Big Foot – Little Foot
A carbon footprint relates to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Most carbon dioxide is emitted from burning fuel and using power. This means your transportation and electrical use are the biggest contributors to your carbon footprint. Almost everything you do, however, contributes to your carbon footprint in some way. Manufacturing your clothes produced CO2. The farmer who grew your food produced CO2 when he plowed the field with his tractor. Your coffee produced CO2 while it was being shipped from where it was grown and processed.
A company that is trying to reduce its carbon footprint could do things like
o Reduce its energy use – This has a direct correlation to the amount of CO2 used.
o Substitute fossil fuel energy use with solar or wind energy – This allows a business to continue doing what it was doing before but reduces the CO2 directly produced. (Of course CO2 may have been produced as the solar panels or windmill were being built. -- None of this is too easy.)
o Buy carbon credits – This is a somewhat controversial practice that lets a company reduce their footprint without changing what they do.
o Buy products produced closer to them – This reduces the CO2 associated with transporting products the company uses
o Plant trees – Trees take in CO2 and convert it to oxygen thus actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere. They store the CO2 in their leaves, stems and trunks so when the tree dies the CO2 is re-released into the atmosphere. (That is why there is a big concern about beetles killing off HUGE amounts of timber in the western US and Canada, and the loss of so much rainforest. With each tree lost, we lose the ability to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and more CO2 is released into the atmosphere.)
There are lots of different footprint calculators on the web. It is very complicated and most of the calculators are very simplistic. Our site has links to several or you can just look up “carbon footprint” in a web search engine.