For your information, the earth’s temperature has fairly remained constant for a long time in the past, and in the 20th century alone, it has increased by 2 degrees celsius due to an increase in the carbon footprint of our society. This phenomenon of an increase in global temperature is called global warming.
But if 2 degrees of global warming seem a small amount to you, then you must understand that even this small amount of increase is enough for causing havoc on this earth. The results are erratic weather conditions like drought, storms, cyclones, floods, landslides, etc that we are already facing in today’s times. The given reasons are enough for anyone to think of reducing his or her carbon footprint.
Having that said, we are going to look in this article at what carbon footprint is, how to calculate the carbon footprint of an individual, and what we can do to reduce it.
What is Carbon Footprint and why do we need to reduce it?
The Carbon Footprint is defined as the amount of Greenhouse Gases(GHGs), mainly Carbon Dioxide that gets released into the atmosphere as a result of various human activities performed at an individual or community level. The various human activities that contribute to Carbon Footprint are the consumption of fossil fuels, manufactured goods, utility materials, and transportation activities. It’s measured in equivalent tons of CO2 per year.
Recognize a fact that the average Carbon Footprint of a person globally is 4 tons of CO2 per year. In a developed country like the US, it’s 16 tons. And if we want to avoid a further increase of 2 degrees in earth’s temperature, then we have to reduce the 4 tons CO2 value to 2 tons before 2050 by taking adequate measures.
Official Definition By The World Health Organization
There’s also a definition given by WHO to the Carbon Footprint. So, let’s look at that definition before moving further on this topic. So, according to WHO,
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact your activities have on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced through the burning of fossil fuels and is expressed as a weight of CO2 emissions produced in tonnes.
How to calculate or measure Carbon Footprint?
There’s a famous saying about measuring things and processes that are given by one of the world’s famous marketing consultants Peter Drucker and that goes as follows- If you can’t measure, then you can’t improve.
Undoubtedly, this saying goes true with the Carbon Footprint too. Though there is a bit of a problem here and that is, we can’t completely or accurately measure of calculating the Carbon Footprint of an individual, but still, we can get an approx idea through our efforts and analysis that’ll be enough for us to act upon improvements. Having that said you can use any Carbon Footprint Calculator available on the internet, like this one that is from Carbonfootprint.com.
Every calculator works similar and you’ll be asked multiple questions by them like, how much you spend on your foods, clothes, recreational activities, paper-based products like books & magazines, how much you travel in a year from different means like flight, taxi, bus or your personal vehicles and how much electricity you consume in your house. Based on the data you provide to the calculator, it will try to give you a value of your carbon footprint.
How to reduce Carbon Footprint?
As we now know how much Carbon Footprint we are letting on earth from our activities, let’s end our discussion with also knowing some ways to reduce that Carbon Footprint for a healthier and greener earth.
So, essentially there are 5 main areas where we need to work upon that’ll help to achieve our goal.
Why not walk or cycle wherever possible? This will not only reduce air and noise pollution, but will also keep your body fit and fine, and will also reduce your fuel expenses.
For far longer distances, like a city to city travel, it’ll be better if you opt for public transport or carpooling rather than your personal vehicle if you’re traveling alone. This again will reduce the GHG emissions going into the atmosphere and will also save a bit of your hard-earned money.
It’s time to go seasonal i.e. to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. But how this will help in reducing our carbon footprint? This will help because unseasonal food arriving from overseas and farther distances will have shipping and storage procedures attached to them that require fuel and other resources. This also increases the cost of the edibles after they’ve reached their destination. So, it’s better if you buy your local produce which will also help the local economy.
Also, try to consume less meat in your diet. Poultry and dairy products require a lot of water and fuel for their processing before they are handed over to you for cooking. But no one is asking you to go pure veggie especially if you are a meat lover, so you don’t have to worry. What this means is eating meat once in a while from your side will help a lot to achieve our sustainable goals.
Looking at the globe, though it seems that water is in abundance for all of the earth’s residents, in reality, it’s not. Because what you see most is not freshwater but saline seawater which is unfit for homely usage. And as you can guess, the desalination of seawater for making it fit for use will require efforts and energy that’ll contribute to the carbon footprint.
And here’s another fact: 96.5 percent of the water on the earth is saline water. And out of the remaining water that is freshwater, ⅔ of it is locked in snow and glaciers.
So, we need to use water judiciously to conserve it for the present and future. Small measures from our side, like taking short showers, turning off taps while brushing teeth, fixing leaking pipes and taps, will help a lot.
Energy is a big deal because every next thing requires energy to run or exist, whether it’s us or all our electrical appliances and vehicles.
Note that most of the world’s energy source arrives from fossil fuels which account for more than 80% of energy consumption. And this also creates a serious issue of global warming that is causing climate change ultimately leading to erratic weather conditions. This even doesn’t stop here and air pollution due to burning fuels is responsible for 5 million deaths each year.
So, we need to manage our energy resources efficiently if we want to tackle the above issues discussed. And for that, even if small measures are undertaken like switching off unused lights and appliances will help a lot to achieve our goal of reducing the carbon footprint.
5. Recycling Waste
It’s time to follow 5Rs that’ll greatly help to reduce a society’s carbon footprint. You’d probably have heard about 3Rs which are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. But there are 2 more to go zero waste that is Refuse and Rot.
Reduce: Try to spend on things that you need. This doesn’t mean you have abandoned all your wishes or desires, but what this actually means is to not waste things or resources. This will also help in building your savings for the future.
Reuse: Don’t just throw away your broken items or faulty appliances if they can be repaired to new ones. Reuse it and you’ll save your money and this planet.
Recycle: If you can’t reuse, then recycle. Check your area’s laws and you’ll definitely find an option to send your broken stuff for their recycling.
Refuse: Let’s refuse the use of plastics as they are non-biodegradable and thus a source of water and land pollution. Go with disposable bags instead.
Rot: Set up a compost system in your society if it’s not yet, for all the biodegradable i.e. organic wastes.
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We at LogicLadder Inc are providers of IoT-based sustainable solutions like Groundwater Monitoring System, Energy Management System, and Stack Emission Monitoring System.