My May 2020 Carbon Footprint

Though my carbon footprint in May was almost another record low since I started tracking, as states reopen my wanderlust has returned with a vengeance.

And I don’t know what to do.

The Numbers: My May 2020 Carbon Footprint in Detail

Note: These numbers are all estimates. Take them with a large grain of salt.


A screenshot from YNAB, a financial budgeting software I’m repurposing to track my carbon footprint.
  1. May 2020 total: 829.1 lbs CO2e
  2. Year-to-date total: 5,791.7 lbs CO2e


I have a little over 7 tons remaining of my 10-ton carbon budget for 2020.
  • Remaining 2020 carbon budget of 10-ton allotment: 14,208.3 lbs CO2e
  • Adjusted per-month allotment: 2,029.76 lbs CO2e
  • Adjusted per-diem allotment: 66.39 lbs CO2e

By Category

Transportation (16.4%)

  • Driving: 135.65 lbs CO2e

Housing (18.6%)

  • Electricity: 0 lbs CO2e (thanks to our renewable energy contract!)
  • Water: 145.56 lbs CO2e
  • Natural gas: 8.89 lbs CO2e

Food (40.9%)

  • Food: 339 lbs CO2e

Goods, Services, & Leisure (24.1%)

  • Furniture & appliances: 36.67 lbs CO2e
  • Personal care & cleaning: 13.33 lbs CO2e
  • Information & communication: 91.67 lbs CO2e
  • Other services (e.g. car insurance): 58.33 lbs CO2e

Successes: What Went Well & Why

For the past two months, my carbon footprint has been less than half my monthly footprint at the start of the year.
  • I went on a road trip with friends, and because of carpooling it ended up being pretty low-carbon. Four friends and I drove to Asheville for the weekend, a nearly four-hour drive from Atlanta. Because five of us carpooled in a fuel-efficient car, according to OffCents the driving emissions for the entire trip totaled under 60 lbs CO2 per person.

Challenges: What Didn’t Go Well & Why

  • My wanderlust returned with a vengeance. The hardest part of this lifestyle so far has been staying put. It’s been easy to deny myself car trips and plane flights for a time — and quarantine has made it necessary these past few months — but my itch for adventure still remains. I’ve yet to find easy, low-carbon ways to scratch it beyond carpooling on road trips.
  • I decided to stop tracking everything I eat and instead use a monthly estimate for my foodprint. Tracking my food emissions started to become incredibly tedious after four months. It involved recording everything I ate and using LiveGreen or a food carbon footprint calculator to estimate its emissions. About halfway through May I decided to switch to a fixed monthly estimate for simplicity’s sake. Moving forward, I’m going to estimate my monthly food emissions at 350 lbs CO2e. That’s about 10% above the monthly average from the first four months of the year, so I’m overestimating slightly. (I applied a prorated rate for the remainder of May.)


3 Tips for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Here are some tips I picked up in May:

  1. Keep your road trips “low carbon” by carpooling with friends and visiting nearby destinations. The ONE easy way I’ve found so far to travel while not ballooning your carbon footprint is to take short road trips with friends. Better yet, take the car with the best gas mileage.
  2. Try out a meal planning service like PlateJoy to make eating plant-based easier. As someone who’s somewhat new to eating plant-based, I struggle to plan out meals for the week. Some weeks I don’t have time to plan and default to old eating habits. I’ve been using PlateJoy for the past month to help with meal planning, and it’s made it a lot easier to eat plant-based.
  3. Use Strava to help build the habit of biking. Strava is an app for tracking your fitness activities, such as bike rides. I downloaded it in May and followed a friend who also used it. I soon found that, because of the social nature of the app, I was instantly more motivated to bike. In fact, I even signed up for a challenge to ride for a whopping 15 hours in May. I finished with a day to spare. 😁

Biggest Lesson Learned

The hardest part of reducing my carbon footprint has been denying myself the joy of travel, whether it be a weekend road trip or a flight to see my best friend.

I know myself too well. I’m just not that disciplined. Moderation has lasted me this far, but to sustain these carbon reductions, I NEED to find more low-carbon ways to travel.

If not, my wanderlust will get the best of me.

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Alex Beale
Alex Beale
Hi, I'm Alex. I started Footprint Hero to help people reduce their environmental impact. My current obsession is DIY solar power projects, which I've been building since 2020.
Alex Beale

Alex Beale

Hi, I'm Alex. I started Footprint Hero to help people reduce their environmental impact. My current obsession is DIY solar power projects, which I've been building since 2020.

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