Carbon Footprint

While we can agree to “take only photographs, leave only footprints,” a large carbon footprint is not something anyone would want to leave behind.

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by any one person, group, or company. Your personal carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases that raise the planet’s overall temperature, such as carbon dioxide and ozone, that you have directly caused to rise into the atmosphere during your lifetime. Just because we cannot see these gases does not mean that they have disappeared.

Like ripples in water, our every action causes an opposite and equal reaction somewhere else in the world. When we choose to drive a car instead of riding a bike, we contribute additional carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Though one car ride may not seem like much, when you consider all of the car rides you’ve ever taken, and all of the car rides everyone else has taken and will take, you can see how it adds up.

On the plus side, imagine the positive impact we would have if we all made the effort to use fewer resources that contribute to climate change. Scientists say that the highest acceptable amount of C02 in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million, which we’re currently above. Our goal is to get below that number to avoid any number of catastrophes that could result from living on a hotter planet.

Greening Up

To reduce your carbon footprint, try:

  • Walking, biking, taking public transportation or carpooling
  • making your next vehicle a hybrid
  • replacing regular light bulbs with LED’s to use less electricity (which comes from burning coal, a fossil fuel)
  • hanging laundry out to dry in fresh air instead of using a machine
  • purchasing items and services that are certified “carbon free.”

Vampire Loads

“Vampire loads,” refers to the wasted energy sucked out by machines that remain plugged in while not in use. These may account for up to 70 percent of home energy use!

  • computers and printers left in “sleep” mode overnight
  • stereo and DVD players left in “sleep” mode
  • cell phone chargers and iPod players left in standby mode
  • electric alarm clocks in empty rooms
  • nightlights (switch to LED)

An added bonus, no need to worry about switching these off if there’s a thunder storm in the middle of the night, or while you’re away.

Diet Choices

The way we eat also has a tremendous effect on the climate. The livestock sector contributes far more to climate change than all transportation combined, so consider decreasing the amount of meat you eat, and choosing sustainably-raised, grass-fed meat that helps keep carbon sequestered under ground.

You can also help to offset some of your energy usage by purchasing units of alternative power such as solar and wind energy.

I encourage you to calculate your carbon footprint, and to explore other ways to offset your carbon usage.