Eco-Living Magazine

How to Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Posted on the 02 May 2011 by Livinggreenor

I just published an article over at 1 Mom’s Mission on ten simple ways to lower your carbon footprint and thought I’d expand a little bit on ways to lower your carbon footprint.  I recommended two different carbon footprint quizzes that will provide you with a personalized plan on how you can lower your carbon footprint.  I thought I’d put myself out there and show you what the recommendations were for me and our household.

Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator

The Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator took all of 3 minutes to complete.  What I like about this calculator, is that it allows you to answer the questions for either just yourself or your entire household.  If you’re like me and live with another person (or people) who may not be quite as eco-friendly as you, this is a great feature.

Want to Learn How to Lower Your Carbon Footprint? Take a Quiz!

As you can see from the results, I’m WAY below the United States average coming in at 9.2 tons of CO2 per year (vs. 27 tons of CO2 per year).  But, I’m still a little bit higher than the world average person at 5.5 tons per year.  The graph shows you your highest hitting areas with mine being home energy and food/diet.  I was curious why my home energy was so high since we have all energy efficient lighting, a tankless water heater, an energy efficient furnace, etc. so I went back and saw this is based on what state and what type of dwelling you live in.  Some states generate cleaner electricity than others and after playing around with the state drop-down, Oregon is actually doing pretty good.

I already knew there wasn’t much in the way of improving my food and diet.  While I don’t eat meat with every meal, I do still eat it almost every day of the week, which has a very large carbon footprint.  I know this and have known this so I try and do my part by purchasing grass-fed beef whenever I can (I still have some left over from a share last year) and always purchase my meat from local farmers.  Either way, I was happy with the number.

EPA’s Household Emissions Calculator

My second calculator recommendation was the Environmental Protection Agencies Household Emissions Calculator.  This took me a little bit longer as I needed to have gas and electric averages (maybe ten minutes).  You answer questions based on your entire household, so if you have someone who despises living green, your numbers are definitely going to be quite a bit higher – just don’t be surprised!

It takes you through a series of questions about your current emissions and then asks you questions about ways you’re going to reduce your emissions.  I think the EPA could have done a better job with this section or at least explained it a bit better.  Or, maybe it’s just me and I prefer the method that the Nature Conservancy used.  They subtract things from each of the sections as you’re answering each question.  In the end, it’s basically the same but it can be slightly confusing.

Want to Learn How to Lower Your Carbon Footprint? Take a Quiz!

Want to Learn How to Lower Your Carbon Footprint? Take a Quiz!

The last page shows you your estimated savings, your total estimated savings (CO2 emissions) and your new annual CO2 emissions.  According to the EPA, each member in our household (two of us) use approximately 3,376 pounds of CO2 per year while the average person in the United States uses 20,750.  Wow!  That’s quite a difference!  Even with our meat eating obsession and gas guzzlers we’re doing quite well!

Want to Learn How to Lower Your Carbon Footprint? Take a Quiz!
I recommend giving each a try – as you can see, they each tell about the same story, but they present it slightly different.  It only takes a few minutes and well, it was surely an eye opener for me!

If you take either of the footprint calculators, please feel free to share your numbers in the comments section below!


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