my car’s carbon footprint

Just calculated my car’s carbon footprint at this website:


from Clean Air Conservancy website: cleanairconservancy.org

You know, this is something I have been thinking about for 20 years at least – how much my driving is spewing out into the atmosphere. I remember back in the 80’s on NPR hearing how in Sweden they had cars that got 70 mpg and that we could have that here, but US automakers didn’t want that. I also remember hearing that we could cut emissions by doing things such as not going through drive-through’s, not topping-off at the pump and by not warming up the car in the morning. All of that burned up more fuel, which adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. I remember trying to wrap my brain around it all then and having it slowly sink in. I also remember envisioning not driving as much – walking to the bus stop and riding my bike to destinations.


Zoom to today, where I lead a life of zooming around zee town. We live on the outskirts, and daughter and I need to be downtown 5 days a week. I still feel the dread when I drive too much. And will not go back into town for a concert or a meeting a lot because of it. I also like to pack in as many errands to a trip as possible, to the point of exhaustion sometimes. But, I have to say, I do not quite grasp the concept yet of a carbon footprint. And I feel frustrated sometimes that my carbon footprint will reveal my wasteful ways.


So when I was on the PBS Newshour website just now and saw that tonight’s Paul Solman’s Making $ense feature will be “What’s your car’s carbon tireprint?” I decided to grit my teeth and face the greedy facts of my usage. I plugged in my data and found out I could write a check for under 40 bucks and pay for my year’s worth of atmosphere spoilage. Not that I really understand how that works, yet – that you can pay off your usage.


I am realizing that this can be an enjoyable journey – learning about carbon usage. It can be more knowledge, and not just feeling culpable, guilty. Of course, when it will come to what I am cooking for dinner, well, I may get a little defensive when I realize that my favorite meal of green chile chicken enchiladas wastes way more precious atmosphere than a salad made from the local farmers’ market. But I will be learning. And learning will loosen up my dread, I hope.

2000 Toyota Sienna

3L, 6 cyl., Automatic (4 speed), Front-wheel drive

Total City Miles: 7,000

Total Highway Miles: 3,000

City MPG: 18 MPG

Highway MPG: 24 MPG

Gallons of Fuel (City): 388.89 gallons

Gallons of Fuel (Highway): 125 gallons

Gallons of Fuel (Total): 513.89 gallons

NETZERO Calculations

Total Pounds CO2: 9918.08 lbs

Total CO2 MT Emission: 4.5 MT

TOTAL CO2 Credit Cost: $36.00


5 Responses to “my car’s carbon footprint”

  1. February 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    If I performed an analysis like yours, I know I would be very much out of step with conservation and sustainability. Living so far away from town, we try and combine as many errands as we can when we go to save gasoline and pollution. When I retire, our footprint will be smaller.

    • February 4, 2011 at 9:20 am

      Jack – how far away is a decent grocery store? Haven’t small towns lost a lot of small businesses that would help us not have to travel so far?

  2. February 4, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I’ve severely limited how many miles I drive by working at home, doing multiple tasks and errands when I do go out, and paying close attention to eliminating unnecessary trips. So far I’ve reduced the number of miles I drive by two thirds. I also live in a rural area where there are no stores, and this makes all of this reducing the carbon footprint business more difficult.

  3. February 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Being conscious matters. Doing what you can is what we need to focus on. Not guilt that we aren’t doing enough. But also we need to support efforts by the government and business community to change old wasteful habits. And we need to inform ourselves. Not ignore. The polar bears’ plight with loss of habitat is a beacon of how climate change can affect planet Earth. If we ignore and do nothing in the face of drastic changes, won’t it be harder to live with ourselves?

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