How to calculate your carbon footprint
When you look at environmental issues on a large scale, they may seem impossible to tackle. It's a global matter that needs to be addressed by government, corporations and individuals alike.
Yet, bit by bit, you contribute to air quality issues, waste build-up and water shortages every single day by driving, forgetting to recycle and taking long, hot showers. There are ways to reduce your greenhouse gas output, otherwise known as your carbon footprint, but first you have to know how big an impact you're making. Here's how to know just how deep of a footprint you provide.
Use a carbon footprint calculator
There are plenty of carbon footprint calculators available online, including nature.org, footprintnetwork.org, epa.gov and more. Any of these sites will ask detailed questions about your annual output, so be prepared by having a year's worth of power bills at hand. They will also ask you about your travel habits, from city bus to jet airliner. Try to answer to the best of your ability. While these calculators don't always provide a deeply accurate reading of your carbon footprint, you'll gather a general idea of how much CO2 you let into the atmosphere each year.
Do the math manually
This certainly isn't taking the easy route, but doing the math manually will help you gather a more accurate reading of how much CO2 you release into the atmosphere. You will need to estimate how many gallons of gas you use, then all that's required is some basic algebra. For example, if you want to know how much your 30 MPG vehicle puts out each year, divide the number of miles you drove last year by 30. If you drove 10,000 miles last year, you used about 333 gallons of gas. Divide your gallons used by 9 and you will get the number of kilograms of CO2 your vehicle emits. One kilogram equals about 2.2 pounds. In this case, our example vehicle emitted 37 kilograms, or about 81 pounds of CO2.
Take a quiz
Similar to using a carbon footprint calculator, but a bit less specific, online quizzes can quickly produce an estimated number for the CO2 emissions you and your family produce annually. The only problem is that the quizzes deal in more general questions and don't get down to specifics. If you just want to get a vague idea of your yearly output, sites like myfootpring.org, earthday.org and wired.com all have quizzes to suit your needs.
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