Save the planet: what everyone can do to reduce our carbon footprint

What is a carbon footprint?

The carbon footprint is the aggregate of all greenhouse gas emissions, directly or

indirectly accompanying any activityperson, organization or produced by a product, event, city, in terms of carbon dioxide. It is this gas that is mainly a product of human activity. Together with methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases, it traps heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming.

The carbon footprint concept comes from an ideaEcological footprint, proposed in 1992 by environmental scientist William Reese. It was later developed by sustainable development specialist Mathis Wackernagel in his dissertation. The name "carbon footprint" comes from carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide, CO₂), which is a component of greenhouse gases. The indicator, which is derived by recalculating the volumes of all emitted greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide, freons, etc.) into carbon dioxide, is measured in tons of CO₂equivalent.

How do you calculate your carbon footprint?

Usually, the bulk of a person's carbon footprint comes from transportation, housing and food.

Any human activity or productionthe product has a carbon footprint. For example, clothing is produced in a factory that runs on electricity from fossil fuels (statistically, most often coal, gas or fuel oil). Food production also has emissions. Like their delivery to stores, most of the transport uses hydrocarbon fuels. For heating and lighting homes, oil, gas or coal are also burned, and garbage is sent to landfills, where it forms methane, or it is burned, during which CO₂ is released.

You can start the process by calculating your carbon footprint here. You will need to know the following:

  • Approximately how many kilometers have you traveled by car, bus, train or plane.
  • Energy use in the home.
  • How much do you spend on purchases.
  • The composition of the diet.

The easiest way to calculate your carbon footprint is withonline calculator. For example, for flights, it is calculated based on emissions from the combustion of jet fuel per flight, for a trip by car - from fuel combustion per route. Air ticket search aggregators, for example, in Russia, show which flights are "greener". How much the Earth will cost your trip can be found in the Russian Railways app when choosing a ticket. You can also find out the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the production of electricity and heat. And to calculate the carbon footprint of the apple you ate for breakfast, you need to know where it came from and how it got to you. Therefore, in the case of consumer goods, the calculation methodology is based on averaged estimates using statistical data.

Why count your carbon footprint?

Governments, research organizations andBusinesses rely on this indicator to develop programs to reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions at the level of countries, industries and individual industries. But to reduce or compensate for their personal carbon footprint is within the power of every man in the street.

Regardless of your outcome, here are some things that can help you reduce your personal impact on the environment. So how do you reduce emissions?

Think about a vehicle

In November 2017, carbon dioxide emissions fromtransport exceeded emissions from electricity generation as the main source of greenhouse gases. Why? Electricity production is shifting from using coal to more renewable sources and natural gas.

According to a 2017 study byby scientists from the University of Lund and the University of British Columbia, ditching a car for a year could save about 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide - slightly more than a transatlantic round-trip flight. How can you stop using your car? Try taking a train, bus, or better yet, cycling.

But let's be realistic. Most likely, many of the readers will use a private car. Here are some tips to make your trip more climate-friendly:

  • Reduce throttle and brake pressure - efficient driving helps reduce emissions.
  • Service your vehicle regularly to keep it more efficient.
  • Check your tires. Proper tire inflation can reduce emissions. “Low tire pressure will hurt your fuel economy,” said Mr. West.
  • Air conditioning and heavy city driving can dramatically increase emissions. Avoid them as often as possible.
  • Use cruise control on long journeys - in most cases it will help you save gas.
  • Do not burden the car with unnecessary things that are not needed during the trip.
  • Drive co-workers and friends - this way you distribute the emissions among the number of people in the car.

When buying a new car from The New York Timesadvises evaluating vehicles on a website where they are rated for performance. Consider production emissions with this app. Don't forget that the production of electric vehicles also has a carbon footprint. By the way, cars with lower emissions are often cheaper to operate.

Pay attention to the house

Making even small changes to processeshome heating, water and electricity consumption can go a long way. A versatile carbon footprint calculator will help you calculate how much emissions are occurring over a given period of your life from air travel, car trips, housekeeping. On the site, you can select the time period that interests you: for example, one month or just a week - and the desired action: a trip by car, flight by plane, maintenance of the house. After completing the calculation, you can offset or neutralize your emissions by taking part in one of the service projects that will help to improve the environment.

Here's what you can do at home now:

  • Use a programmable or smart thermostat if you have one. Keep the blinds closed to maintain a stable temperature inside.
  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Unplug electrical appliancesto reduce energy consumption.
  • Buy a laptop, not a desktop. Laptops use less power for charging and operating.
  • Replace lighting. LED bulbs consume up to 85 percent less energy, last up to 25 times longer and are cheaper to run than incandescent bulbs.
  • Do not install refrigerator temperature and freezer lower than necessary.
  • Replace old refrigerators. They consume too much energy. If it is between 15 and 20 years old, it is not difficult to dispose of it.

Reduce consumption and recycle waste

Buying fewer items you don't need is the first step. Other than that, there are simple ways to reduce the impact of shopping.

According to the World Resources Institute, per person20 items of clothing are produced per year. This is because of "fast fashion": clothes that are produced quickly, cheaply and unstable. As the price of our clothing falls, the environmental (and human) costs rise.

Here are some tips to help you minimize the negative consequences when shopping for clothes:

  • Look for the Fairtrade logo or similar. This means your clothes are made from sustainable materials. Take a look at this Transparency Index from Fashion Revolution.
  • Ask yourself: how many times will I wear this? Don't buy clothes that wear out quickly or that you barely wear.
  • Different materials have different impacts on the environment, so this must also be considered. Think wool over synthetics.
  • Donate old clothes... You can include old clothes in specialcontainers or stores - for example "Thank you" or "Lepta". Some animal shelters, such as Rzhevka in St. Petersburg, also take old sheets and towels as bedding.

As for waste, most of it ends up in landfills anyway. Here are some tips to make sure your waste goes to the right place:

  • Find the number inside the triangle at the bottom of the plastic containers. They indicate what kind of resin was used and whether the container is recyclable.
  • Recycle paper, recycle steel and cans.
  • Before you throw it away, ask: Can I reuse or repair this?
  • Give or sell working electronics if you just want to upgrade your gadgets.
  • Dispose of broken electronics. Many local electronics stores offer free recycling programs for old products.
  • Contact your local car dealer to dispose of car batteries.
  • Do not throw non-recyclable materials into the trash can. Avoid garden hoses, sewing needles, propane cans or cans, non-empty aerosol cans, hazardous waste and syringes, broken glass and broken light bulbs.
  • Note, how to properly dispose of bottles... You must remove the cover and the packaging film with the label from them. Also empty and flush containers for foodstuffs before placing them in the trash can. A dirty container can ruin an entire batch of recyclable materials.
  • Agree with the management company of your house or residential complex about installation of containers for separate waste collection.
  • If you do not have the resources to hand over your garbage for recycling, use the services of intermediaries, for example eco-taxi services... There are several of them and work in many cities. A courier arrives and picks up your trash for a small fee. Experts will also advise you on how to properly sort your waste.

Burning fossil fuels such asnatural gas, coal, oil and gasoline, increase the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is one of the main factors of the greenhouse effect and global warming. Everyone can help reduce the need for fossil fuels, which in turn slows global warming through smarter use of energy.

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