On Oct. 12, a month-long community effort to cut back on carbon emissions will kick off in Davis.
“Davis Low Carbon Diet Challenge” will include eco-teams consisting of friends, family and co-workers whose goal is to lose 5,000 pounds of carbon by making more environmentally friendly decisions in their day-to-day lives.
The program is based on the book Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds that suggests ways to improve household energy efficiency, such as car pooling, reduced meat intake, recycling and reusing plastic bags.
“With the Low Carbon Diet book, you can see how many pounds of carbon you will reduce by hanging out your laundry or weatherizing your house,” said Elvira Paoletti, who is organizing an eco-team in Capay Valley.
The city’s sustainability program ran a successful pilot run of the low carbon diet last October by recruiting 100 households to participate, record their CO2 footprint and track their progress along the way. The brevity of the 30-day project made it easier for many households to commit.
Last year, an anonymous online survey conducted after the program showed that the program saved a total of 253,723 pounds of carbon.
For a town known for its agricultural friendliness and state-renowned farmers markets, Davis is a prime location for such a project to take place.
“I think Davis is great for this because there is a history of environmental action in the city – riding bikes, using solar power, et cetera,” Paoletti said.
Paoletti said the program is good for Davis because of the strong community-building element that the town is known for, centered around the farmers market, the co-op, the university and various churches.
In Davis alone, there are already eleven eco-teams on board, including schools, PTA members, faith-based groups and civic or environmental groups. Team members anticipate a successful 30-day run.
Gwynn Benner, a participant in the Davis LCD pilot, made healthy changes after participating in last year’s carbon challenge. The program eased the magnitude of a heavy issue like global warming, she said in a press release. Benner also said that she felt more connected to her community.
Professor for environmental science and policy Charles Goldman said it can be hard for individuals to get involved when they lack structure or don’t have the resources. He said that what often stops individuals from taking action is living in restricting conditions.
“In China especially, all the pollution has impeded them from making any real progress,” Goldman said.
Another factor in participation may be guilt.
“I think people are hesitant about talking about environmental issues because it’s one more thing they’ll feel guilty about if they don’t change,” said Christal Waters, organizer of the citizen group eco-team in Davis.
Paoletti said people hesitate to get involved in environmental advocacy because they don’t know where to begin. The project can provide people with structure to get started.
“This program makes it really easy to see where we can cut carbon output in our personal lives,” Paoletti said. “With a team, we inspire, supporting one another to make those changes.”
Morgan Anderson, a sophomore environmental sciences major, believes the program is a good idea for Davis.
“In general people here seem sincerely interested in progressive environmental conservation,” Anderson said. “The student population in Davis especially seems to sense the need for environmental action and I think they’d be enthusiastic to be part of this program.”
Anderson agreed that being unsure of where to begin is what impedes many individuals from helping out.
“Many people, in Davis especially, seem to sincerely care about environmental issues but may be unsure of how to adjust their lifestyle in order to make changes,” Anderson said. “They think it will be a labor-intensive commitment, when really it is often fun, educational, and most of all, rewarding to play an active role in environmental conservation.”
For more information, visit cityofdavis.org/pgs/lowcarbondiet, where visitors can calculate their carbon footprint and sign up to join an eco-team.
ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.