Climate change is real. The consequences of climate change are unpredictable, but one thing is for sure – if we keep going down the same track we’re on now, the results will be devastating. Loss of life. Trillions in economic damage. Climate refugees.
We don’t want to be all doom and gloom, but it’s important to remember that the stakes are very real. We aren’t powerless. By better understanding what a carbon footprint is, how big your carbon footprint is, and how you can reduce it, you can take active steps to slow climate change.
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by an entity in a given amount of time. In the case of an individual or family, your carbon footprint is usually calculated over the course of a year.
Carbon footprints are inherently difficult to calculate because there are so many different activities that can produce GHGs. The name carbon footprint comes from the most commonly produced GHG, carbon dioxide. Other GHGs, like methane, also have a substantial impact on the rate of global warming.
Calculating Your Carbon Footprint
There are some obvious ways in which an individual creates GHG emissions. In Winnipeg, a lot of GHGs come from burning natural gas for heat in the winter, and from driving.
Less obvious sources of GHGs come from the products we consume. Eating meat, especially beef, can promote methane production. Sourcing products internationally instead of locally means longer shipping routes, which leads to GHG emissions. Everything from how often you get small packages delivered from Amazon to how many paper products you use each year can affect the environment.
How can you calculate how big your carbon footprint is with so many variables? It would be a lot of work for an individual to undertake – fortunately, there are online calculators that do a lot of the math for you. The aptly named company, Carbon Footprint, offers a great carbon footprint calculator – just adjust your country and province appropriately, and away you go. (It’s helpful to have utility bills on hand when using this calculator).
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
There are so many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint it would be almost impossible to list them all here. A few things you can focus on:
- Your home. Opt for high-efficiency appliances and fixtures to reduce your footprint – furnaces with an AFUE of 90+ can save you money and help the environment. Get low-flow showerheads. Consider solar panels – we offer Winnipeg solar solutions. Update your home’s insulation. Use smart devices to manage how much electricity you use.
- Your transportation. Consider carpooling (once the pandemic is over), cycling, walking, busing, or other active and alternative means of getting around.
- Consumer products. Buy local. Reduce your meat intake. Shop in-store instead of having things shipped to your home.
- Apollo Energy in Denver suggests reusing products and moving away from disposable kitchenware.
Following these tips can have an important impact on your carbon footprint. You might also consider flying less often, showering for less time, and wearing warm clothes instead of turning up the heat. While one person’s impact might seem small, it’s like voting – when we all do it, change can happen.