Whether you’re working at your computer or cooking a meal for your family, there’s a pretty good chance you are increasing your carbon footprint. It can be tricky trying to connect activities with serious consequences such as pollution, but you need to know your carbon footprint so you can take steps to reduce it.

1. What Is a Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the total amount of Greenhouse Gases released into the atmosphere by an individual, a business, an event, a product or a service. Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases and others that you produce as you live your everyday life. 

The average U.S. per capita carbon footprint is 18.3 tons whereas China’s per capita carbon emissions are 8.2 tons. You can calculate your personal carbon footprint but wherever you stand, you can always lower it in all segments of your life.

Food

Livestock such as meat and dairy is responsible for 14.5 percent of man made global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from feed production and processing and the methane, which is 25 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a century, that beef and sheep belch out. Additionally, transporting food across the globe by truck, ship, rail or plane, uses fossil fuels for fuel and for cooling to keep foods from spoiling before reaching their destination.

Home

Incandescent light bulbs waste 90 percent of their energy as heat. Compact fluorescent light bulbs emit 80 percent of their energy as heat but they also contain mercury. LEDs use a quarter of that as they don’t heat up and they even last 25x longer. Working at your computer increases your carbon footprint and even more than if you are using a laptop as desktops have more parts and use more energy. Cooking increases your carbon footprint and so does using any appliance in your home.

Transportation

If you fly for work or pleasure, air travel probably makes up the largest part of your carbon footprint. Driving contributes as well as an average internal combustion engine car produces approximately five tons of CO2 emissions.

Shopping

Cheap items that go out of style quickly get dumped in landfills where they produce methane as they decompose. Such fashion items often come from China and Bangladesh, so shipping them requires the use of fossil fuels.

2. Tips on Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

While there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint such as insulating by putting up solar panels, there are many easy changes that require little financial investment.

Switch to a renewable energy provider

Contact your United Illuminating energy provider and inquire about their renewable energy options.

Forgo meat

Your diet should be at the bottom of the food chain and that means eating fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Every day that you forgo meat and dairy, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds—that’s 2,920 pounds a year.  

Reduce food waste

Reduce waste by composting and planning meals ahead of time, freezing the excess and reusing leftovers.

Conscious clothing

Buy less, but better as quality clothing will last. Even better, buy vintage, recycled or secondhand clothing.

Adopt energy-efficient habits

Switch the lights off when you leave the room. Unplug your devices when they are not in use to avoid phantom energy waste. Turn your water heater down to 120˚F as that can save you 550 pounds of CO2 a year. If you cannot afford a low-flow shower head that can save 350 pounds of CO2, just take shorter showers. Wash your clothes in cold water as the detergent will still do the work thanks to enzymes and by doing two loads of laundry per week in cold water, you can save up to 500 pounds of CO2 each year.

Takeaway – You cannot achieve a zero-carbon footprint. However, you can take steps to reduce it by living greener. Think of this way, by reducing your carbon footprint, you make the world a better place while benefiting your health and wellbeing.