18 July 2013

How To Measure Your Carbon Footprint

If you’re conscientious about being more environmentally friendly and living a greener life, then one of the things you may want to check out is your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint, as defined by carbonfootprint.com is “a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment.”  It is specific to climate change and the amount of greenhouse gases your day to day activities create. Here’s how to measure your carbon footprint.

Primary and Secondary Footprints

While your carbon footprint is a measurement of all greenhouse gases you produce, there are actually two measurements you can take a look at:

Your primary footprint – This is a measure of your emissions based on your direct use. For example, if you drive your car to the supermarket, you’re using fuel and having a direct impact on the greenhouse gasses you’re emitting. You have control over your primary footprint – you could walk or ride your bike to the store or make one trip a week rather than two or three.

Your secondary footprint - This is a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions from the products you use. For example, if you buy produce grown locally that will have fewer emissions than produce that was grown halfway around the globe and transported to your local market.

Calculating Your Carbon Footprint

There are several online tools you can use to calculate your carbon footprint. As you work your way through these tools they’ll ask questions like:
* How many people are in your family?
* What type of home do you live in?
* What state do you live in?
* How many bedrooms do you have?
* How much do you spend on electricity each month?
* How much do you spend on gas each month?
* How much do you drive and what kind of car?
* How often do you fly?
* How often do you eat organic food?
* How often do you eat meat?
* Do you recycle?
* Do you compost?

Here are some calculators you can use to measure your carbon footprint:

1 Degree
Carbon Footprint
Kids Carbon Footprint Calculator

Your Results

Your results will be given in tons, as in tons of carbon dioxide emitted each year. To provide some insight, for the year to June 2012, our national inventory emissions per capita were about 24.4 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per person, the world's biggest emitter per capita amongst major nations.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

A lot of what you can do to reduce your primary and secondary emissions are things you’re already familiar with:
* Carpool
* Walk when you can instead of driving
* Cut back on your home heating and cooling bill
* Turn off lights and electronics when you’re not using them
* Use cold water to wash things instead of hot
* Buy energy star appliances
* Buy local produce
* Recycle
* Travel less

Consider making it a goal, once you know your carbon footprint, to reduce it. Hitting the global average is surely a significant goal if you’re like the average Australian household.

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