We do hear more and more often about carbon footprint in the media when climate change is mentioned. When I heard about it for the first time, I thought to myself that my home town of Katowice will have a spectacular one. After all, it’s the place where the most coal is extracted in Poland, right? 🙂 (note: carbon and coal in Polish is the same word, hence my confusion 😉 ).
But it turns out not to be the case. The more interested in ecology I got, the more I understood this concept. I understood how I impact the environment by carbon footprint – and I started looking for ways to minimize it.
And I will tell you about it now 🙂
Carbon footprint: every-day life and while traveling
Carbon footprint – what is it?
As agreed before, it has nothing to do with coal extraction in my home town of Katowice 😉
Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere in result of your actions. And not only yours as an individual. We can also count carbon footprint for societies, organizations, activities or lifestyles. This is how we estimate the negative impact of our actions on the environment.
Direct vs indirect emissions
You leave your carbon footprint in two ways – direct and indirect. For example, if you go for a trip by car, you emit greenhouse gases by burning fuel, directly.
But that’s not all. Now, let’s think about the process which had to take place before the car got to you. Before the fuel got to the gas station. The process of production of parts for your car, and then of the car itself. Extraction of crude oil, transport, processing it… all this caused emissions connected to your usage of the car. This is what we call indirect emissions.
Yes. If you start digging deeper and deeper in every action you take or every object you have, the amount of emissions behind them can overwhelm. But the purpose is not to kick yourself for every step you take – but to raise awareness of the problem and to give you more motivation to limit your carbon footprint.
Which leads me to the next point 🙂
How to reduce carbon footprint?
We have many effective ways to limit our carbon footprint. These are:
As you can see from the example above, almost every action we take leads to direct or indirect carbon footprint.
So the most efficient way of decreasing your carbon footprint is consuming less. Buy less products and services you don’t really need. Plan your shopping, always have a list and stick to it. So easy – but makes a huge difference!
Wise choice of transportation
I’m writing this text during coronavirus lockdown. Not the best time to mention transportation, if nobody is able to go anywhere. I totally hope though that sooner or later we will get back to normal – and again we will face these travel decisions which seem so abstract now. Where to go for a city break? Should I take a car or a train to cross my country?
Then it will be time to remember that our choice of transportation has huge impact on the environment. For the environment it is the best if we only take trains and buses. Or walk or bike 🙂 If you choose a car, try to fill it in with passengers. Even if you don’t plan a trip in a bigger group, you can announce it on FB groups or carpooling websites.
Planes are the worst choice for the environment. I will not discourage you from flying or I would be a huge hypocrite 😉 But remember that if there is an option, take a bus or a train. On shorter distances it may even be a cheaper, faster and better option. Also technology allows us to “visit” many places online thanks to 3D virtual tours – perhaps that’s the future solution worth considering, for the sake of our planet?
When you do shopping, stop for a moment and think how long way the products had to go before getting to your hands. Avocado that grew in Mexico, a banana from Panama, clothes from Bangladesh or China, equipment with parts coming from all over the world… not even mentioning ethical production, just the fact that the product had to travel thousands of kilometers to get to you does not help the environment.
It is much better if you support local businesses and choose products from your country. Both for the environment and for your local economy 🙂
Buy second hand
For a long time I’ve thought that buying second-hand products is not cool. Now I think it is totally not cool to buy new things when we have so many great second-hand options! You can often find better quality things in lower prices – and with no additional carbon footprint. Win-win-win! 🙂
Eat less meat and animal-based products
Don’t worry – you don’t need to turn from a meat-eater to a vege-terrorist who won’t touch meat ever again even with a stick. But eating less meat, introducing one or two meatless days in your week will already have a big impact on improving the situation of the environment!
Livestock needs a lot of land, uses huge amounts of water and emits more greenhouse gases than global transportation!
Try new flavors, introduce small changes in your diet when you like something. Try a vege burger, taste a vegan yoghurt, give marinating tofu a few different ways a shot, change cow milk with oat, soy or almond. Just try – I am sure you will like some of these products enough to keep them in your menu for good 🙂
You can read more about how a plant-based diet improves our environment here and here.
How to achieve carbon neutrality?
You can’t avoid fully emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Even locked-down on quarantine, we still consume and have an impact on our environment. So imagine after coming back to normal life 😉
Luckily we can compensate it in some way.
The answer is: carbon offset. You can use online calculators (I’m using this one) to calculate how much of greenhouse gases got emitted by your flights, your car, your every day habits.
Then, the system calculates how much money you should donate to a charity which decreases emissions somewhere else in the world.
Here are the calculations of my flights from 2019:
So even though you emitted the gases, you can compensate for it by reducing emissions somewhere else. Your money can fund for example new stoves somewhere in Africa and avoid the same amounts of gasses to get released there.
Don’t be afraid to check – the amounts are not high at all. Compensating all the above flights cost me around 25 euro.
It is not a perfect solution – but it certainly is better than no solution at all
And if you’re interested in ecology and eco-travels, check also:
- Eco Travel: 15 Sustainable Travel Tips For Beginners – I also mentioned carbon offset here.
Also for the time of quarantine check these 10 travel-related and fun things to do at home.
And if you found this post interesting, share it on Facebook, Twitter or mention it on Instagram! 🙂 Thanks!