May 26, 2014 3 min read

Our carbon footprint is the yardstick by which we measure our impact on the world around us, and careful study reveals the truth in the saying "for every action there is an equal reaction" — especially when it comes to the planet.

Saying that we rack up HUGE carbon footprints as we make our way through the world is not an understatement. Every breath we take and every action we take echoes through the atmosphere. And sure, some footprints are a lot bigger than others, but only a few are so small that they don't have a noticeable impact. So instead of pointing fingers, let's explore some of the major factors that help to determine your unique carbon footprint.

Carbon Footprint When You Travel

Travel is one of the biggest carbon generators on the planet — and we're not just talking planes. Even your morning commute in a fossil fuel-powered vehicle generates massive amounts of emissions, which are then released into the air. This reduces air quality and can even make it difficult for some to breathe — especially those with chronic upper respiratory conditions like asthma.

Auto emissions contain:

  • Nitrogen
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Hydrocarbons

Alternatively, if you choose to walk or ride a bicycle, the only footprint you'll leave behind is the rubber that wears off of your soles or tires and the CO2 that you breathe out. So neutralizing your carbon footprint from daily transportation is possible, it just requires changing how you move through the world. When you do need to use a vehicle to get where you're going, use one that's as fuel efficient as possible and keep it in good working order.

Carbon Footprint in Your Home and Lifestyle

The utilities you use to heat and light your home also generate carbon footprints. Cleaning chemicals, laundry soap, shampoo, conditioner and almost any other product you use will impact the environment. Even candles that are burnt within the home can have an impact if the wicks used to make them are coated with chemicals. A complete energy assessment and environmental audit can provide you with a carbon footprint measurement and help you understand how your lifestyle affects your surroundings.

There are several chemicals found in cleaning supplies that contribute to water pollution and soil contamination, including:

  • Propylene glycol
  • Ammonia
  • Detergents
  • Chlorine
  • Dyes and fragrances

Easy Steps to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

You can help to reduce your carbon footprint in several ways. Getting an energy audit, reviewing the products you keep in your home, and making a list of your daily activities can help you take an accurate carbon footprint measurement. This will show you just how much you affect the world around you — and also show you where to concentrate your efforts to really effectively reduce your impact.

In the meantime, there are several ways you can minimize your carbon footprint today, including:

  • Walking when you can
  • Using natural cleansers and detergents
  • Buying energy efficient appliances
  • Turning off lights and appliances when you leave a room
  • Changing your HVAC system filters often
  • Limiting the amount of waste you produce

An accurate carbon footprint measurement can show you what your strengths — and your weaknesses — are. It can help you identify appliances that may need to be replaced, and even show you how to save energy and reduce the cost of your utilities. 

Want to do more? Consider planting a tree with us today!

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by Matt Hill

Chief Environmental Evangelist