Historically, people categorized carbon footprint as the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused individually, during an event, and organizationally. It is equivalent to carbon dioxide. In other words, one can describe it as the amount of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere through human activity. A carbon footprint can be a comprehensive measure, including an individual, a family, a society, or an entire nation. A carbon footprint estimates the amount of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases that go into the atmosphere. They are, for instance, methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases.
How can I calculate my carbon footprint?
Calculating one’s carbon footprint can be challenging. But there are online measurements that can give you a rough idea about it. It usually comprises these elements. They are the size of the household, efficiency in your house appliances, how much you drive and fly, what you eat, and what you recycle. These are not exact measurements, but they can guide you to get a rough amount. Calculating how much carbon dioxide each activity releases to the atmosphere is an excellent way to start. Then, you can calculate approximately how much carbon dioxide emanates from your household and activities. It is easy to take steps to reduce polluting the environment when you know what your actions do to the earth.
How do my daily activities release greenhouse gases?
It is an individual and his or her activities that make a society, and then an entire nation. For instance, driving to the grocery or supermarket burns a certain amount of fuel. The primary sources of greenhouse gases are fossil fuels. The supermarket also operates with electricity. The employees in the store probably drive to work. There, society forms, emanating greenhouse gases usually, most products in a supermarket, ships down to the country. Shipping them across the sea, releasing CO2, and other greenhouse gases add to the total carbon footprint. This is how human activities connect to each other and release a great deal of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Ways to reduce the carbon footprint
Everything starts with an individual decision to make a change. Once you have understood the effects of your activities on the earth, you should take steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from your daily activities. Slowly, the others around you would do the same, eventually making a difference in the entire society. It also starts with one person deciding to change and help the earth. Here are some of the easiest ways you can reduce your carbon footprint from your activities.
Eating low on the food chain
The food we eat has a lot of effect on the entire amount of greenhouse gas emissions. One of the best ways to reduce it is to go low on the food pyramid. This means consuming a lot of vegetables and fruits and limiting meat, dairy, and every other food item going upwards in the pyramid. Livestock and its processing are responsible for more than 14.5% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. A family can reduce the carbon footprint by eight pounds a week, at the least, by eating fruits and vegetables. You can choose organic food and local fruits and vegetables that are in the season. Transporting food from far takes a transportation method. Most of these methods cause greenhouse gas emission, and the cooling to keep the food from spoiling causes it more.
You can also buy food in bulk and store them, instead of driving to the store frequently. Another productive way to reduce greenhouse gases in the household is to reduce food waste and compost them without throwing them away.
Watch your clothing
Trendy, fast fashion clothing goes off the market as fast as they come. And most of the clothing items that go out of fashion quickly end up in landfills. As they decompose, methane emanates, causing the carbon footprint to go bigger. You can opt for clothing styles that stay in fashion for a long time. Also, there are places that sell vintage and recycled clothing. In this way, you would not be contributing to the greenhouse effect. Choose cold water to wash your clothes instead of warm water. You can reduce carbon dioxide emissions up to 500 pounds each year, just by washing two loads of laundry every week in cold water, and not warm water.
Buy less stuff
Shopping is highly addictive to many. In fact, shopaholics shop for no reason, contributing a lot to the greenhouse effect without their knowledge. BUY LESS STUFF! It cannot get simpler than that. You can also take your own reusable bag when you go shopping and avoid plastic and polythene bags from shops. For instance, if you go shopping for a computer, opt for a laptop instead of a desktop. Laptops take less energy to charge and operate compared to desktops. If you go shopping for electric appliances, choose the energy-saving ones, so you do not have to charge them frequently.
Building good habits at home
Now and then, conduct an energy audit in your home. Calculating how much energy you spend daily would help you to identify if you are wasting energy. One of the main tasks you can do is to change the incandescent bulbs to LEDs. Incandescent bulbs are 90% heat and release carbon dioxide. When rooms are not in use, switch the lights off and unplug the electronic devices when you are not using them. Water heaters can add a lot to your carbon footprint. Turn the water heater off when you are not using it, and when you are using it, reduce the heat to 120oF. During summer, use fans instead of air conditioners as they consume more energy. These are easy and simple ways to reduce heat energy and the emission of carbon dioxide from your home.
Electricity comes from natural and renewable energy. An average car produces around five tons of CO2 each year. It may vary according to the type of car and how the driver drives it. But making changes in your transportation methods can cut down a lot on your carbon footprint. Whenever possible, walk to your destination or share the ride with others who are going to the same place. You can also use public transport or use a carpool. But if you must drive your own vehicle, make sure you accelerate and brake less. Aggressive driving can cause more carbon dioxide to emanate than calm and steady driving. Apart from making changes in your transportation methods, you can also keep your own car in proper condition. Maintaining your vehicle is essential. Keeping your tires adequately inflated can reduce fuel consumption and perform better. Combine your daily errands, so you do not have to drive often.
Air travel is responsible for the most significant carbon footprint. If you can drive rather than flying, choose driving because it emits few greenhouse gases compared to flying. Another note to remember is the flying class. The economy class shares carbon dioxide emission among passengers. Business and first classes release more than nine times the amount in economy class. All in all, air travel is one of the most significant ways that emanate carbon dioxide and fossil gases to the environment. Therefore, refrain from air-traveling as much as you can, as it can reduce the number of greenhouse gases that you release.
Final thoughts: Reducing your own carbon footprint can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Individually, each of us is responsible for releasing greenhouse gases to the air in one way or another. People often do not realize that their activities cause a lot of greenhouse gases to go to the atmosphere. Therefore, without our knowledge, we all are contributing in our own way to increase global warming. This individual contribution is what we call the carbon footprint. Curbing our day-to-day activities can have a massive positive impact on the atmosphere. The modern technology is made in such a way to consume a lot of energy and emanate greenhouse gases. But there are still better options such as hybrid vehicles, to choose from. When selecting your house appliances and electronic items, you should watch for the amount of energy it requires.
We cannot get the exact amount of carbon dioxide we release to the environment. But we can control our activities and adopt more environmentally friendly ways to curb the amount of carbon dioxide we release. It may seem like a challenging step to take when it comes to controlling our activities, especially with modern technology we have. But we have to understand that in the long run, we are polluting the earth in many ways. If there is one person who can reduce it, it is YOU! Therefore, it is vital that we harness everything we know to adopt a lifestyle that does not release carbon dioxide to the environment. Since it is next to impossible, we should at least try to control the carbon footprint individually. Save the earth! Save tomorrow!
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