Knocking Out CO2 to Save the Planet

The Carbon Cutting Board team from South Forty  |  photo by Tamra Peters of Resilient Neighborhoods  |  post by Christina Leimer

Have you heard of the Floating Carbon Knockouts? To mix metaphors, instead of a batting average, they earn resilience points. Instead of counting runs to win the game, they tally the amount of CO² they keep out of the atmosphere.

The Knockouts are a local Resilient Neighborhoods (RN)  climate action team.

When East Pier climate activist Wilford Welch was searching for a way to engage people locally in what often feels like an overwhelming issue—reversing climate change—he found the RN program. Through it, teams of 7-10 households meet five times over 10-12 weeks. In each two-hour session, facilitated by RN staff, team members learn simple ways to reduce waste, conserve water and alter shopping habits. They learn to calculate the amount of CO² household activities put into the environment. And they earn resilience points, which quantify sustainability.

In addition to attending the 10 hours of meetings, participating on an RN climate action team takes about 1 ½ hours of meeting prep time and there’s a $40 charge for the workbook. That cost is refundable if you return the workbook after the class.

“It’s set up as a team activity, so it feels like a game,” Wilford said. He and his wife, Carole Angermeir, organized the Knockouts. “There’s no pressure. Everyone contributes what they can to an overall CO² reduction goal the team sets.”

In addition to reducing carbon, RN tries to build community. In fact, their motto is “Less Carbon. More Community.”

“You can reduce carbon by 25% without heavy lifting,” Wilford says, “just with small changes in everyday tasks.” The changes are mostly a matter of making different choices; for instance, buying grass-fed beef rather than beef produced by the more energy-intensive commercial feed lots. Buying locally produced products rather than products shipped from around the world and repairing items you own rather than buying new ones helps too.

The Knockouts’ goal is to reduce their household carbon by 25%.

Is that a lot of carbon? The Carbon Cutting Board team from South Forty Pier, organized by Flo Hoylman, reduced CO² emissions by 96,000 pounds, “the equivalent of taking almost 10 cars off the road” according to the RN website. Overall, 1,382 Marin residents have participated in the program and reduced more than 7 million pounds of CO² emissions annually. The website says, That’s like taking 1,020 Marin homes off the grid permanently!”

“My goal is to get all the houseboats in Sausalito on the program,” Wilford says. “It’s practical, effective and fun.”

If a little friendly competition is your style, take a look at RN team results by municipality. From Sausalito, 40 people from 22 households have reduced 363,040 pounds of CO². That puts us in about the middle of the pack. Mill Valley teams have reduced about twice that amount. But hey, we’re ahead of Tiburon and Belvedere.

If you’re interested in joining a team, there’s one starting January 21 at the Sausalito Library that runs through March 17. It meets on Tuesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Or you can form your own team. Just contact RN through their website and they will help. There are a lot of climate action resources on the RN website too, if you prefer to do it your own way.