A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced, either directly or indirectly, through daily activities. These greenhouse gases are usually measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide, or CO2. A carbon footprint can be measured for an individual person, a household, a company or other group of people, or a state or nation. It is a small yet vital part of our larger, all-encompassing ecological footprint.
According to some experts, there are two types of carbon footprints. These are the primary footprint and the secondary footprint. The primary footprint refers to the activities we do that burn fossil fuels directly, or immediately affect the natural resources on the planet, such as driving a car, taking a flight in an airplane, heating our homes, plugging in an electronic device, or using water.
Secondary activities that affect the carbon footprint mostly refer to products we purchase, such as food and clothing or other products for our homes. The process of manufacturing the items, transporting the products to our locations, and, after we have finished using the items, the amount of time it takes the materials to break down and degrade all affect our carbon footprint. Even if you do not separate your activities into primary and secondary categories, they are all important and they all affect the environment. To determine your carbon footprint, there are free calculators online.
These carbon footprint calculators help you determine your carbon stamp on the world by asking questions about your energy use, the way you travel, the types of food you eat, products you buy, recycling habits, and some of the activities you do for fun, among others. Once you've determined your carbon footprint, you can begin to take specific steps to reduce your energy usage and encourage more sustainable, eco-friendly living. The carbon calculators can make specific recommendations.
In general, there are some important steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. To reduce the emissions from your vehicle, try to ride a bike or walk whenever possible. If you can, you might choose to carpool to work, or to ride the train or bus. Turn off lights when they are not in use, and if you can switch to an electric company that offers sustainable energy practices, such as wind or solar power, that can be an important change. Turn down the heat in your home and do not leave electronics plugged in to charge. Buying locally produced items, using reusable shopping bags and recycling are also important steps.