What is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation, etc. The carbon footprint is a measurement of all greenhouse gases we individually produce and has units of tonnes (or kg) of carbon dioxide equivalent.
A carbon footprint is made up of two parts: the primary footprint and the secondary footprint. The primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumption and transportation (e.g. car and plane). We have direct control of these. The secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions from the whole lifecycle of products we use - those associated with their manufacture and eventual breakdown. To put it very simply – the more we buy the more emissions will be caused on our behalf.
Calculate your footprint
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon calculator can determine your carbon footprint. The calculator provides an estimate of household greenhouse gas emissions resulting from household energy use and waste disposal, and it gives you information you can use to identify ways to reduce your personal greenhouse gases. Set a reasonable goal to reduce your impact over the remainder of the year.