Is your footprint green?

Spring finally arrives this week! With the warmer weather, we can expect rain and, of course, mud. As you head outside, someone at your home may say, “Don’t forget to wear your boots.” Then when you come back inside, you probably hear, “Please don’t track in mud.” Whether it is a voice in your own head or that of the person who cleans the floor at your house, you can imagine the muddy footprints you could make on the kitchen floor. What a mess!

Your “carbon footprint” can also make a mess and has an even greater impact on our environment.  A carbon footprint measures how much carbon dioxide your actions create. Large amounts of carbon dioxide are released whenever anything containing carbon is burned—like fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. When things are manufactured and transported, they require energy. Most of that energy is made from fossil fuels which release carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Almost everything we do and everything we use causes carbon dioxide to be created. The more energy we use and the more things we buy, the bigger our carbon “footprint.” You can imagine that when we add our carbon footprints together, human activity leaves a big footprint.

You can choose actions that create a smaller carbon footprint. For example, carpooling or taking a bus leads to fewer miles being driven and a smaller carbon footprint. Growing a garden or shopping at a farmers market means more of your food is grown close to home and not shipped as far, yielding a smaller footprint. Making new aluminum cans from recycled cans and new paper from old paper require less energy during manufacturing, leading to a smaller footprint. Turning off lights, TVs, and computers when you aren’t using them saves energy (and money) and creates a smaller footprint.

How much impact do you have on the environment and how large is your personal carbon footprint? Try an online “Carbon Footprint Calculator.” Once you get the results, think about what changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint.

Here are five simple things you can do to make a difference right away:

  1. When you are done charging your phones, iPod/MP3 player, tablet, or laptop, unplug the cords.
  2. If you take your lunch to work, pack it in a reusable lunch bag or lunch box.
  3. Whenever possible, ride your bike or walk.
  4. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
  5. Turn off lights, fans, TVs, and computers when you leave the room.

For a few more ideas, check Going Green: What Does It Mean?

Thanks to Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District for the information in this article, a version of which appeared in its Spring 2015 edition of Trash Talk!

Photo Credit: © iStock.com | hddigital

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