What is Carbon Footprint?
What does the term “carbon footprint” mean as it pertains to the environment? According to Wikipedia, carbon footprint is “the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product”. Breaking that down a little more, we could say that a carbon footprint is the level of impact one person has on the environment based on their activities. However, it’s not just people that cause greenhouse gas emissions, we must also consider, businesses, animals, products, etc..
How is One’s Carbon Footprint Calculated?
When it comes to calculating your carbon footprint, you have to take into account everything you do. Carbon footprint is usually measured as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are directly AND indirectly connected with your actions.
Direct Carbon Footprint-also called primary footprint is the direct emissions of greenhouse gasses that you produce when you burn fossil fuel for energy and transportation. For example, when you turn on a light to read by, watch the television, or drive your car.
Indirect Carbon Footprint-also called secondary footprint is the indirect emissions that are produced during the lifecycle of the products that you use. For example, when you buy a loaf of bread, you have to take into account everything that was needed to produce that loaf of bread and get it to your table. There is the making of the bread, collecting the ingredients, the packaging of the bread, the energy used to transport it to your local store. These are all considered in the calculation of the secondary carbon footprint.
If you want to know what YOUR impact is on the global environment, you can use a carbon footprint calculator. You can check your numbers here. After checking my personal carbon footprint, I found that I do better than the average American at producing fewer greenhouse gasses but I produce 3 times the world average.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?
There are a lot of ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Turn off lights not in use, walk or ride your bike for short trips, use compact fluorescent light bulbs, recycle and use recycled products, turn down the heat in the winter, eat less meat, buy locally grown food, are just a few of the things that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.
Why YOU Should Reduce YOUR Carbon Footprint
There is a lot of evidence that the planet we live on and call home is suffering from the effects of greenhouse gasses. If we don’t do anything to reduce our carbon footprint, if we wait for the government to make us do something, it may be too late. You may be saying to yourself “what can I do to make a difference, I am only one person?” You are right, you are only one person, but if just one person can make a small change in the way they live and reduce their carbon footprint even just a little and just one more person does the same, and just one more person follows along, I hope you can see that just one small positive act multiplied millions of times can produce enormous benefits.