How To Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

Today’s guide will walk you through everything you need to know about carbon footprints, as well as how you can calculate your carbon footprints. Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of today’s post.

The discourse about climate change is gaining momentum every day as different countries and organizations try to figure out ways to address the real problems confronting our dear planet. And in case you don’t know, climate change is a tad overwhelming. First, the science behind climate change is complex, especially as the world tries to understand the future impacts of climate change. 

Sure, the real solutions to addressing climate change will require corporations, commitment, and tangible actions on a global scale; still, we all can play our parts by making intentional choices to lessen our impact on the environment. 

Understanding Carbon Footprint 

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions (including methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and fluorinated gases) that are generated by our actions through our use of various products and services, which involve the emission of any of the gases mentioned above. 

From direct emissions such as cars, the energy usage in homes to train and air travels, many human activities can contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. That said, the United States, with only 4% of the world’s total population, reportedly contributes nearly 25% of the world’s total greenhouse gases. Furthermore, the global average amount of carbon footprint per person is close to 4 tons. In the US, these figures are over 16 tons per individual which is the highest in the world. 

As of the time of writing, the major contributors to carbon footprints include electricity, food, transportation, consumption, and household energy. While food remains a significant contributor to carbon footprints, especially meat, electricity generation, and transport-related activities contribute the most to our carbon emissions.

Also, very recently, the blockchain industry is a growing contributor to the rise in carbon footprints, and that’s because of the enormous amount of energy needed to mine cryptocurrency. This is severe with networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which use an operational protocol (called Proof of work) that consumes a lot of energy. 

According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index released by Digiconomist, the number one cryptocurrency by market cap produces nearly 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually. This brings it close to the carbon footprint of New Zealand. 

Thankfully, there have been tangible technological moves in the crypto space to replace protocols like Proof of work with more efficient ones like Proof of Stake (PoS) and other variations of PoS, which cut the number of carbon footprints generated in this industry significantly. 

At the moment, the Binance smart chain, Cardona Polkadot, and several other fast-growing chains use this technological alternative (that is, PoS), which contributes less than a percent of the greenhouse emission from Proof of work networks. 

That being said, to counter the effects of carbon footprints on our environment and avoid a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the world needs to be intentional about reducing the average global carbon footprint generated every year to around two tons by 2050. 

Even though lowering individual footprints by, say, two tons wouldn’t happen overnight, however, by making small and consistent lifestyle changes such as driving less or taking fewer connecting flights, we can start making a big difference in protecting the planet we all love. 

If you’re serious about contributing your quota to reducing carbon footprints and stopping global warming, you need to measure and keep track of your carbon footprints first before curbing the emissions. This is where carbon footprint calculators become helpful. 

Calculating your carbon footprint

Calculate your carbon footprint

Even though you may not be able to get the exact figure as far as your carbon footprint is concerned, using the parameters imputed in a conventional carbon footprint calculator, you can at least arrive at a close estimate.

Overall, carbon footprint calculators track one’s carbon emissions within parameters like your diets, commute to work, household size, distance covered while driving and flying, and more.

That being said, the major parameters to have in mind while computing your carbon footprint via a calculator. Also, these pointers where been computed in the web calculator Footprintcalculator.org, which is one we recommend. There are also some other great ones out there that you can check out. That being said, let’s dive right in.

Your food choices

The types of food you eat contribute a great deal to your carbon footprint. For instance, if you often eat domesticated animals, you’ll have a much higher carbon footprint than someone that doesn’t eat meat or consume animal products. 

  • If you consume domesticated meat daily, then in this category, you have a very high carbon footprint.
  • If you eat meat a couple of times per week, it is considerable but not as high.
  • If you don’t eat any meat, but other processed animal protein sources, like eggs, then it is not as high as the former points.
  • If you’re a vegan or only consume wild meat, then your carbon footprint is significantly low.

Finally, based on the calculator recommended above, the carbon footprint computation is calculated based on diet type (as in vegan diet to animal protein consumption) and food production processes and energy required for production. 

Checking your housing and household carbon emissions

Most of the energy we consume and carbon we emit is done in our homes. From electricity used in lighting up the homes, TVs running water, gas cookers and so on. Also, for someone who lives alone, your carbon footprint will be a little higher than someone who shares an apartment with other people. And the reason is that you’ll be sharing water, electricity, and fuel costs to keep your household running. 

Now let’s take a look at the size of your home, as in the number of occupants and the size of the building. A smaller home has less impact on the environment. To this end, you must factor in the size of your home when calculating your carbon footprint. 

  • Freestanding home, no running water
  • Freestanding home, with running water
  • Multi-story apartment.
  • Duplex, row house, or building with 2-4 housing units
  • Luxury condominium

Another important category of household carbon footprint emission is the material used for household construction. This can be classified into the following categories:

  • Straw/bamboo
  • Wood
  • Brick/concrete
  • Adobe
  • Steel/other.

Household electricity consumption

This begins with establishing if electricity is consumed in a household in the first place. If you’re reading this from a PC or mobile device from any part of the world, it’s certain you use electricity on some level. However, what may vary is the rate of consumption. A good judge will be to take cognizance of the appliances which are being used. Footprintcalcutor.org splits the household energy efficiency into four categories as follows:

  • Very inefficient: poor insulation, few LED lamps, heating/cooling systems used often.
  • Below average: inefficient lighting and standard appliances
  • Average: modern appliances, with climate control.
  • Above-average: well-insulated, efficient lighting and appliances, with careful use of electricity
  • Efficiency-centered design: this includes passive heating/cooling, advanced temperature control and ventilation, and low electricity use.

Also, with the rise in renewable energy sources for household electricity usage, carbon footprint calculators factor in the extent of renewable energy sources used in one’s household.

Considering the waste, you produce 

If you have a full trash every week, then expect to have a larger carbon footprint. To get this spot on, you’ll need to calculate how many times your garbage can gets filled up every week. Once you know this, you can assign points accordingly. 

The calculator used for this guide weighs the carbon footprint based on waste relative to what a neighbor uses, even though it’s not an accurate parameter.

That being said, on a scale of 1 to 100, a rule of thumb to ascertain your carbon footprint assessment can be measured as follows: 

  • If you usually exhaust four garbage cans every week, score yourself 50 (which is somewhere around average)
  • For three garbage cans, score yourself 40
  • For two garbage cans, score yourself 30 
  • For one garbage can, score yourself only 20
  • If you only fill half of your garbage can or less every week, score yourself five.

Factoring in transportation into your carbon footprint aggregation

Airplane

Since transportation is one of the significant contributors to carbon footprint, you’ll need to factor in how far you travel along with your mode of transportation. With most carbon footprint calculators, this is evaluated by means of transportation and distance covered.

Also, the carbon footprint emission is lower with public transportation, like buses, and higher with cars and short distances like local flights.

Also, with transportation, another parameter to consider is the fuel used by your preferred vehicle.

Calculating your water usage 

Sure, we all need water for our daily activities. But when it comes to calculating your carbon footprints, you’ll need to consider your water consumption, especially if you use appliances like a dishwasher or a washing machine and if your water is somewhat processed. 

To evaluate this on a scale of 1 to 100 will be something like this: 

  • Let’s say you run your washing machine or dishwasher a little over nine times per week; you’ll need to add three points to your score. 
  • If you only run one of these appliances between 4 to 9 times, add 2 points. 
  • When you run your dishwasher between 1 to 3 times, then add a single point. 
  • If you don’t have any of these appliances, then add nothing. 

How to reduce your carbon footprint

After you’ve figured out your carbon footprint, the next thing you’ll need to do is know what measures to help reduce your carbon footprint; here are a few simple steps to have in mind. 

  • If you usually buy your water in plastic, opt for a reusable bottle instead
  • Don’t always rely on your car for short distances. Instead of using your car, walk, or bike. 
  • Turning off your lights and appliances from time to time will save you energy and cut down your carbon footprint.
  • If you always eat foreign food, it’s time to switch to locally grown foods. Doing this will not only reduce your carbon footprint but also support local businesses. 
  • On a final note, try to always drive responsibly and stay within the stipulated speed limit. For people who travel by air, try to keep your flight time to around six hours every year. 

Reducing your carbon footprint isn’t as difficult as you imagine. By making consistent and straightforward lifestyle changes, you’ll drastically reduce your impact on our planet. 

Final thoughts

Carbon footprint is something we all should take seriously, especially considering its impact on our dear planet. While countries, organizations, and different agencies must come together to find a lasting solution to the growing carbon footprint phenomenon, we as individuals can play our parts by taking responsible and intentional steps to cut down our carbon footprints. By making small and consistent lifestyle changes, we can make the world a safe place for all. 

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