What is a Carbon Footprint?April 4, 2018
The phrase carbon footprint is bandied about often in our world in respect to the environment and fossil fuels. In fact, the phrase is often grossly overused and misunderstood to the point that many people don’t actually know what it means and how they impact it on a daily basis. So, let’s take a look at what carbon footprint really means and how you can become more conscious of your own personal footprint.
What Is A Carbon Footprint?
Simply put, the term footprint is really a metaphor for the amount of impact we have on something. The word carbon is really referring to all the different greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Therefore, a carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases produced, (either directly or indirectly), that are released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity like driving, flying, or using your computer. This is mostly referring to the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but also includes: methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases.
The phrase carbon footprint is usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted per year. For example, each gallon of gasoline fuel consumed emits 8.7 kgs of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Multiply that by the number of gallons you use yearly and you get your carbon emission for merely driving, never mind the multitude of other ways that individuals add to their personal footprint.
How Can I Calculate My Personal Carbon Footprint?
Although calculating one’s individual carbon footprint can be difficult, online calculators can do some of the work for you.
These online calculators may give you a rough estimate of your carbon footprint based on the size of your household, the efficiency of your appliances, how much you drive or fly, what you eat, and how much you recycle.
While these calculations are far from perfect, they can give individuals a pretty good measure of which activities are generating high (CO2) levels and what steps can be taken to reduce your personal carbon footprint.
How Can I Reduce My Carbon Footprint?
- Maintain your current vehicle so that the emissions are within state and federal requirements or, better yet, invest in an electric, solar, or hybrid car to emit low or no emissions.
- Use energy efficient appliances and read the manufacturer’s directions on the best ways to get the most efficiency out of each appliance.
- Add insulation to your home, seal up openings and gaps in windows, doors, or vents or, better still, invest in a programmable thermostat to control the amount of heat/air conditioning use in your home.
- Consume foods that do not require long distance hauling, such as locally grown foods.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle plastics in your home, as they require high levels of carbon emissions for production and cause massive pollution in our landfills and oceans.