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What is a Carbon Footprint?

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We, as humans, have wreaked such havoc on Earth that we might face extinction. This is why the term carbon footprint was introduced. This encourages individual responsibility for taking care of the environment. This way, people do their part to help the planet.

Global warming and climate change are such major matters that one individual might think their effort alone wouldn’t matter. However, instead of searching for responsibility and shifting blame, all of us can take one step at a time to fix this problem.

Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint refers to the amount of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere as a byproduct of the choices and activities of a business, group, or individual. Actions are anything from making goods to the services everyone uses. These are the major sources of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases help warm the Earth more since they trap extra sunlight. Ultimately, this leads to climate change. If you look at it from a critical lens, a carbon footprint is nothing but a mixture of individual choices mixed with international business concerns. In a thriving economy, the buying and selling of goods are vital.

However, a negative byproduct of all this is carbon dioxide. After reading all of this, the summary is the more intricate connections a situation has, the more complicated its solution will be. So a normal person would be insignificant if they did something to change the situation. You just need to focus on three things:

National Footprint: 

This is the order of the highest impact. All governmental activities and laws are passed on the scale of a country. This includes laws on pollution, global warming, and climate change. There might also be policies on power plant operations, greenhouse gas emissions, and subsidies granted to companies performing carbon-intensive activities like coal mining.

Corporate Footprint:

The effect of business activities on the environment. This includes reduction targets, re-tooling production processes, and setting goals to be more environmentally friendly.

Personal Footprint:

Lastly, you have your contribution towards carbon emissions.

Personal Carbon Footprint

Fossil fuels have catalyzed climate change and led to global warming. Burning them releases vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Identifying large businesses as global warming contributors is important, but it’s also important to look at your impact on the planet. This is why we have compiled some activities attributed to an individual contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Food:

Food is one of the necessities of life and has a lot of carbon footprint. Most people buy food from grocery stores due to its convenience. These stores are partnered with large-scale farms.

The farms use synthetic fertilizers like ammonium nitrate to increase production quality and quantity.

These fertilizers produce a lot of greenhouse gases during their production, and many release nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas. When they’re applied on the field, food makes its way to your plate in a series of steps. However, transportation of this food takes the top position in greenhouse gas emissions as it undergoes several long-distance journeys by plane, cargo ship, and truck.

By eating local food, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Lastly, animal products like dairy and meat increase greenhouse emissions as high production rates are needed to meet consumer demand. This results in energy-intensive processes which release a lot of carbon emissions.

Waste Management:

The more trash you produce, the more your carbon footprint will be. This is because

trash services use natural resources and energy, such as fuel, timber, and water, to process that waste. If they don’t do this, this will result in major greenhouse gas emissions.

Water:

The basic necessity for any creature is also the one that is mostly wasted or misused. You should learn to limit water usage so that environmental sustainability is possible. Try to save water, limit your use, and not waste it.

Implement simple practices like using toilets and faucets with a low flow to use less water and switching off the tap when brushing your teeth. These are just some examples; you will find hundreds on the internet.

Energy:

Homes use a lot of energy as they have large devices like washing machines, refrigerators, and ovens. However, using less gas, reducing electricity use, shutting the lights off when not in use, and operating appliances only when needed will go a long way in saving energy. Even installing energy-efficient light bulbs can drastically lower energy use.

Flying and Driving:

Air travel has become common, and you will find cars everywhere. All of this releases a lot of greenhouse gases. Both cars and planes use fuels and burn them for their operation. The carbon content generated by them is high. However, you can opt for trains and buses, which use fewer fuels and release a lower percentage of carbon emissions, and if you want to go healthy, cycling is always an option with no carbon footprint.

Calculating Your Carbon Footprint

You can calculate your carbon footprint with calculators offered by governments and nonprofits organizations like:

Flight Carbon Footprint Calculator:

Helps you calculate your carbon emissions per flight and even lets you choose the class of the flight.

Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator:

Calculates the carbon footprint from multiple energy sources.

Environmental Protection Agency Carbon Footprint Calculator:

Calculates your carbon footprint through waste, home energy, and transportation.

Things To Consider In Calculation

Routine:

The basic thing you need to know about is your daily routine and how much carbon footprint that has on the planet. Some examples include:

  • Types of electronics in use.
  • Appliance use.
  • Types of food eaten or the frequency of eating outside the home.
  • The distance you’ve flown per day.
  • The distance you’ve driven per day.
  • Frequency of flights.
  • Public transportation use.
  • Type of car (electric, hybrid, or gas-powered).
  • The number of cars you drive.

If you monitor these things carefully and try to reduce their energy use, it will go a long way in helping the planet.

Country:

Countries have different energy needs, so they have different sources. Some will still depend on fossil fuels, while others will run entirely on renewables. This is why carbon footprint can vary from country to country. The global average is almost 4 tons, while America sits at 16 tons.

Home Size:

The bigger the house, the more energy will be needed to meet its needs. This can come from waste management, water consumption, or electricity. As a result, it will have a higher carbon footprint.

Household Members:

More people will use more waste management resources, electricity, and energy. Even if a small home has many people, energy needs will be high.

The Need For Reducing Carbon Footprint

Since we know climate change is real and if we sit idle, it will take all of us to extinction, it’s a good motivation to start acting for the betterment of our future and our planet:

Better Health:

When you start implementing the changes to your carbon footprint, you will start to feel healthy. Little steps can make big changes in your health. This only happens if you’re making active steps towards reducing your carbon footprint. Consuming food from processing or a less-than-ideal climate can be a danger to health in the long term, so cutting those off is a good thing too.

Money Saving:

You should also look for ways that will help you save money and help the environment at the same time. This will be your encouragement to do those tasks. Start small by unplugging devices when not in use, switching off extra lights, and having short showers. Also, search for smart home energy-saving devices to save you money.

Helping The Environment:

If the world proceeds at the same pace as today, 20-30% of species will be wiped out by 2050. Due to the melting ice caps and rising sea levels, most forests and trees will die too. Less oxygen will be generated, which will ultimately rise global temperatures. Increased climate change will give birth to more hurricanes and floods, ensuing massive property damage.

Decreasing Your Carbon Footprint

Your impact doesn’t have to be a big one to count. It can be small, but you must be consistent with it. Here are some ways to reduce your carbon footprint:

Using Solar Energy:

By shifting away from the source of most greenhouse gases, you can effectively curb your impact on the planet. A good way to do this is to try out solar technology, whose carbon footprint is almost zero. Using solar also saves you money and might even help you earn some of it.

Increasing Energy Efficiency:

If you want your home to save energy, try making it more efficient. You do this by:

  • Installing double-pane energy-efficient windows.
  • Adding insulation in your attic area.
  • Insulating your water heater.
  • Keeping the temperature of the water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Adding spray foam insulation to the walls.
  • Replacing cracked weatherstripping around windows and doors.

These steps will keep the air trapped inside your home so that you don’t use more energy to heat your home. It will also let the air conditioner and heater run smoothly and efficiently while lowering your energy bills and carbon footprint.

Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances:

When purchasing an appliance, look for the blue “Energy Star” symbol. This means that the device can be operated efficiently. Energy-efficient devices do their work quickly and correctly, saving you energy and time. They also reduce your carbon footprint and save money on utility bills. 

Reusable Water Bottle:

Most of us rely heavily on water, especially people who perform demanding daily tasks. So, opt for a reusable container instead of a plastic bottle for a change. This is important since the manufacture and transportation of single-use plastic bottles emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Try to go with a bottle that matches your personality, and you’ll be good to go.

Raise Awareness:

Once you’ve mastered your impact, be sure to spread the word because remember that you alone are part of a bigger change. Tell your friends and family the importance of their contribution and how the current crisis is a major one. You need to convince them that this is real and that they can do something about it. Only if they believe in it can they do something about it. Ultimately, this will help us reverse global warming.

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