How to Measure, Reduce and Offset Your Carbon Footprint

Imagine trying to go on a diet without understanding the concept of calories.  How would you know what to eat, how much to eat, or how long to workout? Luckily for us, scientists found a way to measure energy, and now we know how much energy we exert when doing various exercises and how much energy is provided in our foods.  Dietitians took this understanding a step further and have helped people lose weight by helping them burn more calories than they consume.

Many people want to reduce their impact on the environment, but don’t know where to start. We all know that the activities we perform everyday cause carbon dioxide to be released into our atmosphere, but few of us know how much carbon dioxide each individual creates or how to do to reduce it.

Your carbon footprint is the sum of all the carbon dioxide released as a result of your lifestyle over a certain period of time.  For example, when you drive, it’s the gasoline used by your vehicle that emits carbon dioxide. This is an easy-to-understand direct impact on your carbon footprint, but there are many indirect impacts that you may not consider that need to be accounted for to understand your total carbon footprint.  When you use a product, the carbon dioxide released during the manufacturing and shipping of that product are now a part of your carbon footprint. Once you know how much carbon dioxide you’re responsible for, it’s easier to know how much you need to do to lower your impact.

How to measure your carbon footprint

It’s not feasible to actually measure the amount of carbon dioxide released from your daily activities, just like it’s not feasible for you to measure the amount of calories in your candy bar.  Luckily, environmental scientists have created carbon dioxide calculators that can approximate your carbon footprint based on answering a few simple questions. If you’re interested in understanding your own carbon footprint, check out sites like CarbonFund.Org or the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator.

How to reduce your carbon footprint

The Energy Handbook is a great source of information on what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.  The articles and suggestions we’ve created will help you improve your home and change your behavior so that you consume less electricity.  Electricity generated by burning fossil fuels is a leading contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, so reducing your electricity bill is a giant step toward reducing your carbon footprint.  You should also try to reduce the indirect impacts by purchasing sustainable sourced products, eating less processed meat, and recycling the products you use.

How to offset your carbon footprint

The key to an effective diet is exercise.  Adding a workout to your daily routine burns calories, essentially offsetting the impact of the food you eat on your weight.  You can’t reduce your carbon footprint to zero without sacrificing every modern convenience, but you can offset the impact of the carbon dioxide you’re responsible for.  You can buy “Green” energy plans from your energy provider, which use Renewable Energy Credits to offset the energy generated by burning fossil fuels. You can purchase Carbon Offsets from organizations like CarbonFund.org that help fund renewable energy projects around the world.  And you can simply plant trees. Trees consume about a ton of carbon dioxide over their lifetime.

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