A term that has been steadily increasing in the common vernacular seems to have a bit of mystery surrounding it, as the term doesn’t really explain itself in a contextual way. The tern we’re referring to is ‘carbon footprint’. In this post, we’re going to explain the term more fully in an effort to help you understand what it is, and why it matters.
A carbon footprint can be broadly defined as the amount of carbon dioxide (or other carbon compounds called greenhouse gases) that is emitted into the atmosphere by the activity of an individual, group, product, or event. Each entity’s carbon footprint is assessed by the greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere as a result of transport, clearing land, and consumption of resources such as fuel, wood, food, roads, venues, materials, and services.
Combined, all of these have the potential to make a small entity’s carbon footprint massive relative to its size, which is why so much attention is paid to how sustainably we are obtaining and using our resources, and how it affects the rest of the world. Determining the carbon footprint of manufacturers, businesses, and individuals gives us the opportunity to reduce our impact on the environment based on the available information, and possibly even increase efficiency in the process.
Where do you fall on the carbon footprint scale? Take a good look at your lifestyle and it will probably be easy to estimate. For example, consider your transportation needs: Do you drive a car everywhere you need to go, or do you also walk or ride a bike? Do you utilize public transportation or carpool?
Your transportation needs are all comprised of energy (fuel), services (roads), and goods (maintenance and repair). Minimizing your consumption of these can reduce your carbon footprint tremendously, contributing to the reduction of the carbon footprint of your neighborhood, city, state, and so on.
Lifestyle changes don’t have to be drastic, and simply starting to reduce your consumption of goods is a great place to start. Here are some great ways to try to reduce your carbon footprint:
- Buy local. Buying local is always a great choice because less resources are necessary to get the food from the farmer or rancher to you, and you are helping to boost the economic gain of your own community.
- Use less energy. Cut back on household energy expenditures by using less heating and air conditioning, and using more focused methods of staying warm or cool. Look into clean energy programs that are offered by your electric companies.
- Buy what you need. Consider your purchases more carefully in terms of necessity, and waste that is produced from the packaging.
- educe, reuse, and recycle. It is true that one person alone cannot change the world, but individuals working together is how big changes get made.