioning.

The fact that transportation only spiked my data got me thinking on whether other people had the same smudge in their otherwise fine collection. Scrolling through, I found many similar cases to mine. So this convinced me, or reiterated that fact into my head, that we need to either cut down on our transportation and go ‘au natural’ or we need to attain better technology to be a little bit less harsh on Mr. Ozone layer when we do travel. What can I do though? I’m not going to flatter myself, I don’t see an electric car or efficient train system coming out of my head. What can one high schooler do to affect what contributes to the air every day?

After I was done being cynical, I went back and looked through my results a second time to find ways to ‘cut corners’. I found some pretty obvious ones at first, taking shorter showers and changing all the remaining incandescent lights to florescent, and, while these perhaps do not have as big an impact as my transport did, they do make a small difference. As a kid, I suppose that a small difference is better than none, and that at least I am doing something.

Ian W

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Daniel Oliner, Oct. 19, 2013


I am a High schooler in the Bay Area and I recently calculated my Carbon Footprint in my Biology class. I figured my Footprint would be around average, seeing as my Mom drives a hybrid and I try and stay somewhat aware of how my actions can affect the environment. My results, however contradicted my hypothesis. My Footprint was shockingly high, nearly doubling the average American’s. I studied my results and noticed that my plane flights were the cause of the major spike in my footprint.

After noticing the effects the plane flights had on my Carbon Footprint I was motivated to search for a more efficient, practical way to fly. So I wondered what my government was doing to force aircrafts to be more climate-friendly. Then I ran into an article (link below) which stated that the EPA has refused to control pollution created by aircraft. It also mentioned that foreign governments, including the European union, have already attempted to control this major pollution source. So my idea is to force airline companies into using more climate-friendly methods, such as efficient engines and energy sources. This would not only help solve one aspect of climate-change, but also would contribute to the solving of global warming as a whole.

Calculating my footprint really opened my eyes to the ways I am hurting the environment. It also motivated me to try and be a part of the solution, not the problem, and I will continue to motivate myself, and others, to do the same.

Daniel Oliner
Comments (1)
  • Conor Flannery Conor Flannery Oct. 22, 2013
    I too had a lot of my carbon footprint taken up by flights i have been on. In the past year I've been on a total of 8 flights all being longer than 5 hours. This was a huge part of my transportation part of my footprint. But, I also drive many places for outside of school activities. Usually for sports i try and carpool but sometimes i drive alone. I notice this is slowly killing the Earth and if nobody helps stop it, it could be the end of all life on Earth and Earth could maybe become a new ball of heat in space, kind of like the sun.

    I like your idea about stopping airlines and making them more Earth-friendly. As you said this could help stop climate change slowly but also might lead to new ideas and help even more! But the only is problem is first we need to invent a more advanced and safer (for the planet) way to fly and create a new engine or new device in all like a wind or solar powered hovercraft!! These are just ideas that could slowly help climate change by limiting the amount of carbon every person gives off.

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madeline tuazon, Oct. 18, 2013

Hello All :)
Recently in my science class we did a little project with calculating our Carbon Footprints. Going into this I never gave much thought to ‘Carbon Footprints’ or that even the littlest of things I do in my every day life can contribute to a bigger picture. When I took the survey / input my information I was a little nervous to see what I was gonna end up having as my result. Since I live in the U.S., I was aware that we have one of the most polluted places and the highest amounts of CO2. Surprisingly though, my results came to be about a little below average. I was so relieved to find that out, but other than that I was glad to find out which activities are raising that level. Out of the four categories the two that were the main sources were transportation and household things. I was more shocked with the transportation being so high because I’ve only traveled a couple of times and we only really go to school, and I’ve been on at least 2 flights over the past year. As for household means I often tend to leave on the lights, or in my house we leave things plugged in when they aren’t in use, air conditioning is often used, and even the amount of water sad to say isn’t always conserved. On the upside though my family does a lot of recycling at home and we have compost. As for the food and purchases that wasn’t very high. I think I’ve learned that I need to be more aware of the little activities that I do on a day to day basis. Conserving more and more electricity, water, gases will be something I will to try to aim for in my everyday life tasks. Seeing my results motivates me to try for better.

madeline tuazon
Comments (4)
  • Matilda J_Na11bSwe Matilda J_Na11bSwe Oct. 21, 2013
    Flying increases the carbon footprint a lot. My footprint got high over average mainly because of that I have flown more than ususal this year. My footprint was also high in the household part and that's because I live with my family in a not necessary big house, therefore we need to use more energy to heat it in the winter. Things like living in a big house can affect more than we think, atleast I was surprised that it was such a big difference.
  • Andrew W Andrew W Oct. 23, 2013
    I recently did the Carbon Footprint Challenge as well and I wanted to give my response to it and about how this affects the environment:
    When I filled out the CFC online, two things became very clear: I was way above the average in travel and food, whilst lower on purchases and electric consumption at home.
    After looking at the number's I understood why: I live in a house full of fluorescent light bulbs and have good habits about turning off lights, I'm a teen and need a high caloric intake, I travel a lot more than the average person does especially on plane trips, and I don't really buy a lot of new items and clothes at all.
    After also looking through the questions and fiddling with the numbers on some things, I learned that fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent makes a huge difference, that planes bur a ton of carbon dioxide, that caloric intake is the biggest factor in carbon dioxide emissions, and recycling whatever you can.
  • Kyle K Kyle K Oct. 25, 2013
    After doing the carbon footprint challenge, I too have learned that I need to be more aware of the little things I do daily. Two of my biggest sources of releasing greenhouse gases were transportation and home. Who knew that turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth would save so much more water? Before the challenge, I never though about what I was doing in my house: leaving lights on after I leave a room, taking a 10 minute shower, and even throwing away things that could be recycled. I also never released how much CO2 a plane ride can release and seeing how I've taken 5 in the past year, I feel a little bad for polluting the air.
    After doing this challenge, I'm going to make sure I release the least amount of greenhouse gases I can. I'll take the time to turn off lights, unplugging things when they aren't in use, and turning of the water whenever I'm not using it. I'll also recycle everything I can and I may even start to compost. This challenge has really opened up my eyes to what humans are doing to the world.
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Devyn Fisher, Oct. 18, 2013

Hi, I am from California and I just did the Carbon Footprint Challenge. I found my results interesting, even though they were about what I expected. My transportation was pretty good because I have a natural gas car. Everything else was about normal, though my transportation was a bit high because I took two long plane flights this last year to Washington D.C.

I was surprised that the average calorie consumption for males in California is 4020. Healthy people should be about 2500, so 4020 is way too high. My purchases are the lowest compared to the rest the of the region. I only have 531 kg of purchases even though the average in the region is 1191. I think this is because i almost always reuse things and I recycle a lot. I think the government could do more to promote recycling and and ways to release less carbon emissions.

I think it is crazy that the average emissions needed to make the environment stable would be about 1000kg per capita. That’s less then the average person in California uses for just food. We definitely need to cut down on our carbon footprint emissions. I thought that I did a lot to reduce my carbon footprint, but I could do a lot more. Right now I ride in a natural gas car and have LED lights, which both have 0 emissions. I think that now I am also going to start changing how I charge my phone. I usually charge my phone all night, but I think i am going to start only charging it a couple hours a day. Overall, I think the calculator was very interesting and let me know a lot about how I live compared to other people.

Devyn Fisher
Comments (3)
  • Kamille Castro Kamille Castro Oct. 18, 2013
    The study had opened my eyes as well as to how much carbon footprint i contribute to the mother earth. This made us aware of what we do and what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. I, too, made changes on how I do my daily chores. Taking shorter shower, checking all lights, and unplugging unnecessary equipment may not help much, but collectively we could make a difference. I hope that many kids like us would do the same and help our planet to be in a better shape. One thing we can also do is to tell our friends and families that they too can make these changes and will help reduce carbon footprints. Nice work.
  • darrin b darrin b Oct. 21, 2013
    It seems like a good idea to drive with a natural gas car. And it's surprising that the average calorie consumption is 4020. Also the fact that we need to get our emissions around 1000kg per captia is unreal.
  • charlotte holbrook charlotte holbrook Oct. 24, 2013
    Hi Devyn, my results turned out similar to yours and i was surprised about a few of the same things as you. Flights had a huge impact on my carbon footprint aswell and it had surprised me because i hadn't even traveled that far. Also, I completely agree on your statement about how the government should/could promote recycling and reusing more than they already do because im sure if i was reminded and it was brought to my attention more i would recycle much more than i already do.

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Kelly S-USA, Oct. 18, 2013

Hello, my name is Kelly and I’m from Texas. After calculating my carbon footprint, i released that the most contributing factor was transportation. My carbon footprint for transportation was 8939 kg and in my region it is 6387 kg. I had 6 flights last year which is a lot for me. I usually just take 2 flights each year, but last year was an exception. This year so far i have only had 2 flights and I probably won’t go anywhere for the rest of the year, so if i were to calculate my carbon footprint with that information then it would probably go down a bit. Transportation was the only contributing factor that was above average of my region. I have done research and now know that transportation is one of the main causes for carbon footprints being so high. I now know to watch and conserve energy in the transportation department. Not only on airplanes but in cars, buses and trains.

Kelly S-USA
Comments (2)
  • Daniel Oliner Daniel Oliner Oct. 19, 2013
    Hi Kelly,
    My footprint was similar to yours in that the flights I took last year caused my footprint to be larger than expected. Though limiting the amount of flights I take could help the solution somewhat, I think airlines using more efficient, climate-friendly methods is the way to go in solving this problem.
  • Lile D Lile D Oct. 19, 2013
    Hello Kelly,
    My name is Lile Donohue. I am a freshman in high school and currently live in California, USA. After taking the Carbon Footprint Quiz, my results were similar to yours in the way that transportation was the biggest factor in which my carbon footprint was higher than the average American. In all of the other categories, such as Home, Food, and Purchases, I was actually lower than the average Californian. For our home energy use, we have a relatively average-sized house that needs no air conditioning whatsoever. However, we do use a fireplace during the winter, which would have quite a big effect on our carbon emission levels if it weren't for the fact that our stove is made so that it is low-emission to the outdoors. In fact, even by just owning this environmentally-friendly stove receives a tax refund from the U.S. government. For purchases, we only buy as much as we really need. But my family travels- a lot. Every summer, my family flies to Japan and stay there for a few months. To get to the city we stay at, there are three long plane trips and other bus and train trips. Obviously, we travel the same way back. Then there are the long road trips, and those frequent trips to the grocery store, or a friend's house, or to get to a lesson of some sort. Because of this, my family emits 6800 kg of carbon per year all on transportation! That's more than 2 and 1/2 times more than the average Californian spends on transportation annually, and 1.8 times the average person on Earth spends on home, purchases, food, AND transportation COMBINED. All because of traveling.
    To decrease our carbon emission, can we just stay at home, and not go anywhere for the rest of our lives? Obviously not. The problem we humans have is the fact that we only care about the profit and not how it harms the Earth. It seems to be that the decisions made are for the present and no thinking on how it will affect people in the future. This isn't the way we should be dealing with these huge problems. We need to find an efficient energy source that will sustain the people on this planet for a long, long time. But, it's hard for people like you and me to suddenly get an awesome idea on a reliable energy source and start working on it. What we can do, though, is spread the word. We need to let people know what's actually going on. And then there is recycling. I think it's a great idea, we should lower the amount we have to throw away in the first place. Or lowering the amount of energy we use. Can we turn off that computer for an hour more than usual? Think about how much that would save if everyone in America who owned a computer or laptop did that every day. It doesn't even have to be for an hour- it could be for half an hour, fifteen minutes, one minute, even. It would still make a difference. And making a small difference will count as a lot in the future. Thank you,
    Lile Donohue (10-19-2013)

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Jeevin S-USA, Oct. 17, 2013

Hello, my name is Jeevin Sandhu from Oakland California. After my realization of how much excess carbon is unnecessarily released per capita in California, I tried to look up ways that could be the rational. My findings were shocking.

I found that every year Americans (just American’s alone!) throw away enough paper, cups, forks and spoons to circle the equator of the earth 300 times. In offices in America alone, the average worker throws away 500 disposable cups a year! Imagine how many office workers there are in America. Every year, America uses approximately 102.1 billion plastic bags and most of them end up in landfills. Over 7 billion pounds of PVC are thrown away and only 7 million are recycled. These facts are staggering and almost unrealistic.

I think that education is the key to controlling carbon emissions in the United States. If these astounding facts were presented to the next generation of American’s, there could potentially be a huge difference of carbon emission of future generations. If we present this information, and show the catastrophic results and ramification of our nation and world’s carbon emission change is imminent.

Jeevin S-USA
Comments (4)
  • jamie B USA jamie B USA Oct. 17, 2013
    I also agree with you. It is incredible how many plastic bags a family of 5 could go though. My family friends have 5 people in there family and they go food shopping and I remember last time I counted 15 bags. A lot of people don't reuse bags. I think it would make a hug difference if everyone made that little change to reuse bags. In some areas now they are charging people for bags for ten cents. Which I actually think is a great idea. It encourages people to be more carefully with the amount of plastic bags they use. I don't know where people think plastic bags go after being thrown away. I se them all over the streets. I also learned that it takes a plastic bag 10 years to discenigrate.
  • Mark K-USA Mark K-USA Oct. 17, 2013
    I completely agree with you and Ariel, we shouldn't be using plastic as much especially to hold our food, which is probably already wrapped in plastic. I really like the ideas of cities making plastic bags and extra 5 or 10 cents. In the end it really adds up. People go shopping so much it could be hundreds of dollars a year wasted on silly bags. My family has reusable bags that we bought for a dollar and we use it almost always. And if we forget it, we never use plastic. We buy paper, and we use it for recycling bags or stuff for school projects. Theres no point in plastic.
  • Daniel Oliner Daniel Oliner Oct. 19, 2013
    Hi Jeevin,
    I agree with you completely that education is the key to controlling climate change. As a student, I have not been exposed to the effects of Global-Warming enough and, if I had not researched it on my own, I would not know the severity of it. Education leads to awareness, and awareness leads to a solution to this looming problem.
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Tamia Y-USA, Oct. 17, 2013

Hi my name is Mia, I live in Northern California and I’m also doing the carbon footprint challenge. One of the first things that shocked me was that due to my dislike for walking, my transportation footprint was two thirds more than the average for my region. For example I drive to school, home, mall, trips to San Francisco, and eating out. Even more shocking is that my purchasing footprint is ten times larger than my region, because when I shop, I buy high-end and name brand products.

I suppose when I move to Asia my carbon footprint for transportation will decrease due to taking the train. Likely things will cost a lot more so my purchasing footprint will sky rocket even more since I want to go live in Japan and South Korea.

Tamia Y-USA

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