In 2022, many people want to know how they can live more sustainably; the best way to begin is by using an individual carbon footprint calculator to learn about your role in climate change.
By understanding the personal impact you have on the world’s ecological resources, as well as the emissions your lifestyle generates, you can begin to reduce your environmental impact in meaningful ways.
And… it only takes 60 seconds.
Individual Carbon Footprint Calculator Measures Your Eco Footprint in 60 Seconds!
Use a Carbon Footprint Calculator To Better Understand Your Role in Climate Change
By using an individual carbon footprint calculator, you gain a better understanding of how much your lifestyle impacts the global climate on a yearly basis.
Most online footprint tool specifically focus on the carbon emissions generated by various areas of your life, including where you live, your home energy usage, transportation and travel, spending, and diet. These statistics are unique to every individual and depend entirely on location, routine, and personal choices.
For those of you looking for a quick estimation of your carbon footprint, the EPA provides average values based on your location. However, for better and more accurate results, you will need to gather your own data. The easiest way to do this is to procure utility bills (including electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, etc.) for the last year, and have a general idea of your living expenses.
Where You Live: Location Matters in Emissions Measurements
Where you live has an impact on your carbon footprint because different energy sources are used around the world. For example, in the United States, people in one state like Pennsylvania get electricity from many coal burning power plants. While people in another state, like Alabama (where the TVA powers many homes), have their electricity generated by hydropower, which has a much smaller emissions factor.
An online calculator should incorporate data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID), as well as the average kilowatt hour emissions for other countries like Great Britain or China, because your country’s carbon footprint impacts your individual one.
Home Energy Use: Electricity, Natural Gas, and Coal
The same conditions impact the measurement of your emissions from household size and home energy use. For example, is your home heated with natural gas? There’s a different emissions factor for that versus electricity.
An individual carbon footprint calculator will also ask about the size of your house, because square footage impacts how much energy is required. Most calculators will give you the options of small, medium, large or super large, all of which are based on US averages. Home energy use questions are important (like what type of lighting you use, whether you keep appliances off, and whether you have green energy options) because each aspect of your household has its own unique carbon footprint.
Transportation and Travel
It may become more challenging to find exact statistics for transportation. Most calculators will ask that you select car size which can easily be found either in the manual included in your car or on the car manufacturers website. The same is true for when it asks you to enter actual MPG or actual MPG select.
However, when an emissions calculator for cars uses fuel amounts and specific vehicle make and models, the result can be much more specific. You just need to figure up approximately how much you spend on gas each week, and then divide the amount by the average price per gallon you pay.
If you spend $65.00 per week to fill your car or truck’s fuel tank, and the price you’re paying is $4.00 per gallon, then $65/$4 equals 16.25 gallons of gasoline each week. Enter that amount into the individual carbon footprint calculator and you can get your exact emissions.
And remember, the fuel for your boat and any air travel you undergo also influences your individual carbon footprint.
Your personal spending and ‘expendable income’ is directly related to your individual carbon emissions footprint. Data shows that higher income brackets (and especially the wealthiest in the world) are the biggest emissions generators.
So spending emissions should also be measured in a way that uses ratios based on industry emissions.
Your diet plays a key role in carbon emissions as well. For example, purchasing fresh fruit has less of a footprint then purchasing canned fruit. The measurement is based on how much of a footprint was generated to produce, process and transport an item, so naturally fruit that needs to be processed in a factory will have a higher footprint.
The same is true for meats and dairy products. These items, along with alcohol, have very high carbon footprints, which is why switching to a few meatless meals a week can have a big impact on lowering your footprint.
Once you have input all of the necessary information into these categories, the calculator will provide you with several statistics including:
- Your current total carbon emissions
- Your new total after planned actions
- The average for your country (so you can compare how your footprint measures against the average per capita footprint of others in your specific country)
All of these numbers will be calculated in pounds of carbon emissions over a year. Other calculators may provide these same numbers according to tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.
Once you’ve calculated your personal emissions, many offer tips and ways to reduce your carbon cost to the planet, providing options for becoming more sustainable.
Moreover, you can get the kids involved in the push for greater sustainability and eco-friendly living options. Use a kids carbon footprint calculator to bring the ideas and concepts down to a level they can appreciate, and then get their ideas on how the whole family can reduce their environmental impact.
By Limiting Energy Usage, You Can Work To Preserve Nature
By making changes to your lifestyle and investing in offset projects, you can reduce your carbon footprint to zero.
However, you should recognize that most online calculators do not provide a comprehensive overview of your life. They tend to show you the major carbon emitters in your life, but often forget to include things like how you source your food, what clothing brands you buy from, and even your use of streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, etc.
These background elements are not free from creating carbon emissions. They may not have as much of an impact as energy use, transportation, and waste, but they do have an impact.
And that’s the problem. Most nations and individuals are dependent on fossil fuels, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lessen your role in it.
By consulting the information provided by the footprint calculator and making choices within your means and abilities, you can decide how best to make your lifestyle more sustainable. And, if you have already converted to a more sustainable lifestyle, you can invest in carbon offsets like Daily Driver Carbon Offset to further the cause and erase more emissions.
That’s the best part about an individual carbon footprint calculator. It is a no-judgement analysis of your lifestyle that provides you with all the information to lessen your greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing Your Personal Carbon Footprint
Here are some practical suggestions to get you started on lessening your footprint, provided they are within your means and will not negatively impact your health:
- Limit your meat and dairy intake: Globally, food production, specifically that of meat and dairy, is responsible for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. By some estimations, if you switched to a vegan diet, you could cut your footprint by about 20 percent. However, if you can’t go meat free, then the next best thing is to buy and eat locally. While this does tend to cost more money, it cuts out the significant emissions associated with transportation.
- Limit your driving: If you can, limit how much you drive. This can be done by combining errands, shopping in larger amounts but only once a week, or through other routines that limit the time you spend in a car. You could also consider using public transportation more often, but that’s only really possible if you are living and working in a city. However, there are always ways to cut down on fuel emissions, including carpooling with friends or relatives.
- Buy less, buy better: The fashion industry is dominated by fast fashion which essentially means that most of the clothing that you wear is produced cheaply, unethically, and without consideration for the environment. In fact, the fashion industry is a prominent culprit in global greenhouse gas emitters. The best way to become sustainable then is by limiting the amount of the clothes that you buy on a yearly basis and buying from better, more sustainable brands.
Although some changes can increase the cost of living, there are a number of ways to reduce your footprint and save money.
For example, by investing in dryer balls, you can reduce the amount of electricity you use to dry clothes which will, in turn, reduce your electricity bills. The same goes for upgrading the seals on your doors and windows. It doesn’t cost very much to do, but can have a positive impact on both the environment and your wallet in the long run.
Of course, you can also partner with one of the top carbon offset providers to substantially curtail or eliminate completely your carbon emissions.
With a mixture of individual and collective change, there is still time to lessen the consequences of climate change, and the best way to start is by using an individual carbon footprint calculator to determine how you can make a difference.