What is a carbon footprint?…… “Amount of total greenhouse gas emission associated with all the activities of the person or other entity.” OR, “The number of greenhouse gases mainly carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity.” In simple words, it is a mark that you leave on the environment with every action which releases carbons.
The greenhouse gases generated by the human activities trap heat in the atmosphere and produce the “greenhouse effect”. They contribute to global warming and climate change. The climate change is occurring since the beginning of the industrial revolution. The carbon footprint is calculated for time period of a year. The standard unit of measurement of carbon footprint is carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2 e). Humans highly rely on fossil fuels. This high reliance on fossil fuels and constant deforestation, results the amount of green house gases to rise in the atmosphere.
Things which have major impact on Carbon Footprint
During the extraction process of fossil fuels tremendous amount of green house gases are generated. Green house gases also generate during the process of conversion of this fossil fuels into usable fuel. When you use a vehicle which runs on fuel it produces carbon dioxide and emits it into the atmosphere. Then the question may arise, If you use electric vehicles then is there any possibility to lower the footprint?. The answer is obviously, NO.
In the developed countries the major amount, around about 65% of electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels. Hence, the electric cars also generate carbon dioxide indirectly. Green house gases also generate in manufacturing process as a byproduct. The most common greenhouse gases which are released, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O). So if you are using a private vehicle it may contribute to more emission. If you opt for public transport then there is comparative less emission than private transport.
Things you eat
Vegan diet is the best diet if you are thinking to reduce your carbon footprint. According to the report published in 2018, best option to reduce the carbon footprint is to avoid meat and dairy products to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. Meat and dairy products account for 14.5 % – 18% of global green house gas emission. There are many meat lovers out there. Its not a thing that you should completely stop eating meat, everybody is well aware of the fact that it is impossible, but at least you can reduce the amount.
There are some other ways to minimize the carbon footprint. The first thing that you should do is, stop wasting your food. It is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emission. The food is thrown away and while it decomposes it emits methane. Every year about 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown away globally. On an average each person on the planet wastes 200-400 kg of food per year. So if you are thinking to reduce your footprint this is the easiest and effective way, just stop wasting your food.
Other thing you can do is to switch to plant based protein, it will cut down greenhouse gas emission dramatically. The dairy products also contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting down these products including milk and cheese can help to reduce the footprint. A study shows that entire dairy sector contributes 2.7% of greenhouse gas emission. Greenhouse gases are emitted in large number in the process of production of cheese.
A survey was taken in 2015, according to it the emission from plastic were equivalent to 1.8 billion metric tons (CO2). The resins from which plastic products such as plastic bags, plastic trays are made is a byproduct of petroleum. This process takes a lot of energy. As the population is increasing the use of plastic is also increasing. Plastic has a dangerous pollutant that has a adverse effect on the environment. It takes many hundreds or thousand years for plastic to break down. Hence the damage to the environment is long term.
As plastic is cheap and widely available product so its use is intensive. It takes many years to decompose and over the period of time it releases huge amount of toxins into the atmosphere. Pollution in the ocean is maximum from plastic. This causes harm to the marine life. Over use of plastic can be avoided by simply using reusable bottles and avoiding plastic item where ever possible. The carbon footprint from the plastic is enormous. Hence, you should minimize the use of plastic.
How to calculate your carbon footprint?
There are number of online calculators that can help you to calculate your carbon footprint such as The Nature Conservancy . Once you know your carbon footprint you can take actions accordingly to reduce it. The increasing CO2 e is giving rise to the earth temperature. Our earth is already 1.1o C warmer than it was before the industrial revolution. UN said that if the global temperature rises by 1.5o C by the year 2100 then it is okay and even if it rises by 2o C then too it is fine. But the most concerning thing is that the temperature is rising so fast that we may hit 1.5o C by the year 2030. Hence, actions should be taken to avoid the 2oC rise in the global temperatures.
You cannot lower the footprint overnight, small actions towards it can make a larger difference. Factor which plays a vital role in contributing maximum carbon footprint is your lifestyle. Your life style contributes a lot giving rise to greenhouse gases, i.e. the way you live, things you eat, the mode of transportation you use. So, next time think twice before you act.