What is your carbon footprint?

1. What does a “carbon footprint ” mean?    

A carbon footprint represents your personal impact on the environment. A high carbon footprint means that you are contributing to environmental damage. A low carbon footprint allows you to be a part of the solution, reducing your contribution to environmental damage. What does a carbon footprint actually mean?

When trying to evaluate one’s personal carbon footprint, it is important to know what it is not. A “carbon footprint” is not the same as your annual mileage. It does not indicate the number of hours you drive each week. Nor does it indicate what type of clothing you wear or how many meals you eat at restaurants. The three components included in the calculation of a carbon footprint are your total carbon emissions, the average rate at which you are driving, and the average number of miles you travel each year.

If you want to know how much carbon you are emitting into the environment, you simply add up all the carbon emissions that you have identified in your annual trip to work, your annual driving distance, and the amount of food you eat per meal. Your annual average rate is the maximum number of miles driven per trip at the lowest possible rate, and the highest possible rate at which you eat food. You can find out your annual average rate at the Web site for your auto insurance company or the interactive carbon footprint calculator at the Environmental Working Group’s site. The environmental Working Group recommends that you make changes that reduce your carbon footprint in areas such as your car, bike and house in order to meet their recommended “footprint” guidelines.

Now that you know what a carbon footprint actually is and what it indicates about your lifestyle, how can you go about making changes? The first step is to examine whether your activities and your personal habits are causing or result in significant amounts of carbon emissions. If so, you need to examine what changes you can make to reduce those emissions. This can be as simple as purchasing a less wasteful vehicle. Some companies offer discounts and rebates on purchases that involve energy-efficient automobiles. Other companies provide training and transportation assistance to help you change your habits.

If you drive a hybrid or an electric vehicle, your mileage will be lower than it would be otherwise. If you live in a high traffic area where you use public transportation and you take mass transit, you can reduce your carbon emissions by walking or cycling instead of using your vehicle. If you own a home, it may be time to consider installing low and no flow shower systems to reduce the amount of water that you use. These systems not only reduce your water usage, they also save the environment by reducing the amount of solid waste that is released into the air. Look in to what companies you are supporting and their carbon footprint. For example if you are looking at a new energy provider you can shop and compare Central Hudson providers that offer renewable energy options.

How do you know if you are practicing carbon neutral travel and what kind of behavior is aligned with practicing zero carbon travel? The simple answer is that you should try to think green when you travel. Look for all-natural ingredients in your traveling gear, especially for camping trips and when buying hotel room beds. Recycle whenever you can. And try to make your purchases from places that practice sustainable consumption rather than from places that are more environmentally friendly but which produce high volumes of high-emitting goods.

 2. How your traveling influences your carbon footprint

Your travels and all of the things you do while on the road can have a large impact on your carbon footprint. It might not be easy to grasp, but when you actually think about it, your travel has a direct effect on the world. There are many things that influence your footprint. It starts with how you get there, what fuel you use, what you do in your spare time, where you stay, and much more. To better understand how your travel impacts your carbon footprint, it is important to look at how all of those things vary when you take one vehicle or one person to get to a destination.

The distance you drive also has an impact on the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Those who travel on highways or expressways put themselves in the habit of leaving several hours before they would normally arrive at their destination. While this may seem like a good idea from an economic perspective, those who travel on highways or expressways know that time will come when they will have to return. That said, they still plan their trips as if there was not a traffic jam in their path and that the trip itself would take less time.

By understanding how your traveling habits impact your carbon emissions, you will be able to take steps to change your traveling habits. These include refraining from driving a car when you are not in need of it and choosing low-polluting transportation. You may also wish to invest in hybrid vehicles, which are considered to be much more eco-friendly than traditional vehicles. Besides changing your travel habits, you may also wish to consider investing in green energy sources, such as solar panels to power your home.

 3. How your diet effects your carbon footprint 

A growing number of people are becoming aware of the need to be more conscious about how their diet’s impact on the environment. We all want to be as “green” as possible, and one way to do that is to ensure you are eating well. However, one of the common misconceptions is that this needs to be a drastic change, particularly if you are eating western diets. The fact is that there are many ways you can stay fit and healthy without giving up your favorite foods. Here are just five of the many ways how your diet impacts your carbon footprint.

If you are eating out at restaurants, choose grass-fed beef or grass-fed goat over grain fed beef. Some people mistakenly believe that by choosing grass-fed meat they are cutting down on their carbon footprint; however, by eating this way you are actually reducing the amount of methane gas created by livestock, and that is significantly higher than the amount that is created by eating grain-fed beef. Also, ask for vegetarian meals in restaurants that use environmentally sustainable cooking methods. By choosing vegetarian food you are not only eating locally, you are also helping to save the world.

Excess fat is calories and by eating less you are reducing your carbon footprint. Excess sodium also comes from the foods we eat, so by replacing high-sodium foods with lower sodium alternatives, you are also helping the environment. Make sure you choose salt substitutes with a splodge of sea salt rather than table salt; the former has twice the amount of sodium. Try to eat a variety of healthy options, rather than eating the same thing every day.

How much money do you spend on coffee every week? This little habit can make a big difference to your overall impact on carbon emissions. The biggest impact is from the effect it has on the ground water. Ground water is essential for agriculture, but it is also important for drinking and other purposes.

So, if you want to know how your diet impacts your carbon footprint, start by reviewing the food you buy and the clothes you wear. Use that information to create a lifestyle change that will positively impact the environment and help to save our planet for generations to come. Enjoy!