Carbon Footprint 101: What it means and how to reduce yours


We’ve all heard the term ‘carbon footprint’. But how many of us actually understand what it means? As we all grow concerned about climate change, it’s easy to get distracted with the buzzwords and phrases. Buzzwords can feel cool and sound legitimate but they are just a shorthand for a really complicated idea.

Before you read any further, look away from the screen and define the term ‘Carbon Footprint’ out loud!

Ok you’re back! According to the OED, Carbon Footprint is:

a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced by the daily activities of a person or company

This is probably what most people have in mind, so good for you! But there are some finer details we need to address:

“Carbon Footprint” uses the word “carbon,” but actually encompases all greenhouse gases that are emitted through our daily activities. That includes methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), ozone (O3) and others, not just carbon dioxide (CO2).

If your activities emit other chemicals besides CO2, they are converted into the amount of CO2 that would cause the same effects on global warming. Methane, nitrous oxide and other heavier gases can have hundreds of times more global warming potential can CO2.

Carbon footprint can be calculated, but it’s not possible to be 100% accurate – tons of factors affect our footprints -from what we consume, to how we dispose of what we consume. The majority of our emissions are indirect: a result of our dependence on an industry that we rely on to live our daily lives. Reducing our use or dependence on emision heavy industries is one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprints.

  1. Walk, don’t watch

If at a loss for how to spend your leisure time, spend it in nature. Skip the movie theater or the pub drinks to watch the game, and go for a walk.

Often we spend hours on digital devices simply out of boredom, why not explore your own neighborhood and reap the health benefits as well? Don’t stave off movies altogether, but maybe take a chance to reflect on why you’re watching 8 hours of Netflix in one night…

  1. Drive less

When possible, walk, don’t drive. Driving is one of the biggest carbon footprint contributors to the environment. An average car releases 6 to 9 tons of carbon dioxide per year. While it’s difficult for those who don’t live in a city, minimise car trips wherever possible. For example, plan to do your errands for a week in one day and save yourself time and money.

  1. Choose Eco-Friendly Alternatives

Future friendly products are now one of the coolest things that we can buy. There’s always a more eco-friendly alternative to the tools in our daily lives. Thanks to those innovative minds that question why and how things are done a certain way, we have LED lights, corn wares, and now Karst’s stone paper. Stone paper minimises unnecessary tree and water waste while recycling waste into a more durable and superior alternative.

  1. Go Local

When you buy food or produce farmed in your region or country, you significantly reduce the emissions involved in getting the produce from the farm to your table. Some produce, especially exotic fruit, are even air-freighted in order to avoid spoilage! Next time you’re at the grocery store, ask yourself, do you really need to buy organic Japanese strawberries?

  1. Have a Meat-Free Day

Just like walking, reducing meat intake is also good for the environment as well as to your health. Studies show that meats are also one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gasses, in particular beef and mutton.Cows and sheep require significantly more feed to put on 1 pound of weight compared to chickens. Lower your meat intake and if you need to, choose chicken.

This piece was written by Zula Badral from Karst Stone Paper


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