How big is your carbon footprint?8 min readReading Time: 6 minutes
Before you start reading this article, here’s a small activity. Look around your room and observe what all is switched on. Is the TV power on? Is the fan working? What about the AC’s power switch? How many lights are on? If you are feeling adventurous, you might also want to check out the kitchen, the lobby, the washrooms, the lawn and other spaces in your home to observe what is on even when it’s not in use. Make a note of it and you are one step closer to determining your carbon footprint.
What is carbon footprint?
Your footprint is the mark you leave in the world. Similarly, you also leave a footprint on the environment. Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) that you release into the environment through day-to-day activities. It is not just about exhaling in the process of breathing but about much more.
Here’s a simple explanation.
Observe the diagram and think about ways through which you contribute to increased carbon levels. Since all of us use electrical products, machines etc in our everyday lives, we are all participants in the heating up of the world. Even a simple act of reading can add to your carbon footprint. Watch this video to know how!
Do you want to know your carbon footprint?
Check out the questionnaire, here.
How does the world heat up?
The planet gets its energy from the sun to grow. Earth uses up the energy it needs and sends the surplus back. However, there are some gases, like CO2 and CH4, in the atmosphere, called greenhouse gases, that absorb some of this energy and trap it in the atmosphere. This causes the earth to continuously warm up! Consequently, the balance that nature maintains is disturbed.
This is probably how it happens!
So, it is a big circle that is hard to escape from. But we can always try!
The good news is that it is in our control to fix it! And the efforts start at home, from your room and even from your desk. While we cannot eliminate carbon footprint and exist at the same time, we can always find ways to reduce it. After all, our choices determine our carbon footprint.
So, it’s all in our hands or, more accurately, feet.
So, how can we reduce our carbon footprint?
In these simple ways:
1. Limit the use of plastic
Did you know that a plastic bottle can take up to 1,000 years to decompose? Moreover, the heating up of plastic releases greenhouse gases. We want to avoid that as much as we can. So, always segregate plastic waste from other waste. This helps in ensuring that it gets recycled. This further ensures that new plastic products are not added to the planet.
Here’s a little inspiration: McDonalds has announced that it’s Going Green with its Happy Meals! All because of the effort of two schoolgirls in UK. The plastic toys will be replaced by books, soft toys and 3-D models.
This just proves that anything is possible if you are leading with the right intention.
2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The world is working on limited resources and energy and this is something not all of us think about when we buy our favourite cereal every week or want a new toothbrush every other month. This doesn’t mean you can’t buy anything at all. Follow the three Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Reduce: Be mindful of your consumption.
Reuse: It is a good idea to rethink utility before deciding on something as waste.
Recycle: Things that are not of use to you, can be made useful again for other purposes.
Learn more about the Rs, here.
3. Drive with friends and cycle (or walk) when you can
Whenever you get the chance, walk! Choose to walk or cycle if it’s a simple errand to the neighbourhood market or a visit to a friend who stays close by.
Not only will you be saving the planet, you will also get some exercise.
Who doesn’t like the feel of wind in one’s hair!
If your parents drive you to school, encourage carpools with other children for your neighbourhood. At the traffic lights, ensure that the engine is turned off.
Remember, larger the vehicle, the more energy it consumes.
4. Use energy-efficient electricity at home
Fluorescent and LED bulbs use less electricity than the regular incandescent bulbs. Just a simple transition can help the environment and reduce the monthly electricity bill at home, as well. In a recent report by The Council of Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), it was stated that only 25% of people in India are aware of energy-efficient appliances!
So, let’s spread awareness starting from our homes.
5. Save water
Ask yourself – Do I need to use a shower or can I bathe with a bucket of water? Even a 5 minute shower uses up 35 litres of water! The water that you use in the washroom goes through treatment plants that consume a lot of energy. It is beneficial to the environment if you only use the amount of water that you absolutely need.
6. Make a compost pit at home
A compost pit is a dumping pit at home where biodegradable waste from our kitchens and gardens is allowed to decay and turn into manure. This, in turn, reduces the load on landfills. Also, it makes the soil fertile and gives you a healthy garden!
7. Turn the lights off!
Even global warming is scared of the dark.
When not in use, turn off extra lights, fans etc in the house. Even at school, ensure that the extra switches are off when everyone leaves the classroom.
8. Plant more trees
Plants give out oxygen and cool the atmosphere. This combats the effect of greenhouse gases. It is safe to say that plants are nature’s original warriors.
Shall we join them?
Here is a simple exercise you can do. Every year on your birthday, plant a tree in your name for the earth! You can also track its growth with your growth. Can there be anything better than having a nature buddy?
Remember, little drops together make an ocean. Making small changes today can alter the course of the future of our planet. The steps you take today will alter the footprints you leave on the planet. Lead by example. You never know when you start inspiring change.
This planet is the only home we know and taking care of it is our responsibility.
Now, adorn a green cape and be the superhero of change!
Now, Owliver has given you a head start. What are you going to do to reduce your carbon footprint? Tell us in the comments below!