In order to preserve the earth, any small steps we take will be useful in the future. One small thing that can be done to help reduce the impact of air pollution is to understand our personal carbon footprint. What exactly is a carbon footprint and how is it measured? Here’s the answer.

What is a Carbon Footprint?

According to Mike Berners-Lee, professor at the University of Lancaster in the UK and author of The Carbon Footprint of Everything, carbon footprint is the total of all greenhouse gas emissions resulting from a single production process or activity that we do related to that product.

In most developed countries, these products and activities are grouped into household energy use, transportation, food, and others. Some of them are products that we buy, ranging from tableware, clothes, cars, to electronic devices.

Each of these activities and products leaves their own carbon footprint which is the combined sum of the products they buy and use, the activities they perform, and so on.

In other words, someone who eats meat every day will leave a higher carbon footprint than his vegan friend. However, it is possible that those who are vegan also leave a high carbon footprint, because they drive every day. Observers also conclude that a person’s carbon footprint tends to increase as wealth increases.

In his book, Berners-Lee writes that the average citizen of the world has a carbon footprint equivalent to the emission of seven tons of carbon dioxide per year.

How to Measure Personal Carbon Footprint

Calculating the carbon footprint is very important, but the calculation is quite complex if you want really accurate results. Even so, we can still do a rough calculation of the carbon footprint we produce every day. There are several online media that we can use to calculate it, namely the Carbon Footprint Calculator and Calculate Your Carbon Footprint from The Nature Conservancy.

The calculation is simple, we only need to enter information about household energy use, food consumption, transportation used every day, diet, shopping, and other daily activities. From this information, the calculator will automatically show the carbon footprint and the amount of greenhouse gases used to support these activities.

By knowing the amount of our personal carbon footprint, it is hoped that awareness to switch to a sustainable lifestyle will be higher. Measuring a personal carbon footprint is also useful for understanding the direct impact of our daily activities on the environment.