Cutting a few toes off my carbon footprint |

Cutting a few toes off my carbon footprint

Courtesy of Amy Bliss

I’ve never bothered to calculate my carbon footprint ” that measurement of the impact my lifestyle has on the environment based on the greenhouse gases I’m responsible for ” but I suspect the fact that I drive a full-size pickup doesn’t put me anywhere close to being “green.”

It’s not that I don’t want to be green, it’s just that, somehow in my mind, driving a car is filed away in the same category as becoming a vegetarian or buying tickets for Disney on Ice.

But beyond the truck, I do what I can to keep my footprint small. In my own little way, I’d love to think I’ll be leaving the planet a better place than I found it. I turn off the lights at home, keep the place cold when I’m not around and try to buy items that aren’t overpackaged. I don’t even have garbage pickup at my house because on most weeks I wouldn’t have even a kitchen bag’s worth of trash to put out. Instead I put it in my truck and drive to the landfill whenever needed, where I also drop off recyclables. Costs me $4 a trip.

But I feel a pang of guilt about the garbage I produce. Anyone who tries to keep their average meal prep time shorter than a commercial break is bound to have a lot of those plastic, single-serving containers in their trash, which take hundreds of years to break down.

I’ll work on that, but I’m happy to report that recently I took a big step in cutting a few toes off my footprint. I stopped buying bottled water. Yep, I’m living dangerously, drinking right out of the tap.

I just started thinking one day about all of those bottles. If I drink three bottles of water a day, in a year, that’s about 1,100 plastic bottles. Imagine the space that many bottles takes up, even if I crush them before throwing them away.

I’m not even going to go into the money I’ll save, but it’s pretty clear I’ll have hundreds of extra dollars of disposable income.

When I Googled “bottled water” it became readily apparent that I’m nowhere near the cutting edge on the issue: People have been preaching about its wastefulness for years.

Should people worry about drinking municipal water? You’ll have to decide that on your own, but in my view it’s not a problem. The water here is tested often and meets EPA standards.

Ken Arnold says the same thing, but of course you’d expect him to ” he’s the city’s utilities manager. But it’s a good sign that he drinks the city’s tap water.

There is arsenic in the water at low levels. The standards on that element have recently been tightened by the EPA, and several of the city’s wells exceeded the new standard (though arsenic levels in the water haven’t gone up ” it’s the same water people have been drinking for years). Those wells aren’t being used, however, and the city is taking measures to bring some of them into compliance so they can be brought back online. If you’ve got questions, call them in person at 887-2355.

The bottled water craze, in my mind, is based on a lot of unfounded fears, some of which I’d bought in to. For a time, I was even using bottled water in the coffeemaker. But you have to wonder if the bottled stuff is any safer to begin with. I remember covering a bottled water recall in Wisconsin years ago, and listening to the company CEO admit that the product was not “spring” water as described on the label, but ordinary tap water run through an additional filter before being bottled.

You’ll still see me drinking bottled water on occasion. Anytime I’m in a place where I might buy a soda, I’ll opt for water instead, but probably not without muttering “I can’t believe I’m paying a buck for a bottle of water.”

If you’ve never had an opportunity to attend a function at the governor’s mansion, I’m told that tonight is a good opportunity. The event is the Arts for CASA dinner and you can purchase $100 tickets at the door, beginning at 6 p.m. Dinner is at 7 p.m.

Catching up with Amy Bliss: Previously, I’d reported that the former Carson City resident, a class of 1999 alumni, is now in Bangkok, Thailand, where she is teaching first grade at an international school. She’s planning a volunteer mission to Cambodia over Christmas break with another Carson City native, Bryan Horgan, and asked for donations for school supplies and other items.

A new e-mail came Thursday from Amy: “We are counting down the days until we start on our journey to Siem Reap for the Christmas holiday. We were wondering if you would be interested in posting … pics of the kids at the school and maybe one of us to help readers get a better understanding of who we are and what we will be doing.”

You can find those photos by going to and clicking on this column. If you wish to help them with their charitable efforts, e-mail Amy at

Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. You can reach him at 881-1221, or via e-mail at