What is Your Carbon Footprint and How to Reduce It

A short guide to understanding carbon footprint and the many options for reduction if you're aiming to lessen the environmental impact of your business.

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Over the past few decades, the rapid acceleration of climate change has endangered people’s livelihoods. In addition, from a business perspective, it emerged as a critical challenge for many industries. Businesses might not be able to survive unless they understand their carbon footprint and how to reduce it.

This intensification of climate change is caused by people’s carbon footprint and the unchecked release of other greenhouse gases such as methane into the atmosphere.

Apart from Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and ozone are main greenhouse gases. These gases trap the heat in the earth’s atmosphere and cause climate change through a starting process known as the greenhouse effect. Carbon footprints thus aid in understanding the impact of activities on the environment by roughly estimating the gases added to the atmosphere.

To adapt to a net-zero world, it is essential to understand the carbon footprint and options for reduction. By doing this, you will be able to find ways to reduce emissions and consequently lessen the environmental impact of your business.

In this article, we take a close look at the concept of the carbon footprint, discuss why it’s critical to comprehend this idea and discuss organisational techniques for reducing your environmental impact.

Green trees under clouds

What is the Carbon Footprint?

The phrase “carbon footprint” refers to the overall concentration of greenhouse gases that people emit through their activities into the atmosphere. It is calculated in emissions per year and head. The primary sources of the carbon footprint of individuals are energy consumption in buildings for heating and electric appliances, gas-powered transportation in cars and planes, disposal of non-recyclable waste, and consumption of diets high in meat.

Tools such as the Pawprint App help you calculate your carbon footprint and reduce it.

While each person has a unique impact on the environment via individual carbon footprint, it’s vital to remember that most greenhouse gas emissions come from industry and business operations. For instance, businesses which use a lot of non-renewable energy when producing goods, packaging goods in materials that aren’t compostable or recyclable, and using inefficient vehicles like aeroplanes or long-haul trucks for transport frequently have a significant carbon footprint and release a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As a result, experts in these fields often need to pay close attention to techniques for reduction and offset.

Why is understanding carbon footprint crucial?

Because the carbon footprint helps understand human activity’s effect on the environment, it is crucial to understand what it is. From here, individuals and businesses can benefit from strategies for reducing carbon footprints to mitigate the effects of climate change.

These initiatives enable organisations to cooperate in restoring the environment’s natural functions. Organisations may also be able to participate in the crucial process of halting destructive environmental temperature increase processes that would otherwise contribute to sea level rise, enhanced drought, water shortages supply, the decline in agricultural yield, health effects, counterproductive weather patterns like natural catastrophes, and destruction in shorelines.

Silhouette of mountains

How to lessen your carbon footprint?

The primary sources of a person’s carbon footprint are often their commuting, nutrition, and housing. Be aware of the following:

  • Your home’s energy consumption
  • How many miles do you typically commute by rail, bus, automobile, and aeroplane
  • Which goods you are buying and if they are produced in an eco-friendly way with minimal non-recycleable waste
  • How your diet is put together, especially with regards to meat and dairy
  • Whatever your score, the following suggestions may help reduce your environmental effect.

Simple modifications you may make around the house can lead to significant savings and energy.

Appliances, Lighting, and Heating

According to estimations from N.R.D.C., the average home uses 25% of its power to heat rooms, 13% to heat water, 11% to cool, and the rest to power appliances. Senior scientist and director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Center for Energy Efficiency Noah Horowitz asserted that even little modifications to these can have a significant impact. “There are many things you can accomplish without using a hammer or writing a cheque?” he remarked. 

  • Reduce the temperature of your water heater;
  • Reduce the heat. If you have a controlled or smart thermometer, use it. Close the curtains to help maintain a constant indoor temperature.
  • Pick alternative sources. If your state allows it, find an energy provider that uses renewable energy sources.
  • Turn it off when you’re not using an appliance or a light. Save even more energy, switch off appliances at the power socket. The next best thing is to put them to sleep.
  • A laptop is preferable to a desktop pc. It uses less electricity to operate and recharge laptops;
  • Instead of using your video game console, stream video to your smart T.V. Smart T.V.s and associated plugins only consume a few watts to watch content. Still, since game consoles aren’t designed to play feature films, their energy usage is around ten times greater.
  • Change the lighting. Compared to lightbulbs, L.E.D. lights consume less than 85% energy, have up to 25 times longer lifespan, and cost less to operate. This is a vast potential that we could transform practically overnight.
  • Don’t lower the temperature of your refrigerator or freezer unless necessary. Use the right temperature for the fresh food section and the freezers. (And when you aren’t using the old refrigerator in the garage to cool anything, disconnect it.)
  • When purchasing equipment, look for the Energy Star label in the US or the EU energy efficiency label in Europe. With this certification, you will understand whether a product meets energy efficiency requirements. 

fog during sun rise


By an E.P.A. analysis from 2014, Americans produce 258 million tons of waste annually, 169 million of which are disposed of in incinerators and landfills. Eighty-nine million tons of municipal solid trash were reused and composted by Americans in that year, saving the energy used by 25 million houses. However, a large amount of recyclable garbage is disposed of in landfills.

So here are a few suggestions to help you dispose of your waste correctly:

  • Use the correct recycling bins according to your country’s recycling system. These systems vary worldwide but usually are quite well known and labelled.
  • Before placing plastic, glass or metal containers in the recycling bin, empty and clean them. A whole lot of recyclables can be ruined by one unkempt compartment.
  • Recycle steel, tin cans, and paper.
  • Ask yourself if you can fix or reuse a product before putting it away.
  • Recycle damaged or outdated electronics. Local technology retailers usually provide free recycling services for used products and batteries.
  • Non-recyclables shouldn’t be placed in recycling bins.


Rethinking where and how frequently you commute is among the best ways to start considering how to lower your carbon footprint.

Less driving

According to a report from academics at the University of British Columbia and Lund University, giving up your automobile for a year might help you save roughly 2.6 tonnes of co2 or about as much as a roundtrip journey over the Atlantic. So how can you get off the road? Consider using a bus, train, or—even better—a bicycle.

Here are some suggestions for how to make your travel more environmentally sustainable once you do:

  • Change to an electric vehicle and sign up for 100 per cent renewable electricity.
  • Try carpooling: it allows you to divide emissions among the number of passengers.
  • Drive carefully and gently; economical driving can assist in cutting pollution. Lower speed on motorways reduces fuel consumption and emissions!
  • Examine your tires. Properly inflated tires can help cut pollution. Lower air pressure will reduce fuel efficiency.

Less Flying

Do you frequently travel by air? Then, you might drastically reduce your carbon footprint by taking one fewer lengthy roundtrip aircraft. Consider it this way: If you frequently take public transit and just as frequently go home to see relatives, your carbon footprint may still be manageable, but if you drive and fly often, your emissions will be more significant.

In a business context, say no to unnecessary business trips! It is easy to conduct essential business over videoconferencing. If you need to meet clients abroad, try to pool in-person client visits around important industry conferences that everyone attends!

As for leisurely travel: isn’t it better to have one proper holiday a year rather than multiple short city trips? Is it really necessary to visit a long-haul destination if you don’t know your own continent properly?

Your Purchases

The World Resources Institute estimates that 20 pieces of clothes are produced per person per year. This is a result of “fast fashion,” which refers to clothing that is swiftly, inexpensively, and unsustainable created. As a result, the costs to the ecosystem (and people) rise as the expense of our clothing decreases.

Some ideas to reduce the environmental impact of your apparel purchases:

  • Search for a fair-trade or comparable logo. This proves that your clothing was produced environmentally. Check out the Fashion Revolution organisation’s transparency index.
  • Buying vintage. You’ll help the environment and save money.
  • Think about the materials. Environmental effects are also to consider because different materials have varied impacts on the environment.
  • Donate your old clothes to charity shops.
  • Utilise clothes for other things like craft projects or cleanup rags if they are too old to giveaway. Some animal sanctuaries accept used linens and towels as bedding.
  • How many times am I going to wear this? Purchase clothes that you won’t often wear or will wear out rapidly.
  • Shop responsibly – There are techniques to consider the environment when buying other than just clothes, including food, household products, toys, and other items. For instance, always bring a reusable bag when shopping, invest in carbon offsets and spend on long-lasting, high-quality goods.

bowl of vegetable salad

Organising your plate

The food we eat has an impact on emissions all across the world.

Consume less meat, or best NO meat!

Out of ethical considerations and the suffering of animals, it is best not to consume any meat and animal produce at all. This is irrespective of any climate-related concerns and numerous charities such as Four Paws are leading the way for a future where we treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding.

The carbon footprint of animal rearing for food production is substantial: This is due to the substantial feeding, water, and land requirements in producing meat. Additionally, farm animals, especially cattle, release methane into the atmosphere.

Because of this, researchers believe a vegan diet is beneficial to the environment. A 2017 study in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that the perceived influence of red meat can be up to a hundred times higher than that of plant-based foods. (According to some calculations, beef emits over six pounds of co2 per meal, compared to less than 1⁄2 a pound for each dish of apples, rice, carrots, beans, or potatoes.) 

Generally, experts believe that consuming as much food from lower on the food chain as possible is likely a decent approach to lessen your carbon impact and maintain excellent health. That entails raising your plate with veggies, fruits, beans, and grains. 

 Consider Your Options

Most greenhouse gas emissions related to food occur during production instead of transport because what you consume is much more essential than where it originates. However, choosing local food might still have an impact.

Reducing food miles helps reduce pollution. Eating locally-grown becomes more complicated once you start to think about how the product got to you, rather than just how far it arrived from. For example, equivalent emissions may be produced when vegetables are transported by train or truck over longer distances to a grocery store. (How you get your veggies and convey them back is important, too.)

How about domestic vs foreign vegetable imports? Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University found that eating just one meatless meal a week for a whole year can save more than 150 miles more than eating solely locally grown food for a year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s like driving one thousand miles fewer than usual.

Don’t Waste Food!

A lot of the food purchased is wasted. Fortunately, there are easy ways to reduce wasted food (and using these suggestions can also help you save money):

  • Make a list. Check your refrigerator frequently to see what you already have, and establish a note of your grocery needs before you go shopping to avoid wasting money.
  • Plan. Never prepare more food than you can consume. Consider how many people will be dining, and modify recipes to suit your preferences.
  • Resist impulse purchases, bulk purchases and package offers. Cheap food could seem like an incredible deal, but if you don’t use it up before it spoils, it won’t be.
  • Be imaginative. Rather than throwing away leftovers, utilise them.
  • Freeze. You may extend their shelf lives by carefully preserving your food, including extra servings and produce like herbs.
  • Doggie bag and bring-to-work. Take large portions from restaurants home (doggie bags are now standard!) and bring excess food from home to work. This also saves a lot of money!

How To Act

Among the most crucial matters you could do to save the environment is to exercise your rights as citizens in terms of making changes to your daily routine. Discuss the subject with your family, friends, and local authorities and share your knowledge about reducing carbon footprint. 

You can even locate neighbourhood climate action groups or meetups. Attending these sessions will help you stay informed about how you can support your neighbourhood. 

While this article has been created with diligence and care, we can not guarantee that all information is up-to-date, correct and exhaustive. Do you have additional information you believe we should include?  Please use the contact form to submit your information (including sources). We rely on notifications by our readers to keep articles up to date. 

Disclosures: Our publications provide information and education on the carbon and environmental markets. While some of the posts can reference investment products for information purposes, our authors are not investment advisers. Please be aware of our disclaimer.

led lights on the ceiling
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