As evidence of global warming continues to mount, the concept of a carbon footprint has gained a foothold in the global community. It seems that everyone has this buzzword on their lips, as the world becomes more sensitive to how human actions impact the health of our planet. Governments, corporations, communities and individuals have a heightened awareness of how we must “step lightly” if we are to have a planet that will continue to sustain human life.
When Did the Concept of a Carbon Footprint Start?
It wasn’t until relatively recently that the phrase caught on and became more widely used. In fact, in 2003, gas and oil giant BP made carbon footprint a household phrase when they advertised with a campaign that asked individuals on the street if they knew what their footprint was.
What Does Carbon Footprint Mean?
A carbon footprint can be measured scientifically, although to do so would take an immense amount of time, tenacity, and data. However, in general terms, this footprint equals the sum of greenhouse gases that are generated by human activity. It is, essentially, how much effect any single action has on warming up the planet since greenhouse gases are the generally agreed-upon reason why the earth is warming so rapidly.
For comparison’s sake, the average footprint for an American individual is one of the highest in the world, at 16 tons. Statistically, it’s been noted that in order to avert a certain rise in global temperatures, the average annual global carbon footprint needs to drop to below two tons by the year 2050. On a global average, the current human footprint is currently closer to four tons.
What Are Greenhouse Gases?
Greenhouse gases are so named because they function similarly to the glass walls of a greenhouse, allowing sunlight to enter and warm the Earth’s surface while preventing the radiated heat from escaping. The gases are comprised of a group of atmospheric gases that trap heat within the Earth’s atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect. These gases are generated through various natural and human activities, including burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural practices.
Some of the most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases, with carbon dioxide being the most prevalent due to its significant production from fossil fuel combustion.
Ideas to Lower Your Carbon Footprint
Reducing the average carbon footprint by half is not an easy feat. But with billions of people on the planet, if everyone does a little something, it can make a difference. Here are some ways to lower your footprint.
Make Recycling a Habit
Reducing your carbon footprint by recycling isn’t just about tossing cans and bottles into a blue bin. It’s a way of significantly cutting down on the waste you generate. Start by getting familiar with your local recycling rules and giving a second life to paper, plastic, and glass.
Don’t forget about e-waste like old electronics and batteries. There are specialized recycling centers for these, such as evTerra. Buying products made from recycled materials also helps close the loop and promotes a circular economy where there is less waste.
Reduce Car Emissions
Cars are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Ditching your car in favor of public transportation, cycling, or walking is a great way to trim your carbon footprint. If you can’t avoid driving, consider investing in an electric or hybrid vehicle. Keeping your car well-maintained and tires properly inflated can also increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
Have a Green Kitchen
A diet rich in whole foods like meat, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables can significantly lower your footprint compared to one that relies heavily on packaged, processed foods. Reducing food waste is also key. Plan your meals, store leftovers properly, and compost food scraps to nourish your garden.
Consider Solar to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Solar installation is still out of reach for many households, but you can support solar and wind turbines by giving your custom to companies that operate off of them. A simple visit to a company’s website will tell you what they’re doing to reduce their carbon footprint. By supporting these companies, you can help even more.
Reduce, Reuse, and Think Twice
Think twice before tossing things in the trash. Could that old t-shirt be used as a household rag or dust cloth? Could you sew a tattered pair of blue jeans into a cool tote bag? Go online for inspiration on ways to convert “trash” into reusable items that not only give your things a longer life but reduce your carbon footprint by not having to buy more items.
Embrace Energy Efficiency
We all use energy every day, so why not make it work smarter for us? Small changes can make a big difference. Swap out old incandescent light bulbs for energy-saving LEDs. Unplug electronics when they’re not in use because they still draw power even when you aren’t using them. Look into upgrading your home insulation to keep the heat in during winter and out during summer, reducing your reliance on heating and cooling systems.All these ideas can be implemented by anyone, including you. It doesn’t cost more to reduce your carbon footprint; it often saves you money. If we all do a little, it can help a lot. Here at evTerra, we are here to help you make reducing your footprint easier!