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Friday, September 26, 2014

Calculate & Offset Your Carbon Footprint!


Climate change, global warming, carbon emissions, carbon footprint and a whole bunch of other words you've probably heard people mention when worrying about the environment. What the heck is a carbon footprint, why does it need to be reduced, and how does one go about doing that, anyway?

Simply put, a carbon footprint of individuals, businesses, systems or other organizations is measured by its total emissions of greenhouse gas. The greenhouse gas total of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions are measured by using a GHG emissions assessment or carbon accounting


For example, an individuals footprint would be calculated by the appliances and electricity usage in their home, heating/cooling methods, water usage, type of food consumed, shopping practices / products bought, waste management, and transportation usage. 

Paper Mill 
Billy Wilson / CC BY-NC 2.0
Once the general footprint is known, and what areas are carbon intensive, strategies to reduce it can be brainstormed and put into action. These actions can include changing bulbs, appliances, switching to more eco-friendly products, using less gas fueled transportation / carpooling, eating less meat, shopping local, and of course, recycling and composting all available waste.

(Related Green Monger Article - Global Impact of Climate Change)

Carbon Offsetting lets you give back to the Earth the things in your carbon footprint you cant reduce fully. By making a donation to a specific cause that reflects your footprint, such as reforestation, litter pickup, eco-friendly building, etc, it helps you "break even" with your carbon emission. For example, if one of your activities only has a carbon emission of 480 pounds a year, helping 10 trees get planted would offset that emission. This is because one tree absorbs as much as 48 pounds of carbon per year.

While that is a very simple example (your emissions will be much more than that), check out these calculators and offset options to get an idea of how much pollution you produce, and the methods you can use to offset it.

FREE CARBON CALCULATORS AND OFFSETTERS

The Nature Conservancy
Calculate your Carbon Footprint for a year, and offset it with a donation to different causes.

CarbonStory
Carbon calculator for an individual or household. Also offset carbon emissions by making a small contribution to different eco projects around the globe.

Berkeley University's CoolClimate Network
Their calculator measures a households use to a small business.




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