What is a Carbon Footprint?

A definition of our Carbon Footprints and how we can reduce them.
By: Sheila Morrison
Oct. 5, 2009 - PRLog -- Individual Emissions

Our ‘Carbon Footprint’ is the measurement of how many tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) gas each person will produce in a year.  Carbon Dioxide is the pollutant we produce in the greatest amount.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of other chemical reactions such as; fuels used for automobiles, heating homes and offices.

Both at home and in your car, daily activities cause the emission of greenhouse gases. We produce greenhouse gas emissions directly by burning oil or gas for home energy or indirectly by using electricity generated from fossil fuel burning.

Everyone’s emissions can vary depending on location, habits and personal choices. For example, the type of fuel used to generate the electricity a person uses can lead to different levels of emissions. Coal emits more greenhouse gases per unit of electricity than a natural gas. How much you drive and your car’s fuel efficiency, as well as time spent idling in traffic, also affect the level emitted gasses. The good news is, the amount of recycling done by you in your car and home can affect emissions by reducing the amount of methane-generating waste sent to landfills.

Your Emissions

Through all of our actions at home, in our car and in the office, we affect our greenhouse gas emissions. The first step in reducing your greenhouse gas emissions is to identify how much your household emits. You can find out how large your Carbon Foot print is by using the Carbon Footprint Calculator found at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/individual.html

Emissions from waste and emissions savings from recycling are expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents.  The easiest way to save is through recycling of glass, plastic, metal and paper.  This is included as part of the Calculator on the EPA link.

Potential annual dollar savings through recycling and suggested savings are approximated based on generalized calculations.

The average American’s footprint is 20,750.

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