What is the Carbon Footprint?

Updated: Sep 18, 2019


The carbon footprint is one of the simplest ways to measure the impact that a person leaves on the planet in their daily lives. It is a count of the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which are released into the atmosphere due to our daily activities or the commercialization of a product. The carbon footprint is the measure of the impact caused by human activities in the environment and is determined by the amount of GHG ( Greenhouse Gas) emissions produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide equivalent.


Each of us leaves a carbon footprint on the planet according to the consumption and type of habits we carry out day by day. The food we eat, how we make daily purchases, what energy consumption we do, what means of transport we use. The report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) this year, increases the likelihood that climate change is due to man up to 95%. In addition, from the 18 to 59 centimeters expected in 2007 that the sea level would rise at the end of the century, now these data shoot from 26 to 82 cm.


Depletion of Resources

Large carbon footprints deplete resources on large and small scales, from a country’s deforestation activities to one home’s increased use of air conditioning. The more those with large carbon footprints use resources, the more greenhouse gases increase and spur further climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that consideration of different energy supplies and conservation of current ones will be needed to balance energy demand. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions as much as possible and off-setting the remaining emissions by planting trees, for example, or supporting alternative energy efforts, will help to reduce the negative effects of carbon footprints.


Tips to reduce your carbon footprint:


1. Hang out the washing instead of tumble drying 

Hanging the washing out instead of using the tumble drier will save about 153kg CO2 a year - that's $68 USD each year, based on 150 cycles a year. 


2. Turn down the heating by 1⁰C

Reducing your heating by 1⁰C can reduce your energy consumption by 8%. For an average household gas bill of 12,500kWh this will reduce your CO2 emissions by 184kg - that's $55 USD each year.


3. Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need to boil

Only boiling the amount of water for your hot drink will save 72kg CO2 a year - that's $30 USD per year


4. Spend less time in the shower

Spending 1 minute less in the shower can save 23kg CO2 and $10 USD a year (based on one shower a day and a 9kW shower).


5. Turn electrical equipment off when not in use 

Fully turning off just one LCD TV (rather than leaving it on standby) for 18 hours a day will save about 5kg CO2 a year - saving $2.64 USD. Turn off all other electrical equipment when not in use to multiply the savings.


As well as your primary carbon footprint, there is also a secondary footprint caused by your purchasing habits.


- Don't buy bottled water if your tap water is safe to drink

- Buy local fruit and vegetables, or even try growing your own

- Buy foods that are in season locally

- Don't buy fresh fruit and vegetables which are out of season, they may have been flown in

- Reduce your consumption of meat

- Try to only buy products made close to home (look out and avoid items that are made in the distant lands)

- Buy organic produce

- Don't buy over packaged products

- Recycle as much as possible

- Think carefully about the type of activities you do in your spare time. Do any of these cause an increase in carbon emissions? e.g. Saunas, Health clubs, restaurants and pubs, go-karting etc.


Data from Carbonfootprint.com

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