How to Offset your Carbon Footprint
Increasing amounts of carbon emissions in the atmosphere can cause global warming – climate change. This is a threat to our planet and ultimately, to us.
What is a carbon footprint and what can we do to lessen our own footprint?
According to the World Health Organization, a carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced through the burning of fossil fuels and is expressed as a weight of CO2 emissions produced in tonnes.
This was simplified further by Youmatter as the whole amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced to, directly and indirectly, to support a person’s lifestyle and activities. This can come from the production and consumption of fossil fuels, food, manufactured goods, materials, roads or transportation.
Carbon footprints are usually measured in equivalent tons of CO2, during the period of a year, and they can be associated with an individual, an organization, a product or an event, among others.
How do we compute our carbon footprint?
First, we need to know how much carbon footprint we produce in a year. By knowing how much carbon footprint we produce in a year, we will then be able modify our daily activities like what to eat, what to buy, what transportation to use, what clothes to buy and so on.
There are free carbon footprint calculators available online that can help us compute our carbon footprint.
Carbon Footprint calculator : here
What can we do to help lessen our carbon footprint?
Below are some easy shifts that can help you to lessen your carbon footprint:
- Instead of travelling by car (1L of fuel burnt in a car engine produces 2.5kg of CO2), use public transport or go cycling or walking.
- If you need to use a car, do not drive fast as it uses more fuel thus emits more CO2
- Avoid flying. This is the world’s fastest growing source of CO2 emissions.
- Minimize eating meat. Get your protein fix from eggs, tofu and nuts.For carbohydrates or starches, have some potatoes rather than rice.
- The saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” can be rephrased to “an apple a day keeps CO2 at bay”.
- Wine over beer; tea over coffee
- Choose locally produced food (less pollution from transportation)
- Recycle/Compost organic waste
- Turn off the air-conditioning unit when a fan will suffice
- Improve insulation, reducing the need to use AC
- Unplug chargers as it still drains electricity even when not connected to a device
- Use energy-saving lights such as LED
- Switch off lights when not in use
- Use solar panels as your source of energy/electricity
- Plant trees
- 1 mature tree can absorb up to 21.77kg of CO2 per year
OH! But what if I can only afford to do a few of these as I love beef and longggg showers!
We cannot totally eradicate our carbon footprint, but there are ways we can offset it. Carbon offsetting allows us to compensate for the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions we produce by reducing emissions somewhere else.
At the basic level, carbon offsets are a form of trade. You trade your hard earned money for the ability to offset any part of your carbon footprint that you can't avoid. For example, you cannot do away with eating beef (2,820kg) and rice (121kg). You will purchase carbon offset credits equivalent to 2,941kg - which is the amount of emission you can’t avoid. The organization where you purchased your carbon offset credits will then invest this to certified carbon reduction projects.
Although the best way is to reduce all high carbon footprint activities, we can still do something about it to compensate.
I hope this will inspire you to try to lessen your carbon footprint each month, because those simple shifts you are doing daily has a huge impact in the long term. The future you will thank you for it!