The term carbon footprint has been gaining popularity in recent years, mainly due to increased awareness of climate change. A carbon footprint consists of the net greenhouse gases emitted by an entity, individual, organization or nation. Personal carbon calculators define a carbon footprint as the net carbon dioxide attributable to an individual over a period of one year. Since there are many different greenhouse gases, the specific gases must be converted into tons or kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent.
An ecological footprint is divided into four categories of consumption: carbon, goods and services, housing and food. The carbon category includes transportation and energy use in the home. An ecological footprint can also be broken down by types of ecosystems or biomes. These consist of forest land, grassland, farmland, and marine fisheries. In addition to consumption categories, waste must also be considered. Scientists have calculated that the average per capita ecological footprint is approximately 23.5 global hectares. On a renewable basis, there are only 15.7 global hectares available, which means that we are collectively exceeding the Earth’s ecological capacity by almost 50%.
There are several ways to reduce both an individual’s carbon footprint and the ecological footprint. One significant but controversial way is to go from a meat diet to a vegetarian one. According to a recent study, a vegetarian diet was found to be more environmentally friendly than a meat diet. It requires approximately 0.18 global hectares per person, while a meat diet (high in fat) requires almost five times as much, or 0.85 global hectares per person per year. There are many factors that contribute to the meat diet, including deforestation and the energy required for processing / transportation. And don’t forget the flatulence of the cow. Scientists have estimated that the life cycle of meat consumption contributes 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. More emissions result in a greater effect on the climate.
Another method of reducing a person’s ecological footprint is to buy local fresh food at farmers markets and preferably organically produced. It is important to eliminate transportation and refrigeration costs as much as possible. Organic food eliminates the environmental impact of pesticides (including transportation and packaging). Farmers markets generally incorporate fewer packaging materials and the food is fresh and requires no refrigeration or electricity. Greener everywhere.
When buying a new home, there are many green initiatives to consider. Take advantage of the house’s orientation towards the sun to heat in winter and cool in summer. Consider the rooftop gardens and soilless lawns on the outer walls, as shown by the Beijing Olympic exhibition hall. Wherever possible, passive solar heating, low-water fixtures, sustainable building materials, and other eco-design features should be incorporated.
It is estimated that households can reduce their water footprint by 60% simply by adopting a more conservative use of water. To further reduce your carbon footprint beyond what has already been suggested, try changing your driving habits; Avoid excessive acceleration / deceleration, drive with the lights off if possible, turn off the air conditioning. And don’t forget to take public transportation at every opportunity.