Thursday, March 12, 2009

Series - Exploring small and not so small 'Concerns' - Carbon Footprint

Through this series I am setting out to explore some of the 'Concerns' that we have regarding the future of the environment we live in, conditions of our fellow human beings, our actions and in-actions, animals an our impact on their future and the subsequent vicious cycle.

I thought I will begin with Carbon Footprint- understanding it, calculating it and reducing it.

Carbon foot print is simply how much carbon is released into the atmosphere by a product, business, activity or a person. Here carbon means all the 7 green house gasses converted to carbon equivalent.

So, why is it important to consider carbon foot print?
Well, It's simple demand and supply. What's our demand on the earth's resources and what's the rate of replenishment of the earth's resources. And because the resources on this earth are finite we want to make sure that the supply never runs out.

In the calculations of carbon foot print we compare our current consumption and see how many earths ( resources) will we need if every one on this planet started living like us.

According to a 2005 study, our current total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.3 planet Earths - in other words, all of us together use ecological services 1.3 times faster than Earths can renew them.

Thus, our 'Concern' about sustainable lifestyle.

Following are some of the links to calculate your own carbon foot print.

So, after knowing how large the foot print is, the next thing is to see how to reduce it.

No brainers first-
1. Turn stuff off when not in use. Lights, appliances, taps, heating (when not in the house) and more.
2. Turn things down a notch. Heating 1 or 2 degrees less, water heating a degree or so less and so on
3. Run stuff on full load. Washing machine, dishwasher etc.
4. Recycle everything. Paper,cardboard boxes, plastics bottles, glass containers, aluminum cans and the likes.
5.Use less. Paper, water, energy, everything.

Now the things that need some effort.
1. Buy fruits and vegetables grown locally.
2. Don't buy out of season foods. They are flown or shipped from far far places and have massive carbon foot prints.
3.Invest in a water filter to stop buying bottled water, its also shipped from far far away.
4. Invest in energy saving light bulbs and appliances. Look for energy star logo.
5. Insulate doors and windows. Losing warm and cool air waste energy and money.
6. Kill the vampire load. Unplug cellphone chargers, coffee machines etc that suck in energy even when not switched off.

The top four things that you need to be thinking are -
1. Energy efficiency - Electricity production mostly derived from coal-burning power plants is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, and efficiency is the least expensive way to cut down on your carbon footprint.
2. Buy local - Less travel less CO2 in the atmosphere.
3. Transportation -Cut down your commute, take public transport, carpooling and walking go a long way in reducing your foot print.
4. G0 green- buy green power, organic foods, no/ low chemical stuff.

The basics of reducing our individual carbon footprints are to do what Henry David Thoreau once said: "Simplify, simplify."

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