What is your carbon footprint?

Ignoring all of the politicising of climate change and carbon emissions, have you ever actually wondered what a carbon footprint is?

A simple explanation

Human activity is increasing atmospheric levels of known greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. These form a blanket around the earth trapping heat, a process known as the ‘greenhouse effect’, which experts believe is linked to global warming and climate change.

The carbon footprint, as the term denotes, is the impression that these gases leave behind in our atmosphere. Estimating a carbon footprint seeks to highlight the volume of greenhouse gases produced by a particular activity or a product over its lifetime. Usually this is measured in terms of equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide produced. This general definition can also be applied to determine the impact of an individual, an organisation or company, or a country.

What size is your carbon footprint?

Pretty much everything we do has the potential to produce carbon dioxide – including driving a car and heating our home or workplace. Even the food we eat and the clothes and shoes we wear would have produced some carbon dioxide from being processed and transported to the retailer.

If you are concerned about how your actions are affecting the planet, there are a number of calculators available online to assess your carbon impact. Websites such as www.carbonfootprint.com and www.carbonpositiveaustralia.org.au have comprehensive free calculators that help you to understand your current position. Once you have this information you can take action to reduce your personal carbon footprint.

Steps to reduce your carbon footprint

Here are some helpful ways to get started:

  • Consider connecting your home and business to ‘green’ energy sources, such as solar power, wind, and biomass. Details of the ‘green’ products on offer across Australia can be found at www.greenpower.gov.au
  • Recycling paper, tins and plastic items makes a good impact. Swapping unused items, or reducing the number of items you purchase, can also lessen the load on Mother Earth (and help your budget too!).
  • Turn off power switches and appliances when not needed, use energy efficient globes, and have adequate home insulation to reduce electronic heating or cooling.

It’s quite simple really. Now you know what size your carbon footprint is, enjoy the process of reducing it and do your bit towards saving our amazing planet.

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