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Do you know how big your Carbon Footprint is?

What is a Carbon Footprint?

Your carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases your actions cause to be released into the atmosphere. You can think of it as the relative contribution that you’re making to climate change. A carbon footprint can be calculated for an individual, a household, a business or even an entire country.

Why would you want to know your carbon footprint?

Being aware of your footprint is valuable information for helping in the fight against climate change. You can use it as a tool to see where your lifestyle is having the biggest impact on the environment, and where you can make positive changes. Reducing your footprint is good for the environment, as a bonus it can also be good for your health and wallet!

Here are Carbon Footprint calculators you can use,

For yourself,

For your business,

For a product,

For your household

 For your diet.

How is your carbon footprint calculated?

Everything you do influences your footprint. You can directly increase it through actions like burning fossil fuels. So, someone who drives to work will have a larger footprint than someone who cycles. You can also indirectly influence your footprint through the products you buy. Everything has an associated carbon price tag. If you choose to buy a piece of fruit from the supermarket, your footprint will be increased by a certain amount. This will be based on the gases produced in order to grow the fruit, store it and transport it to the supermarket.

You can see how calculating your footprint can quickly become a complicated process! Scientists are constantly developing algorithms to better estimate how much CO2 is produced by different activities. These are very complex equations. They are also overkill for most of us! Luckily, there are plenty of websites that can help you work yours out based on simple questions.    

What do the results mean?

CO2 is the leading cause of climate change. Other greenhouse gases – like methane and nitrous oxide – are included in your footprint but they are converted to equivalent tons of CO2 released per year. This gives you a single number that accounts for every aspect of your life. The lower the better when it comes to fighting climate change!

Why don’t all footprinting websites give the same value?

When building calculators, developers want to make them simple to use. For this reason, they will make some assumptions about your activity. For example, they might ask you how many people live in your household, and then estimate how much CO2 you’ll produce heating your home. Different calculators will have different estimates. This means they won’t output the same number.

Choosing a calculator that’s right for you will give you a good idea about your footprint and, more importantly, a way to keep track of your progress as you trim it down to size! You should bear in mind that they may not be 100% accurate – but they’re a good place to start!

How Can You Reduce Your Footprint?

At Home

Reducing the amount of electricity and gas you use at home will lower your carbon footprint and bills at the same time! Being energy aware is key to keeping your home’s footprint under control. Simple actions like switching off lights and electronics when you leave the room can have a big impact.

Switch to Renewable Energy. Switching to alternatives away from oil-based energy is a good start! A lot of people are catching on and there re providers in the UK that are leading the way!

Smart metres are a good way to monitor your progress. Making sure any appliances you buy are energy efficient will also help with this. Making sure your home is well insulated will mean you burn less fossil fuels keeping warm. 

Source: Scottish Power

In the Supermarket

Producing meat releases far more greenhouse gases than fruit and vegetables. You don’t have to turn full vegan to keep your footprint under control

Plant-Based Alternatives? Swapping out the steaks and dairy for plant-based alternatives in a couple of meals per week can have a real positive impact on the environment.

Locally Produced Foods. Foods that are produced locally don’t require as much transport so they add less to your footprint. Keep an eye out for locally grown foods – you can also help support local businesses by doing this!

Growing food and reducing your waste is also great for reducing your carbon footprint!

Source: Pexels from Pixabay

On the Road

Leave your car at home. Globally, transport is one of the largest contributors towards greenhouse gas emissions. Leaving the car at home and using alternative transport like trains, buses or bikes will take a chunk out of your carbon footprint.

Choose eco-friendly cars or drive responsibly. When you have to drive, keeping your car serviced or choosing a more energy efficient vehicle will mean you burn less petrol and produce less CO2.

Less Flying. Unfortunately, flying can really increase your footprint. Thinking of alternatives like taking the ferry or train for your getaways can help you keep your footprint under control.

Source: matthew Feeney on Unsplash

Article written by Daire Carroll