Check Out the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator

As climate change intensifies, it’s important to know your impact on the environment. Check out this tool from the EPA to see your carbon footprint!

Climate change is one of the hottest topics in Annapolis and in counties. During this most recent legislative session, MACo tracked and was involved in dozens of climate and environment-related bills. Undoubtedly the solutions to climate change will involve massive participation at the county, state, and federal levels, but that doesn’t mean we as individuals should skirt our responsibilities. Before we can do our part, it’s important to understand our full impact!

What is a carbon footprint? 

According to the Nature Conservancy:

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.

The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average carbon footprint is closer to 4 tons. To have the best chance of avoiding a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop to under 2 tons by 2050.

In essence, your carbon footprint is your individual impact on the environment, calculated by all of the decisions we make. This can be anything from transportation, energy type and consumption, food, the products we buy, how we handle our waste, etc. A lot goes into the true calculation of this number.

EPA’s Carbon Footprint Tool

Calculating an exact carbon footprint can be laborious, with some areas having outsized value over others. The EPA’s tool focuses on the three largest and most impactful categories: home energy, transportation, and waste. These three categories provide a rough estimate of your total footprint and offer the largest areas for individual improvement.

Other tools, such as the Natura Conservancy Carbon Footprint Calculator, can go into finer detail asking questions like how many calories per day you consume from a particular food group. Others still may ask about your shopping habits, whether you buy clothes retail or at thrift stores, or even the type of water you wash your clothes in.

I have my footprint. What now? 

After calculating your impact, it is important to take action. For those just starting down this cleaner path, the United Nations put together 10 actions to start reducing your carbon footprint. This includes things like walking, biking, or using public transit more often; eating more vegetables; and using more renewables to power your home. Other sources like Columbia University offer 35 relatively easy everyday actions you can start to incorporate into your lifestyle. Regardless of what first steps you take in your carbon reduction journey, it’s important to recognize that you have a role in reducing climate change and to take action.

Check out the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Tool.