What has shocked me the most about the so called carbon footprint is the one we leave by flying. Some of you who read this blog are either car-free or more likely car-lite, that is you drive a fraction of the normal American Household Average of 21,252 miles annually.
With the US Fuel Economy average at around 20.8 Miles Per Gallon1 that means that the Carbon Footprint for that Family is 11,000 Lbs of CO2 annually.
Enter the Flight Emission Calculator
You pick two airports and the Calculator generates the CO2 Emissions for a one way trip, for example one way from Philadelphia International to San Francisco releases 983 Lbs of C02 per passenger. So when a family of 4 goes to San Francisco Round Trip the total carbon footprint for that household is 7,864 lbs.
There are other calculators that will give you a ballpark figure of your total carbon footprint such as the this one on the carbonindependent.org website.
By the way if you were to travel 21,252 miles on buses or trains annually (about 42 miles one way for a 5 day a week commuter) your carbon footprint would be around 2,100 lbs of CO2 and of course if you were to travel that distance on your bike that number would be zero and you would be in terrific shape.
1 EPA stats in the Detroit News
2 NHTS Report - Do More Vehicles Make More Miles