Wrapping It Up For the Holidays


Carol Singer Neuvelt

From Black Friday to today’s Cyber Monday, our consumption and spending greatly increase this time of year. This post-Thanksgiving focus on purchasing, spending and “doing” has highlighted the fact that our personal choices DO make a difference.

Professionally, we focus on processes & creating systems that allow us to measure our progress. As the saying goes, “What gets measured; gets managed.”  So on a personal front, I ask “how do I measure the impacts of my decisions?”

Looking to have a bit of fun with this, the staff at NAEM researched a number of the carbon footprint calculator sites to measure impact. We had mixed results and were surprised to see that very few of the calculators took into account anything beyond utilities and transportation.

Here’s a selection of sites with different methodologies.  I’d like your opinion from the perspective of EHS & Sustainability managers who measure and manage every day.  Take a look at these sites and share what you found most surprising. Did ordering take-out three nights a week greatly increase your footprint – just like it did to mine? Did your utility usage count for almost nothing compared to the impact of your daily commute? Which sites are your favorites (NAEM definitely has a few!) and which ones will you share with your peers & family?

Finally, how do these calculators influence you as you’re revving up to buy & wrap your holiday gifts?


About Carol Singer Neuvelt

Carol Singer Neuvelt is Executive Director of NAEM. Her long-term perspective and insights into corporate EHS and sustainability best practices also have been featured in a variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, the Bureau of National Affairs, Environmental Leader, the National Safety Council’s Safety+Health magazine and Sustainable Life Media. She is the former Deputy Director for the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Public Liaison, where she managed the agency’s interaction with external stakeholders. Follow her on Twitter at @carol_neuvelt.

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  1. Kelvin Roth

    December 1, 2008

    Until I quit traveling for work, the other things don’t seem to matter

  2. Alan Palter

    December 1, 2008

    It’s an interesting question, and one that deserves our attention. I’ve always tried to focus our attention on measuring what matters (though for many reasons beyond carbon, there are items that we all need to measure). Also, there are items a company can “control,” and other items that may be MUCH more significant, but which the company can’t control. PLUS, some stakeholders simply “expect” that you will do certain things (i.e. paper recycling) even if it is far less “important” than things you are not yet doing.

    From some recent analyses I’ve seen, it makes more sense for my company to decrease employee auto commuting than it does to improve the energy efficiency of the building they work in.

  3. Nancy Neely

    December 4, 2008

    Yes, I found that retirement does help reduce the footprint. Minimum airflight now and mimimum auto usage, really cuts transportation energy usage.

    Carol, it was great that you put all the helpful internet sites together. Use of these website tools is a good way to encourage employees to analyze the impact of their individual activities toward commitment-support of ISO14001/Sustainability programs.

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