Chances are you’ve heard of a “carbon footprint” at some point in your life, but what exactly does the term mean? If you aren’t totally sure, you’re not alone.
Your carbon footprint is the overall sum of carbon dioxide emissions induced by your actions and activities during a specific timeframe, usually calculated over the span of a year.
Virtually everything we do causes some amount of greenhouse gas production; driving a car, charging your phone, even breathing. So why does that matter? Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that absorbs radiation and prevents heat from escaping the atmosphere. The more trapped heat, the more we experience negative effects like higher temperatures, disrupted weather patterns, and other atmospheric changes.
There are countless factors that contribute to a person’s carbon footprint, ranging from where they live to how much money they earn to the foods they eat. But on the global scale, Americans tend to score poorly when compared to the carbon footprints of other countries around the world.
The first step in lowering your carbon footprint is to determine that number, which can be achieved using one of the multiple resources available online, like this carbon footprint calculator from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. While the number may shock you, there are plenty of things you can do to take ownership of your personal contributions and drastically slash that number. Here, we take a closer look at 25 quick and easy ways to shrink your carbon footprint.