EBook Excerpt: Your Costs and Your Carbon Footprint

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Here is the next in our weekly series of excerpts from the EBook, “6 Weeks to a Greener Lifestyle.” See the note at the end of this post for more information. — Paula

Want to know how to calculate your carbon footprint? Here is great resource. Follow these steps, and you may be surprised by the result.

1. Go to the carbon footprint calculator.

2. Enter your country and state of origin. This will give you a more accurate estimate, as some factors vary by location. Note: As the site says, the calculations for secondary emissions are based on estimates developed by Carbon Footprint to illustrate the impact on the environment from your day-to-day activities.

3. Start with HOUSEHOLD and be prepared to enter the following information regarding your house: the number of people in your household and your consumption of electricity, natural gas, heating oil, coal, and the like. It may be helpful to have a year’s worth of utility bills handy.

4. FLIGHTS is an area where it’s key to be prepared by knowing where you traveled and in which class – yes, the class matters in this calculation, as you take up about twice as much space in first class.

5. CARS and MOTORBIKES are key categories, so be prepared to estimate your annual mileage.

6. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION is an area that requires some thought before answering, as you need to estimate how many miles you’ve gone on the following: bus, local or commuter train, long-distance train, tram, subway and taxi.

7. If you think you’re off the hook there, you have a surprise waiting for you. Causes for your secondary emissions include the following everyday habits: food preferences, organic produce, in-season food, imported food and goods, fashion, packaging, furniture and electrical appliances, recycling, recreation and even car manufacturer.

Currently, the global average stands at roughly six tons per person per year, but in the United States that figure leaps to more than 20 tons per person each year.

Why such a massive difference? In the United States (and in most industrialized countries), it is not unusual for people to drive their cars around 15,000 miles in a year. This alone creates a substantial amount of greenhouse gases. Americans also heat and cool their homes more, and use more energy with their household appliances. Additionally, Americans consume larger quantities of meat in their diets compared with people in most other nations. Americans also rely on such things as bottled water, plastics, and packaging to a greater degree than people in other countries. Taken together, these factors all cause increased energy consumption, higher greenhouse gas creation, and greater waste generation that lead to an increase in the size of the average individual carbon footprint.

It is useful to understand the factors on which your carbon footprint is based as a guide for how you can reduce waste and use resources more efficiently. Generally, the best place to start is in the home.

Steve Stillwater is passionate about developing a greener lifestyle, and his goal is to show you how to incorporate easy-to-implement green living ideas into your life. He blogs and writes regularly about green living ideas and provides a continuously updated green news feed on his website. For more information or to buy and download the full Ebook, “6 Weeks To A Greener Lifestyle,” just follow this link.

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