How You Can Calculate and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

I’m currently taking a course that is entirely focused on climate change. BU has concentrations and majors, like earth and environment, which are based around learning how to adapt to and mitigate climate change. This subject has become such an important factor in our everyday lives, and there are many ways in which we can take steps to lessen our personal impact on the environment. Calculating your carbon footprint can help you to understand the ways your lifestyle impacts the environment the most. 

So what exactly is a “carbon footprint”? According to Time for Change, a carbon footprint is the “total amount of greenhouse gasses produced human activities.” Everything from charging your phone to the Uber that you take goes into your carbon footprint because most of the sources that we rely on for energy still produce greenhouse gases. 

But that’s not all of the things that often generate an excessive use of power: the food that you eat can affect your carbon footprint. The meat industry has a large impact on the overall carbon footprint of human beings. To put this in perspective, the tragic Amazonian fires were caused by the cattle industry’s need for more land for their cattle to graze on. 

Calculating your own carbon footprint is a really big step in making personal changes that improve your impact on the environment. Once you know the ways that you impact the environment the most, you can work to change them and lessen your negative impact. One of the methods to calculate your footprint is through Conservation International, which you can find the link to here. Conservation International’s calculator shows you your carbon footprint in terms of the number of trees needed to offset your production of carbon. 

Another option is using the Global Footprint Network’s calculator, which you can find here. The Global Footprint Network explains its calculation a little differently by telling you the date of the year in which your carbon consumption becomes unsustainable. Because the two websites use different ways of calculating, their answers might be varied but that’s okay — both estimations will give you a better idea of how your lifestyle is affecting the environment and give you tips on how to change. 

So how can you alter your lifestyle to lessen your carbon footprint? A big one is recycling! It may seem tedious at times, but recycling everything from plastics to clothing can have a big impact on carbon levels. Buying used clothes can also help improve your footprint. Who doesn’t love thrifting? Try taking the T or bus instead of an Uber to save some energy and money. 

Adjusting your lifestyle in little ways can have a surprisingly big impact on your carbon footprint. 


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