Have you been wondering about your carbon footprint? I took some time this January to do some calculations (and discover some tools and resources) to see if the decisions I am making are lining up with my goal to reduce the carbon footprint of providing speech-language therapy in my community.

Speech-language therapists often drive A LOT. In 2019 I took some deliberate steps to try to reduce the carbon foot print of this key aspect of my work. I firmly believe in working with clients where they live, work, and learn -- but it is a lot of time driving. As part of my 2020 goals, I have been doing some maths around my carbon footprint .

Here are some links and tools I have found useful

  • Chandoo.org's excel template allows me to use my my Bing / google API keys to be able to calculate the distances between a list of locations
  • The NZ Right Car site - calulates the CO2 grams/litre for a given car. I found out that my Toyota hybrid is estimated to emit 3 gram CO2/km
  • To get a sense of what current emission levels are like globally and in my country, I used the data from https://www.icos-cp.eu/GCP/2018 plus populations stats to get a sense of things. I also found that http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/carbon-targets-for-your-footprint is another way to help me get a feel for these numbers.

Identifying the exact coordinates for a series of locations

Chandoo.org's calculated adjusted to my business needs

Adding up the distances between locations

Summation of distances between a series of locations

Final realisations

The replacement of my older car for a newer, hybrid has dramatically reduced my carbon emission (based on an average day and using the closest car model that with C02 data available).

Table of new car emitting 2.24 T C02 per year versus the older replace car that I estimate emitted 4.97 T per year

I then also calculated what the potential difference if I reduced my individual carbon footprint (but offloading it onto my clients) by switching from my current system of driving to clients and instead had people travel to me.

Assuming that each client would be driving a single roundtrip from home/school to my clinic (excluding the likely scenario of an additional trip between a parent's work and their child's school), that all families are driving a low emissions vehicle, and selecting a clinic location in Thordon, I would dramatically increase my carbon footprint if I switched to a central clinic location.

Calculating the difference between me driving (132 km/day, 2.24 T C02 / year) versus clients driving to me (217 km/day, 2.24 T / year)

That helps me feel less guilty about the amount of driving I do. Clinically it makes the most sense, but good to know that it also makes better environmental sense if I look at the larger picture.

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