How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

Everything has a carbon footprint, whether we notice it or not. Besides driving your car or turning up the thermostat to keep the house warm, simple tasks that don’t directly involve emitting carbon create greenhouse gases somewhere along the line. Activities like eating fruit, using the internet, or even reading books contribute to our carbon footprint.

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by a product, place, person, group, or event. All of these things emit carbon, whether it be directly through use or when it was made. For example, consider a shirt. Growing the materials, putting them together, packaging and shipping the shirt, and selling the shirt all emit some greenhouse gases.

And that’s just one small task. We eat, clean, shop, travel, and do many other as part of our everyday lives, all of which add up to our personal carbon footprint. Everything we use and buy creates carbon emissions. The average carbon footprint of a person in the United States adds up to about 20 tons per year, compared to an ideal amount of under 2 tons!

Considering our carbon footprint is important if we want to care more for the environment; it is one of the many things we can pay attention to when being more eco-friendly. Everyone’s lives are different, so your annual carbon footprint might be different from someone else’s. To calculate your own carbon footprint, use the EcoCart Carbon Calculator. By answering a few questions about your daily habits you can get an idea of your annual carbon footprint. Learning about your carbon footprint is a good start towards being aware of your impact on the environment – and once you’re aware, you can work to reduce it.

How do I reduce my carbon footprint?

Learning about your carbon footprint might stress you out, but everyone has a carbon footprint, and it would be impossible to completely eliminate it! Everything creates some greenhouse gas emissions, but there are places you can change your habits and reduce your carbon emissions. Even if you reduce your carbon emissions in small amounts, you are making an impact!

Opting to eat vegetarian one day a week, catching a ride with a friend to work, or turning off your hallway lights when everyone heads to bed are a few easy habits to implement to reduce your carbon footprint. Choosing to purchase locally produced food and other items can also reduce the greenhouse gases created in transportation, and allow you to support small businesses!

Shopping at sustainable stores and only buying what you need can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste! However, there are a lot of variables when it comes to buying things, especially online – it’s hard to know how much of an impact production and shipping of a product have. It’s also hard to avoid the emissions created from transport when the best (or only) way to buy something is from an online store.

When it comes to reducing your footprint from shopping online, the EcoCart Chrome Extension is perfect too. EcoCart is an extension that offsets the carbon emitted by purchases from over 10,000 online retailers – for free! EcoCart calculates the exact carbon footprint of shipping your purchase and then offsets that amount by supporting projects that work to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Helping the planet doesn’t mean drastically changing your life overnight, it starts with small actions, and it starts with you. Implementing even one new habit to leave a smaller carbon footprint makes a difference and adds up long term, and you might even inspire friends to do the same!