Everything has a Carbon Footprint
May 06 2021
From going shopping to surfing the web, everything we do can have an impact on the environment. These simple tasks all have one thing in common: they have a carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by a product, place, person, group, or event. In other words, almost everything we do has an impact on climate change, whether we notice it or not.
What leaves a carbon footprint?
Unfortunately, most things leave a carbon footprint. Activities such as production, transportation, and decomposition can emit carbon into the atmosphere. In total, all carbon emissions make up 76% of all greenhouse gases globally.
Simple everyday tasks can have a significant carbon footprint if you consider all of the parts they involve. For example, buying food from the supermarket leaves a carbon footprint. Producing the food, processing it in a factory, and transporting it to the store creates a lot of emissions. Shoppers getting to the store can also produce emissions if they drive a car or use the bus. This can create even more emissions if this is a special trip and not a stop on the consumer’s normal routine. Even the construction, maintenance, and utilities of the building the supermarket uses results in carbon being emitted into the atmosphere!
Shopping also has a sizable carbon footprint. The factories needed to produce products like clothes or toys are responsible for a majority of the emissions in the areas they are located. In 2019, industrial emissions were the third-largest contributor to the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to these carbon emissions, online shipping can result in additional emissions. Online shopping has the same emission-contributing activities like production and manufacturing products and packaging, plus the burden of shipping. Shipping products requires a myriad of planes, trucks, and vans to bring products to people all over the world, and expedited shipping even more. Plus, with free returns becoming more common, consumers easily return products they don’t like or need, and effectively double the carbon emissions of shipping that item.
Your Personal Carbon Footprint
All of these everyday tasks, like going to the grocery store or shopping online, contribute to your own personal carbon footprint. The average carbon footprint of a person in the United States is 16 tons per year! In contrast, an ideal carbon footprint is only 2 tons. All these greenhouse gas emissions directly contribute to pollution and climate change; therefore, saving our environment starts with reducing our carbon footprint.
It would be impossible for us to completely stop everything we were doing. No matter what, there will be some emissions and that’s only natural. While we can’t completely eliminate our personal carbon footprint, we can make small changes in our daily habits and choices to move towards a better and cleaner environment. Reducing your individual carbon footprint is an important step towards making a change in the environment, and it isn’t too difficult to do either. A good place to start is on the internet, which you’re using right now!
While it doesn’t seem like turning on a computer emits carbon, using the internet can still leave a carbon footprint. Computers, tablets, phones, and other devices use up a lot of energy, even when they aren’t turned on. Data centers and servers to store and run the things we use on the internet demand an astronomical amount of energy on top of that. Creating the energy needed for all of this leaves a substantial carbon footprint. Learn more about the hidden carbon footprint of the internet.
What you can do
One simple thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is installing the EcoCart Chrome extension! EcoCart offsets the carbon created from purchases at over 10,000 online retailers, allowing you to reduce your carbon footprint without changing your habits! EcoCart does this by supporting projects that are actively working to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere – like providing wind energy or making water purifiers, in amounts directly related to the carbon created by shipping the purchase to your house.
Buying food locally, choosing public transit, and limiting your energy usage are other ways you can make small changes to reduce your carbon footprint. The biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions are electricity, transportation, and industrial processes, so being aware of how our daily tasks impact these sectors is a good way to start reducing your carbon footprint.
Being more conscious of the things we do every day is important towards living a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. Protecting the environment starts with individual change. Reducing your carbon footprint, even if by a little bit, can have a big impact in the long term.