You might have often come across the term “carbon footprint” and wondered what does it mean?
Well, according to the World Health Organization, this term refers to the measure of the carbon dioxide (CO2) which is generated by our regular actions and released into the environment as a result of burning fossil fuels.
Currently, one person in the United States has an average carbon footprint of 16 tons. In general, our daily activities directly or indirectly result in the emission of greenhouse gases. Hence the entire amount of these emissions is what is referred to as our carbon footprint. Starting from transportation activities to food & water use, energy consumption, and improper waste management accounts for higher emission of greenhouse gases.
A fossil-fuel-free future
Expressed in the form of weight equivalent to tons of CO2 emissions, the term “carbon footprint” was originally coined in the early 1990s by William Rees, Canadian ecologist, and Mathis Wackernagel, regional planner at the University of British Columbia. However, the term was popularized by the famous PR agency, Ogilvy & Mather, on behalf of British Petroleum sometime later.
It is to be noted that carbon footprint is different from the ecological footprint. While carbon footprint is the measurement of the emission of carbon dioxide, the ecological footprint is the measure of bio-productive space. So, the ecological footprint is an umbrella term.
About 200 countries from all around the globe participated in the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015 including the oil-exporting countries. All participating nations unanimously agreed to make efforts to reduce global warming and to keep the global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. Hence the focus of the world has now shifted to cease using fossil fuels before 2050 and completely switch to green technology.
How to calculate carbon footprint?
There are several carbon footprint calculator sites available online to help you calculate your approximate and exact role in contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases.
- The Nature Conservancy
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Conservation International
- ICAO Carbon Emissions Calculator
- Carbon Footprint Calculator: Tata Power
How to reduce carbon footprint?
If you have already taken the carbon footprint test and you are wondering how to reduce it, then here are some effective ways to do so.
- Avoid wasting food and reduce eating animal products and meat.
- If you want to do your bit in reducing greenhouse gases, then walk, carpool, use public transit, or switch to driving electric vehicles.
- Avoid flying frequently if you can take alternative routes of travel.
- Decrease your water and energy consumptions on a daily basis.
- Go with energy-efficient lighting and LEDs in your house.
- Recycle waste products or compost them.
- Purchase goods with minimal packaging.
- Buy electronic goods and products with a low carbon footprint.
- Unplug electronic devices when not in use.
- Harvest rainwater and use it as an alternative to groundwater.
- Switch to clean energy supplier.
A final note
Hopefully, now you can find your carbon footprint and follow the above measures to reduce it. To save our home planet, we all must take the necessary steps on each one’s part instead of just waiting for the governments and the bigger corporations to make the difference.