how to calculate your carbon footprint at home

What is your personal carbon footprint?

Giorgia Barbiero

Have you ever wondered how your daily activities affect the environment? From the time you wake up until you go to bed, you perform a large number of actions that consume resources and energy and generate a certain level of greenhouse gases (GHG). Today we are going to talk about the carbon footprint, specifically on a personal level.

You probably think that the majority of GHG emissions do not come from the common actions of most of the population. However, if each of us knew the environmental impact of our daily lives, we would become truly aware and would certainly try to make changes in our lives.

A grain of sand, apparently, does nothing, but if we add your grain and my grain with those of others, we will create a beautiful beach.

Small changes can lead to extraordinary effects, or something similar to what the chaos theory says (or the butterfly effect).

Want to know more?

Keep reading

how to calculate your carbon footprint at home

Defining the carbon footprint

First of all, let’s find out what this footprint is all about.

“It is an environmental metric that calculates the total GHG emissions generated, directly and indirectly, by a person, a group, an organization, a company or even a product or service” (definition provided by Greenpeace).

This footprint is measured in mass of CO2 equivalent and once we know this data (we will discuss later how to make the calculation), we can implement a reduction or offset strategy.

The measurement is made in terms of carbon dioxide since it is the most abundant GHG gas.

Knowing our footprint is important because it allows us to understand with greater certainty how GHGs contribute to global warming and accelerate climate change.

Measurement perspectives

  • Business or organization/company
  • Product or service life cycle
  • Personal or individual
  • Events
  • Territorial
  • Industrial

We are going to focus on the individual perspective. How you can calculate your own footprint and how you can reduce or offset it. Shall we?

how to calculate your carbon footprint at home

Calculate your carbon footprint

If you google “calculate my carbon footprint”, you will see many options. There are more and more initiatives on how to reduce your footprint and that is always positive news.

To explain what data you will need to provide, we will use the HuellaCO2 calculator as a reference.

The data needed to make up the calculation are divided into the following sections:

  • Some introductory data (age, occupation, place of residence, level of education and gender)
  • Household energy consumption
  • Food expenditure
  • Clothing consumption
  • Use of transportation
  • Use of technology and others

As you indicate your consumption, the calculator itself will convert everything into CO2 terms and at the end of all the steps, you will be able to view and download your carbon footprint report.

Of course, there are more calculation platforms, but roughly speaking all of them will ask you for this type of information.

Okay, and now that you know the impact of your activity, what are you going to do?

Acting, of course.

how to calculate your carbon footprint at home

Ten ideas to reduce or offset your footprint

There are as many ideas as there are fish in the ocean (thank goodness…) and here we bring you a handful of them to help you on your way to reducing or offsetting your individual impacts.

Do you take note?

  1. Adopt native plants: We are well aware of the CO2 absorption power of plants. Try to adopt plants that are native to your area and do not require too much water. If you can plant a tree, so much better; if not, why not make a vertical garden?
  2. Consider your transportation options: Have you evaluated all forms of public transportation to get around? Public transport is preferable to private transport, not only because of car sharing, but also because cities are making efforts to make their bus fleets more sustainable or the rail network more energy efficient.
  3. Private vehicle in good condition: If you have evaluated all the options and still need your own vehicle to get around, try to keep it in good condition. Make the necessary revisions and, if you can afford it, always opt for the most efficient models or the current alternatives (hybrid or electric).
  4. Reduce meat consumption: For that piece of meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) to reach your table, it requires a high expenditure of energy. We still live in a world in which meat comes mostly from large farms, which, in addition to spending too much energy, contributes to animal abuse in one of its maximum exponents.
  5. Eliminate from your life any disposable product: We know it’s complicated because the market still doesn’t make it easy. However, using your home bags to go to the supermarket; or carrying a reusable water bottle or a thermos with your favorite hot drink are already small actions that do much more than you think.
  6. Keep your refrigerator clean: Excessive packaged products, as well as having the freezer full of ice, makes the whole appliance require more power to cool and, therefore, more electricity.
  7. Make a responsible use of technology: Many of us are not able to imagine the amount of energy required to use the internet in general, with its consequent GHG emissions. Servers, video games, applications, cell phones, computers, etc. are having a negative impact on this. We will address this topic in depth in a future article.
  8. Get involved in a reforestation project: Either financially or with your own hands. Try to find out which projects are close to where you live and volunteer. If you prefer, you can participate with donations on platforms such as Reforestum or CeroCO2.
  9. Prefer second-hand items: Before buying anything, consider going to second-hand stores and give it a second life.
  10. Try to base your lifestyle on the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

There are many ideas, but we hope that this decalogue has helped you and has contributed to your brain to generate many more.

Do you share them? Leave your advice in the comments 🙂