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How to measure your carbon footprint and track the impact of your changes.

We are all familiar with dietary choices being associated with different climate impacts: a carnivorous diet has a significantly greater impact than a vegan one. But what about organic vs. non-organic? Internationally or locally grown? What about the type of packaging it comes in? Every single thing you consume in the modern world has a unique carbon impact associated with it, including (but not limited to) personal hygiene, fashion sense, electronics usage, transportation, and even recreational activities. Carbon footprint calculators allow you to measure the size of your personal carbon footprint and to break down the relative significance of each of the different types of consumption in your total carbon emissions. Find out which of your lifestyle choices have the most potential to reduce your individual climate impact!

Presenter: Michelle Elmore

Presentation slides (PDF 1 mb)

ACTIONS – Carbon footprint

  • Explore carbon footprint calculators using the “advanced” mode when available.
  • Note the areas in your lifestyle with the greatest carbon emissions. Test yourself to reduce the impacts of these over time.
  • Learn about the impacts of the foods you consume, goods you buy, services you utilize, and activities you do, and just be cognizant of these impacts.
  • Reuse and recycle to reduce your carbon emissions.
  • Return to the carbon footprint calculator at a later date to see how much your emissions have decreased!

Calculator Links

  • The results of the Global Footprint Network’s calculator tell you how many Earths we would need for everyone to share your lifestyle and what your personal Overshoot Day is.
  • The CoolClimate Network of The University of California – Berkeley offers a detailed calculator that emphasizes the comparison between your personal impact and that of the average person within your demographic. It also recommends changes to lifestyle and consumption habits with modifiable options to weigh the impact of potential changes for you to consider.
  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s calculator has a helpful bar chart that updates in real time as your responses are added and offers suggested actions to offset your emissions.
  • The Inquiry to Student Environmental Action’s calculator is highly detailed and has a sliding bar that updates in real time as your responses are added.
  • Carbon Footprint is a UK-based resource that provides tools to calculate your personal carbon footprint and offers tips to reduce it.
  • The EPA’s calculator provides estimated carbon emission reductions based on alternative actions to be taken.
  • The United Nations offers a unique calculator which allows you to calculate the carbon emissions associated with a particular consumer good.
  • BBC News offers an interactive applet that lets you explore the greenhouse emissions associated with different types of foods.

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.