Carbon footprint is often described as 'the measure of impact that human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide'. In other words, carbon footprint is simply a gauge of the carbon dioxide emissions; the impact that any human activity has on the environment measured in carbon emissions.
Normally, carbon footprint is measured in units, tons or kilograms of CO2. While carbon footprint is mainly produced through burning of fossil fuels for heating and transportation, it can be reduced by carbon offsetting. Carbon footprint is largely categorized into two parts:
Direct carbon footprint: This is a measure of the direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels which includes domestic energy consumption and transportation. As such carbon emissions are under our direct control, it is easier to offset the carbon footprint with carbon credits.
Indirect carbon footprint: This refers to a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions like the energy used in shipping goods. They are generally associated with their manufacture and eventual disposal. This can be offset by either changing suppliers or reducing consumption and thus earning carbon credits.
Reduce carbon footprint at home
The wellbeing of Mother Earth depends on our care. The more electricity, gas and fuel we use at home, the higher the level of personal carbon footprint. Simple changes in the behavior patterns around our house and neighborhood can significantly reduce the carbon footprint.
Reduce carbon footprint at work
These days more and more organizations are resorting to video conferencing and telepresence to reduce carbon footprints. Telecommuting enables people to work from home while still being fully engaged in the work place. Video communications saves time, money and carbon emissions and also increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. It helps unite purchasers, clients, sales staff and professionals in real time without travel.
Older vehicles in offices can be improved by fitting continuous regenerating traps and wind deflector kits. Maintaining correct tyre pressure is imperative to reduce fuel consumption. Bio diesel, LPG and electricity can be considered as alternative to fossil fuels as these cut CO2 emissions by reducing the frequency of deliveries.
In offices, dripping taps and costly leaks should be dealt with promptly. The water used to flush toilets can be limited by switching to dual flush models. Towel reuse schemes can be used in hotels for guests and restaurants can use filtered tap water instead of bottled water. Grey waste water can be used to water plants or flush toilets.
It would help to swap single use items like plastic cups and opt for reusable options. Buying in bulk saves money and reduces landfill. Similarly, it would be good to liaison with suppliers to reduce packaging and instead seek environmentally friendly packaging. Biodegradable items suitable for composting can be encouraged.
Recycling lowers the cost of waste disposal and recycling products like aluminum can help raise money for charities.
Organizations like the Carbon Trust provide energy efficient loans. Alternative energy sources like solar power can be used to heat water. Another way to reduce heating costs is to install a ground source heat pump.
Switching to power generation from sustainable sources like wind power and investing in solar panels and wind turbines can be thought of. As such financial assistance including grants are available for companies to proceed in this direction.
Even building designs at places of work can be made greener and organizations like The Carbon Trust offers free site surveys and research and consultancy to enable sustainable and efficient buildings. Low cost ways to improve building efficiency include improving insulation and fitting draught excluders on windows.
Ideally the staff in the organization can be encouraged to participate in the green programs and it would be best to have 'green champions' among staff to oversee progress.
Tips to reduce carbon footprint