What is a Carbon Footprint

What is a Carbon Footprint? How Can We Calculate and Reduce It?

Carbon footprint reflects the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that an individual produces in his daily activities by burning fossil fuels for transportation, electricity and more.
Whenever we burn fossil fuels such as petrol, gas, and coal, to support our lifestyle, carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere. A carbon footprint is a measure of CO2 emissions that result from various activities of an individual during a given time period. It is the total amount of CO2 that your lifestyle produces. It indicates your impact on the environment through CO2 emissions. Environmental issues such as global warming are also linked to CO2 emissions. Modern lifestyle demands the usage of fossil fuels for transport, electricity and other purposes. In many countries, electricity is generated by burning coal. Driving a car burns fuel, which in turn releases CO2. All these factors are taken into consideration when calculating the carbon footprint of an individual.
How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint?
Carbon footprint is generally calculated over a period of one year. You can calculate your carbon footprint using a carbon footprint calculator. It is the easiest way to measure your impact on the environment. There are plenty of websites that provide online calculators and you don't have to pay a penny to use them. Websites such as 'carbonfootprint.com' and 'nature.com' offer carbon footprint tests.
The average carbon footprint of any individual includes the CO2 emissions from his car, home and air travel and everything he uses that contributes to his carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is usually expressed in tons of CO2. According to the latest reports, an average American produces around 28 tons of greenhouse gases in one year, mainly from transportation and energy used at home.
Carbon Footprint Calculator for Businesses
To access these calculators, simply go online and find out whether your business is environmentally friendly. Based on the results, you can take the necessary steps to decrease CO2 emissions. The calculator takes into account your organization's electricity bill and sector, before giving a rough estimate of your company's carbon footprint.
Calculate Automobile Carbon Footprint
Automobile carbon footprint can be calculated by first dividing the total number of miles traveled annually by the MPG (estimated fuel efficiency) of your vehicle. This amount is then multiplied by a factor of 19.564. To get the answer in metric tones, you need to divide the number by 2025. Buying a car that runs on E85 gasoline (fuel that consists of 85% ethanol and only 15% gasoline) can considerably reduce your vehicle's CO2 emissions.
Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint
Transportation
The way you travel everyday directly affects the environment. For traveling short distances, there is absolutely no need to use a vehicle. Walking or biking will not only reduce your carbon footprint but also keep you fit. Whenever possible, commute by public transport as it decreases the strain on the environment. Instead of using your own vehicle, take the bus, which is one of the best ways to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions (CO2). You need to service your vehicle regularly and ensure that the emission control system is operating efficiently. Check the fuel, oil, and air filters and replace them if required. The tires should also be properly inflated as it reduces fuel consumption. Following better driving habits such as accelerating smoothly, driving within the specified speed limit and maintaining a steady speed can go a long way in reducing CO2 emissions.
Food Carbon Footprint
An easy way to curb your food-related carbon footprint is to purchase vegetables and fruits grown locally. Prefer local shops as it will also save fuel. This helps minimize transport-related CO2 emissions.
Use Energy Efficient Appliances
CO2 emissions caused due to electricity usage can be brought under control by using energy-efficient appliances. Compact fluorescent bulbs require less electricity, so installing them in all light fixtures can save a lot of energy and help achieve an energy-efficient home. It has been observed that energy demands of certain home appliances increase over a period of time. For instance, as appliances like refrigerators get older, their performance decreases but the consumption of electricity increases. So it is better to replace them with new ones. Replacing air filters of air conditioners and heaters every 3 months can also help the environment. This is because clean air filters allow you to save on an average 350 pounds of carbon emissions. If possible, use a cloth line instead of a dryer to dry your clothes. Electronic goods like computers and televisions sap power, even after switching off the power switch. A better way would be to unplug these devices after usage. Using renewable energy products such as solar water heaters, can also save energy and reduce your carbon footprint.
Recycling
Recycling can also help reduce your carbon footprint. It is possible to achieve a smaller carbon footprint by recycling material like metals and paper. Waste material generated in the house can be recycled.
Carbon Footprint Activities for Kids
You need to encourage your children to do activities that help the environment. Eco-friendly activities such as planting trees, can make the environment cleaner and a better place to live. You can tell your children to grow a vegetable garden which is not quite difficult. Field trips and events that educate them about our environment can enable them to know why there is a need to take care of the environment. Eco-friendly projects such as hiking or making clay pots and baskets can also be organized.
The utmost priority of every individual should be to take preventive steps to decrease the impact of CO2 emissions on the environment, so that the generation to come will be able to lead a healthy life.
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