- Felicia Legge
Yes, It's Easy to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint!
Updated: Mar 25, 2022
We hear the term “Carbon Footprint” a lot these days. Just what does it mean?
Well, it’s in the name. When walking in snow or mud, we leave footprints behind and we can physically see those footprints we are making just right behind us, but what would a carbon footprint be then? Well, it’s not only behind us, it’s everywhere.
A carbon footprint is gas emissions we produce individually on a constant daily basis through the energy we consume in our homes, the fuel we burn in our cars, the money we spend on food, clothing, accessories, and anything that contributes to the burning of fossil fuels, and the waste we produce that compiles into landfills. Though all of that is everywhere in large numbers, it isn’t very easy to see, but with the right tools and methods to calculate how vast our carbon footprints truly are, we are able to find just how much that really is.
Calculate Your Footprint
There are several calculators available online which can help you determine your own household’s carbon footprint. I’ve been trying a few of these out.
Calculators and Resources for Students
Welcome to Inquiry to Student Environmental Action https://depts.washington.edu/i2sea/iscfc/calculate.php
This site has a great calculator for students and apartment dwellers as it highly focuses on public transportation, food consumption, and appliance energy usage. It includes a basic calculator for middle schoolers and an advanced calculator for secondary school and beyond. As a student myself, using this calculator, my total carbon footprint is 6.5 metric tons of CO2e. For homeowners and those that pay separate electric bills, one can get more specific about their energy use.
At carbonfootprint.com one inputs their actual energy usage for their home, the make and model of your vehicle(s) and miles driven, and also dollar amounts for most of the household expenses to arrive at a calculation. Doing this, a Hurley resident with a small private house, driving 8,000 milles a year, clocked in at 10.46 MTCO2e.
We got about the same number using this tool - https://www.footprintnetwork.org/ - without as much detail about housing costs or location. Details were available in some categories, but this tool was simple and easy to use with different types of housing AND it also provides information about your ecological footprint.
The EPA has calculators, too, and much more detailed info.
Remind me - Why are we calculating fooprints?
Because they are CARBON footprints - and all that CO2 is raising temperatures and is damaging in many ways, both subtle and obvious.
It's Important to Know Your Carbon Footprint
...because it can give you a better understanding of how many greenhouse gas emissions you produce individually. Hearing about them on a larger scale can make it a little harder to comprehend. By calculating how much energy you use in your home, how much when you travel, and what food industries you support, you are able to get a good idea of how vast your carbon footprint really is.
With that information and understanding, you've taken the first step into finding ways to reduce them. Instead of producing so many greenhouse gases by driving so much, perhaps you can find alternative ways to travel like carpooling, or taking public transportation. Turning how much energy you use in your home into numbers and measurements you can visually grasp, may encourage you to turn off lights in rooms you aren’t in, unplug chargers you aren’t using, and grab a blanket instead of turning up the heat. There are many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Take the first step and calculate your own.
Let us know your results and thoughts. What changes can you make to reduce your carbon footprint?