Have you ever wondered what your impact on the planet is? Or how much greenhouse gases your daily activities emit into the atmosphere? Knowing your carbon footprint is the first step to reducing it!
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted into the atmosphere as a result of your activities. GHGs trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, which causes global warming.
Maybe you're concerned about climate change and want to do your part to help. Maybe you're looking for ways to save money on your energy bills. Whatever your reason, understanding your carbon footprint is a great way to make more informed choices about your lifestyle and consumption habits.
At Good Filling, we believe that waste reduction is a key part of reducing our carbon footprint. That's why we created Good Filling Stations, which offer a convenient and affordable way to refill your favorite household, personal care, and beverage products (and don’t generate any new plastic)!
In our latest blog, we’re explaining what a carbon footprint is, how to calculate your own carbon footprint, and are giving you specific tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing your lifestyle.
How to calculate your carbon footprint
The first step to reducing your carbon footprint is to calculate it. This will help you understand where your emissions are coming from and identify areas where you can make changes.
There are many different carbon footprint calculators available online, including this calculator from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To calculate your carbon footprint, you'll need to enter information about your energy consumption, transportation habits, diet, and other activities.
Once you've entered your information, the calculator will estimate your total carbon footprint in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). CO2e is a unit of measurement used to compare the global warming potential of different greenhouse gases. According to The Nature Conservancy, the average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world–while the global average is closer to just 4 tons. So, we have some work to do here in the States!
Factors that increase your carbon footprint
Now that you’ve calculated your own carbon footprint and have compared it to the averages above, it’s time to understand the factors that can increase your carbon footprint. Here are a few of the most common:
- Driving a car: Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Did you know that every gallon of gasoline burned emits about 8.8 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere?
- Flying: Flying is another major source of greenhouse gas emissions. A round-trip flight from New York to London produces about 2 tons of carbon dioxide per passenger. That's more than twice the average annual carbon footprint of a person living in the developing world!
- Eating meat: Meat production is a major contributor to climate change. It takes a lot of energy and resources to raise livestock, and the manure produced by livestock releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Did you know that producing 1 pound of beef requires about 1,800 gallons of water? That's the equivalent of taking a 2-hour shower!
- Overusing energy at home: The energy we use to power our homes and businesses comes from a variety of sources, including fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, so it’s no surprise that burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Did you know that the average American household produces about 12 tons of carbon dioxide per year? That's the equivalent of driving a car about 15,000 miles!
- Overconsumption: The production and transportation of goods requires energy and resources, which contributes to climate change. The average American produces about 4.5 pounds of trash per day, and unfortunately a lot of that waste ends up in landfills or incinerators, both of which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Understanding your indirect impact with upstream CO2 emissions
In addition to the direct emissions that we produce from our own activities, there are also indirect emissions, known as upstream CO2 emissions, that are associated with the products and services that we consume! Upstream CO2 emissions are the emissions that are produced during the extraction, production, transportation, and disposal of the goods and services that we use.
For example, when you buy a new piece of clothing, the upstream CO2 emissions associated with that purchase include the emissions that were produced to grow the cotton, manufacture the fabric, dye the fabric, sew the garment, and transport the garment to the store where you bought it.
Upstream CO2 emissions can make up a significant portion of our overall carbon footprint. In fact, a study by the World Resources Institute found that upstream CO2 emissions account for about 60% of the average American's carbon footprint.
There are a number of things that we can do to reduce our upstream CO2 emissions. For example, we can choose to buy products that are made from sustainable materials and that are produced locally. We can also reduce our consumption of goods and services overall.
Specific strategies to reduce your carbon footprint
Now that you know what factors increase your carbon footprint, here are a few specific strategies you can take to reduce it:
- Drive less and walk, bike, or take public transportation more often.
- Fly less. If you can, avoid flying and choose other modes of transportation, such as trains or buses. Flying is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Eat less meat. Meat production is a major contributor to climate change. Eating less meat is one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Use less energy at home. Turn off lights when you leave a room, unplug electronics when you're not using them, and weatherize your home.
- Buy less stuff. The production and transportation of goods requires energy and resources, which contributes to climate change.
So, what’s next?
Reducing your carbon footprint is one of the most important things you can do to help fight climate change, and there are many small changes you can make in your everyday life that can have a big impact.
By following the tips above, you can reduce your carbon footprint and make a difference for the planet. Have you calculated your own carbon footprint yet?
About Good Filling Company
Good Filling runs and operates automated refill machines for home-care, personal-care and beverage products, offering homes an accessible and affordable way to help the planet. Our Good Filling Stations allow consumers to reuse their own containers to prevent plastics from entering the waste stream.
With Stations across the United States, and many more on their way, we’re bringing convenience to the zero-waste movement. To learn more about Good Filling Stations and to find one near you, click here.