Your “carbon footprint” is another name for measuring how much carbon dioxide you produce. A person’s carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere each year through everyday activities such as transportation, water and energy usage, generation of waste and the purchasing of goods and services. These emissions are measured in Carbon or CO2. Another way of thinking about your carbon footprint -- how the everyday decisions and activities your family engages in affect the environment. For example, wasting water increases the size of your carbon footprint, while saving water decreases it. The average family in the United States produces 75 tons of CO2 per year. Implementing sustainable behaviors really does make a difference. 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint!
- Grow Your Own Food: It reduces car trips to the grocery store, as well as CO2 emissions associated with shipping food.
- Turn off the Tap: Turn off running water while brushing your teeth and washing dishes. Water is heavy and moving large quantities of it over long distances and significant elevations into Southern California is an energy intensive task. If you add up all of the water wasted every day, the impact is significant.
- Unplug Chargers: Chargers are drawing power from the outlet even when you’re not using them to actively charge. Pull the charger out of the plug when you’re not actually using it.
- Go Paperless: Switch to paperless billing, read your favorite magazines online and only print when necessary.
- Walk More: Before getting in your car, think about whether you could walk instead. It’s healthy for you and good for the environment.
There are several online carbon calculators that can help your family figure out the amount of CO2 you produce in a year and also help identify actions to reduce your family’s carbon footprint. Both the Cool Climate Network from the University of Berkley http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/carboncalculator and the US Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/ind-calculator.html websites have easy to use household calculators that also provide resources and information. So how does your family measure up? To celebrate Earth Day 2015 on April 22, get your family together to calculate your carbon footprint. Set a goal for Earth Day 2016! Small changes, added together, can make a huge difference in the consumption and waste problem in the world. Choose one or two new ways to reduce the effect your family has on the environment. Get inspired by spending time in nature -- go for a family hike or enjoy a beach day!!