A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced to support a person’s lifestyle and activities directly and indirectly. Carbon footprints are usually measured in tons of CO2 equivalent over the period of a year and can be associated with an individual, an organization, a product, or an event, among others. The GHGs whose sum results in a carbon footprint can come from the production and consumption of fossil fuels, food, manufactured goods, materials, roads, or transportation. And despite their importance, carbon footprints are difficult to calculate precisely because of poor knowledge and lack of data on the complex interactions between the contributing processes – including the influence of natural processes that store or release carbon dioxide.
It is difficult to get someone’s exact carbon footprint. And the fact is, even though your car may pollute less than the average value used, or the beef you buy is less polluting than average: they are still major sources of CO2 emissions, which means that general guidelines still apply. So, in line with the World Health Organization’s suggestions, there are a few things you can work on to improve your carbon footprint:
- Avoid polluting car travel (every litter of fuel burned in a car engine emits more than 2.5 kg of CO2) and favour walking, cycling or using public transport, especially trains.
- Reduce the number of animal products consumed.
- Consume locally and seasonally produced food: short trips mean less pollution from transport.
- Use the washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full.
- Turn off lights when you don’t need them and use energy-saving lights, such as LED;
- Switch your electricity supplier to a greener one that provides greener (renewable) energy, to help strengthen low-carbon energy sources.
This is a topic everyone should be educated in and aware of. Small changes make a lot of difference and are things that can be easily adjustable in someone’s life. Having this awareness within families is also very important, so the whole household can contribute to changes.
On the topic, Family Footprints, a new Erasmus+KA2 project, aims to support families and communities to learn about these topics and teach them to start making these changes for a m greener life. Check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Family-Footprints-102532795853610