Energy Diet


My name is Marta, and I am currently one half of a two-person household living in an apartment in Coimbra, a quiet and balmy college town in central Portugal. I practice as a medical doctor in the local University Hospital, teach in the local Medical School, and am concurrently working towards my PhD. I currently have a life expectancy of 50-odd more years, and hope I can live out those years in a greener, cleaner world; through this experiment, I am about to start working towards that goal.


Portugal Participants

Your Points Percentile:
Total Country Participants:

At Home (75%)

  • Changed thermostat
  • Changed settings on refrigerator, freezer, water heater and washer
  • Replaced at least one third of light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs
  • Disconnected electronic devices when not in use

Wild Card Items

  • Eliminated second freezer or refrigerator
  • Insulated water heater
  • Replaced appliances with green-certified products
  • Hung clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer
  • Sealed all of the windows and doors

Food (50%)

  • Ate a vegetarian diet one day a week
  • Cut down on take-away meals
  • Limited daily intake of beef to 8 ounces
  • Switched to sustainable seafood

Wild Card Items

  • Started a food-based garden
  • Ate vegan or raw for a certain number of days per week
  • Bought grass-fed beef instead of conventional
  • Gave up at least one processed food

Transportation (65%)

  • Drove no faster than the posted the speed limit, avoided rapid acceleration or braking
  • Removed extra weight from car, inflated tires
  • Used public transportation instead of driving
  • Reduced your planned air travel by one trip

Wild Card Items

  • Bought carbon offsets for travel
  • Carpooled or found a ride-sharing program
  • Invested in a more fuel-efficient car
  • My own action: Walked more routes

Waste Disposal And Reduction (59%)

  • Recycled all glass, aluminum, plastic, batteries and paper
  • Eliminated advertising mail
  • Changed to paperless billing
  • Eliminated the use of plastic and paper bags

Wild Card Items

  • Began composting at home
  • Used biodegradable bags for trash or walking the dog
  • Recycled or donated old athletic shoes and clothes
  • Recycled or donated old electronics

Water Use (45%)

  • Gave up bottled water
  • Turned off tap when brushing teeth, scrubbing dishes
  • Shortened showering time
  • Replaced shower head with a low-flow model

Wild Card Items

  • Used xeriscaping for yard
  • Installed a rain barrel to collect water for garden, lawn and plants
  • Installed a low-flow toilet

What You Buy (62%)

  • Tallied stats for water, electricity, natural gas and gasoline use
  • Switched to organic produce
  • Switched to eco-friendly cleaning methods
  • Switched to locally made (non-produce) products where possible

Wild Card Items

  • Cut use of disposable items
  • Repaired or extended use of clothing items
  • Stopped using wrapping paper for gifts
  • Changed Printing Habits
  • Rented or borrowed instead of buying infrequently used items
Total Points: 395

What I Have Learned

As we come to the conclusion of the Energy Diet, it’s time to look back on our efforts and try to identify the main take-home message for each one of us. Unexpectedly, through I have introduced several practical changes in the way I interact with my environment, I have mostly grown on an intellectual level…

Food From Nearby…

In our household, over time, we’ve been making an effort to buy as many locally produced (and seasonal) grocery items as possible, to reduce on packaging and transport-associated carbon emissions, as well as artificial growing conditions. While identifying the manufacturing place of primarily processed foodstuffs (such as dairy or breakfast cereal) is not always easy,…

I am a contact lens wearer, and have for the last 7 years or so opted for daily disposable soft contact lenses. I had previously used monthly disposables for about 7 years, and non-disposable (yearly) contacts for about 3 years. Therefore, I estimate I have gone through about 5,300 individual lenses over the course of…

1) Getting from A to B with less carbon emissions… Over the last week, I am happy to report that I was able to achieve my transportation-related goals, having relied mostly on carpooling and on replacing with bus trips two routes I would have usually have done by car (the exception was one day of…

A Frustrating Week on the Diet

1) My epic failure over the last week The last week and a half has been a bit frustrating for me in terms of the Energy Diet. I had set a personal goal of cutting down on my transportation-related CO2 emissions and, instead, I believe my carbon shoe size increased by a digit or two.…

Breaking a Bad Electricity-Use Habit

This past week, I’ve been mostly concentrating on cutting down on unnecessary electrical use, with the main targets of my energy slim-down being the TV and pointless background lighting. I’ve found that I have the bad habit of leaving the TV on between two programs that interest me while I’m in the room doing something…

An Introduction in Four Parts

One: On Dieting Dieting is hard. It takes a lot of effort, conscious thought and discipline, and you frequently find yourself falling into temptation. If your friends are not supportive, you are doomed to fail from the outset. But if all goes well, after a long and sustained practice it hopefully becomes second nature. And…