What exactly is a carbon footprint, and how do you go about reducing your own? Thanks to a new online tool provided by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality you can easily calculate your carbon footprint – the amount of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) that you send into the atmosphere as a result of your lifestyle.
CO2 emissions are largely responsible for the climate change that is occurring around the world. By trapping sunlight in the atmosphere, like a greenhouse roof traps heat and moisture, we are slowly altering the temperatures and weather patterns in a way that may soon reach the tipping point for the Earth.
But don’t just sit there wringing your hands. Use the DEQ carbon calculator to compare your CO2 emissions with national averages and even discover how to reduce your carbon footprint.
Here’s how the Oregon Carbon Calculator works. Go to the website and enter information in the online form. The tool asks you information regarding the number of people in your household (adults and children), annual income, types of cars driven, how much red meat you eat, square footage of your home, entertainment, and more. The carbon calculator gives you your personal carbon footprint with respect to transportation, housing and shopping.
But the best part of the online tool is the “Take Action” page, at which people can find out how to minimize their carbon footprint, while saving money. There is also information about carbon offsets – for example, how many trees you would have to plant to absorb the amount of CO2 emissions you create.
The bottom line is that using the online carbon calculator, you may realize “hidden” carbon emissions that you can easily eliminate – whether changing your diet (Meatless Monday anyone?), increasing fuel efficiency or cutting back on air travel.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality pays an annual fee for the rights to use the carbon calculator, which was developed based on a model from the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at U.C. Berkeley.