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Career/lifestyle emissions

March 27, 2007

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the GHG emissions I am responsible for. Having been told by the emissions calculator that my emissions are WAY above average, and are over 90% transportation-based, I’ve realized exactly how tied to career and lifestyle choices GHG emissions really are.

For many people, myself included, managing one’s career is a fairly high priority, second only to one’s domestic life. With our exceptionally mobile society, this manifests itself by producing a lot of commuters; people don’t work where they live anymore. Just looking at the 401 heading towards Toronto on any given weekday morning shows you how many people are living in a different community than they’re working. Regretably, I’m no exception.

Why do we do this? We want a nice house in a nice neighbourhood with good schools. At the same time, we want the best job that pays the most and allows us the most options for advancement. In many situations, you simply can’t afford to live where you work, as you’d have to alter your lifestyle to be able to afford accommodation. (I’ve looked into moving to Toronto before, and it’s easily double what it costs in Waterloo, just for a home.) In some cases, people simply don’t want to move. It’s all about lifestyle preferences.

I’m trying to change that, at least for myself. I would really like to work where I live, and eliminate one vehicle from my driveway entirely. To do so, I’m going to have to make sacrifices. Likely, I won’t find my dream job that is a 20 minute bike ride from my house. However, I could probably find work in my field that would be satisfying. Being able to eliminate a vehicle could easily save me $5000/year, which I could take away from any salary requirements, thereby further opening the local job market. With a few concessions and lifestyle changes, I can drastically reduce my carbon footprint.

With even more changes, it’s possible I could get my family’s entire footprint even smaller. Taken to the extreme, I could purchase a small acreage in the country and live off the land. I could build my own shelter, grow/raise my own food, and I would work only to sustain myself. I’d have no need to work for money to pay for the things I need to live (in order that I may work for money…). Of course, that is getting fairly extreme.

My point is that with some lifestyle changes, everyone has the ability to reduce their footprint. I’ve already decided that I’m willing to make those changes, now I just need the job to allow me to put them into effect.


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