What is your carbon footprint?
Your footprint is a way of showing your carbon emissions, compared to other people and other countries. It’s your impression on the planet.
By carbon emissions, we mean greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Humans produce these gases in vast quantities by doing things like burning coal, oil and gas for energy and cutting down forests. Your individual emissions are built up from the energy you use personally for electricity and travel, as well as the energy that’s required to produce your food and all the other stuff you buy, whether it’s made in the UK or elsewhere in the world.
We convert all the different greenhouse gases into an equivalent impact from carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Your footprint value is in “tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent”.
This is copied from the Methodology section of the WWF Footprint Calculator website.
Why should you know your carbon footprint and try to reduce it?
Greenhouse gases significantly contribute to climate change, which has an impact on all of us on the planet. In particular plants and animals, who are dependent on certain seasonal weather conditions and temperatures to survive and reproduce. Extreme weather conditions like storms with tidal surges, hurricanes and severe droughts, affect everyone that live in areas where they happen, but the people that are hardest hit are poorer people.
If you know your carbon footprint then you can identify areas of your life that you can change to reduce your carbon footprint and if everyone did this it would have a significant impact on carbon emissions.
I have checked out various footprint calculators and my favourite is the WWF Footprint calculator, as it is quick and easy to use. If you are not sure how to answer a question then scroll down a little (on your phone or tablet) and there will be a hint and some further information. There are also useful images, which break down your footprint into the areas that you do well or not so well in, helping you to work out where to start to make the biggest changes. There is also a lot of information about how to reduce your footprint on the WWF website when you have completed the questions.
My Carbon Footprint results
Here are my results from using the WWF carbon footprint calculator, last year I was at 70% but today I answered the questions and I am now at 63%. The reduction is down to my reducing food waste I think. Although my results are better than average, I want to reduce this even further in the coming year.
As you can see from my carbon breakdown above, my home does really well at only 4% so I think reducing that further will be unlikely. I am on a 100% renewable energy tariff and have solar panels, however, I am going to try to reduce the amount of energy I use this year, as this will also save me some money.
My main areas to work at reducing are food and travel, I could reduce my food carbon emissions if I went meat free and reduced my food waste to zero. However, I have 2 teenage children who don’t eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables or salad, also I am not confident with vegetarian cooking. Therefore I think this is an area to work on gradually and see if I can start introducing some more meat-free meals.
The area of travel is even trickier for me to reduce. I live in rural Lincolnshire so I rely heavily on my car to get to work and do shopping etc. The nearest village with shops is 6 miles away, my nearest supermarket is 10 miles away. I don’t use public transport unless I am going to London or a big city and then I tend to have to travel 34 miles or more to a major train station. However, I track the annual mileage that I travel in my car and I am going to see if I can reduce that.
If you want to work out your carbon footprint use the WWF Footprint Calculator and please leave me a comment below telling me your results and what area you are going to focus on reducing.
Follow me on your preferred social media site to keep up to date with how well I am doing at reducing my carbon footprint. I will also do a series of blog posts on the different areas of the carbon calculator, with ideas on how to reduce your carbon footprint in these areas.