Carbon in the Atmosphere

What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is technically defined as “the amount of greenhouse gases and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by something (as a person’s activities or a product’s manufacture and transport) during a given period,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
iStock-carbon footprint
What things count towards your Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint takes into account things like the cost in terms of energy and CO2 emissions of: shipping a product to your local supermarket, of growing crops, of manufacturing an iPad, of commuting to work, of energy use in the home, and thousands of other things. Each of these things counts towards our individual carbon footprints, our local community, out national footprint, and our Footprint over the entire world.
How is a Carbon Footprint different from an Ecological Footprint?
A carbon footprint only looks at the cost of our actions in terms of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, directly contributing to climate change. An Ecological Footprint looks at all the resources we use in our everyday lives, from energy to water to minerals to the waste we produce. This is commonly measured by the number of “earths” it would take to support the entire world’s population if we all were to live like one society or individual.

How do I know what my footprint is?
There are all kinds of calculators out on the internet for both Carbon and Ecological Footprints. Here are a few of them:
For Carbon Footprints-
The Nature Conservancy-

For Ecological Footprints-
Global Footprint Network-
Ecological Footprint-
World Wildlife Foundation-

So What Can You Do?
There are all kinds of ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Here are a few simple ideas. For more ideas see resources at the bottom of the page and the footprint calculators above for ideas specific to your lifestyle.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Eat more vegetables, less meat
  • Buy local foods
  • Use less plastic and Styrofoam
  • Use energy efficiency appliances
  • Walk more, drive less, carpool if possible
  • Plant a tree
  • Make a compost pile
  • Turn off the water when brushing teeth
  • Change your light bulbs to Compact Fluorescents or LED’s
  • Have all your electronics plugged into a power strip that you can shut off when they are not in use, reducing your energy bill as well as your carbon footprint. You can even get smart one that automatically shuts down power to electronics not in use.
  • When buying your next computer, pick a laptop over a desk top.
  • Opening your curtains during the day in winter and closing them during the day during the summer can make a difference in how hard your heating or air conditioning has to work to keep your temperature stable