How to Measure and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

As time passes, the scientific community and the world at large are becoming more and more aware of our actual impact on Planet Earth. While consumers and corporations alike become more educated about the benefits of recycling and safe disposal practices, it’s a bit tougher to figure out how our carbon output affects the environment – and just how much carbon we’re outputting to begin with. If you’re curious about what your carbon output is and what you can do to limit it, read on.

The Trouble With Carbon Emissions

As an element, carbon is not inherently harmful. It makes up a large part of our atmosphere, after all. To put it very simply, the issue with carbon comes from our use of fossil fuels. Things like oil and coal store a lot of energy that has been untapped for millions of years, a loss that over time the planet’s atmosphere has accounted for. But, when we use machines that burn this energy and release greenhouse gases, the carbon levels in our planet’s atmosphere become irregular.

While many say that we’re doing too little, the sooner we all start taking positive steps toward a more sustainable future, the better the chance we won’t have to deal with the potentially catastrophic events of climate change. It all starts by taking a look at our carbon output, also known as a carbon footprint.

Using Carbon Accounting to Measure Your Footprint

A misconception surrounding carbon footprint measurements is that they’re “measured” at all. While there are some cases in which carbon emissions might be measured on an individual basis, such as installing a device on a smokestack, in many cases, carbon emissions are calculated. For instance, while a car company may know how much carbon one of its cars emits per mile, there probably isn’t any device in your car reading your particular carbon output.

That isn’t to say that you can’t do your best to try to calculate your carbon footprint yourself. While you’d go crazy trying to get your total day-to-day carbon footprint measurements down to an exact figure, there are some websites that can help give you an estimate of your effect on the environment. The EPA, the WWF, and the Nature Conservancy all have website applications that ask a series of questions about your daily activities to provide you with a guess as to how much carbon you put out.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

If you find that your carbon output is staggering, or even if it’s at a respectable level and you’d still like to bring it down, there’s quite a bit you can do to make your carbon footprint smaller. The largest contributors to carbon emissions are electricity use and transportation. So, by making some small changes around the house, such as using more efficient bulbs and reducing your dependency on heating, you’re already off to a good start. If you’re able to walk, bike, or take public transportation instead of using car, you can rest assured knowing that you’re really having a positive impact on the world. You might get some good exercise, too.

Of course, there are many other things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, even going so far as to researching the products you buy beforehand to understand how much carbon emissions went into producing and transporting the materials needed to make the product. But, one of the most important things you can do is spread the word and lead by example. While one person taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint is great, the real change will happen when everyone is mindful of the actions they have on the planet.

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