How To Track Your Own Carbon Footprint

Your carbon footprint tells you how much carbon dioxide emissions are caused by your lifestyle. We’re breaking down three ways to track and lower your carbon footprint. 

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What’s a Carbon Footprint?

Each one of us has an impact on the planet. Your carbon footprint is the impact you have on the planet in units of carbon dioxide. Your impact is determined by how much carbon dioxide is emitted by your lifestyle. This includes your transportation, eating habits, waste and recycling rates, energy use, and more. 

Your carbon footprint is unique to you, and there are ways to track and reduce your personal impact.

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Track Your Energy

One of the simplest ways to understand your carbon footprint is by looking at your electricity bill. Electricity is often generated by burning fossil fuels, although many countries are making an effort to grow renewable energy sources. 

Your electric bill can be used to find your monthly carbon footprint or your annual carbon footprint if all electric bills are gathered and saved for an annual audit. 

There are many calculators online designed to give you an estimate of your carbon footprint based on your lifestyle. However, for your energy consumption, take your monthly bill total and multiply it by 105. The number you generate is an estimate of how many pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted through your energy use for the year.

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What Do You Eat?

Where your food comes from, how much water, land, and resources are needed to grow and harvest it, and how far it needs to travel to reach you are all factors that impact your carbon footprint. 

The foods associated with the highest carbon emissions include animal agriculture (including raised or wild-caught seafood), yet only make up roughly a fifth of the calories we eat. Meat and other animal products are responsible for half of food-related greenhouse gas emissions recorded worldwide. 

While tracking your food footprint, or foodprint if you will, it’s good practice to keep in mind that the more animal products you eat creates, a larger carbon footprint. The number increases depending on your portion sizes, household size, and frequency of meals containing animal products. Eating a diet around plant-based proteins and food sources is an accepted way to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Food purchases from local sources, like farms or farmers' markets, whether it be animal products or vegetables, is a simple way to ensure your carbon footprint declines. The closer your food source, the lower the carbon footprint.

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How Do You Get Around?

If you’re like many, who rely on a personal vehicle to get around, calculating your fuel carbon footprint is simple. Take the average amount of money you spend on gasoline/fuel per month and multiply it by 105 to see an estimate of your annual total of carbon dioxide emitted by driving. This number can be over or underestimated depending on the efficiency of your vehicle and how often it is maintained. 

To lower this impact, make fewer trips, make more efficient trips to condense errands, and maintain your vehicle regularly. If available to you, consider taking public transportation more often to cut your impact. 

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Key Takeaways
  1. Your carbon footprint is the impact you have on the planet in units of carbon dioxide.
  2. Your carbon footprint can be tracked and reduced with simple lifestyle changes.
  3. Food, transportation, electricity use, and water use are a few factors that impact your carbon footprint.