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What is a Carbon Footprint?

Posted in: Eco-friendly

Posted on: 20.11.2017

The phrase ‘Carbon Footprint’ is thrown around a lot, but do you know what it actually means?

The dictionary definition of a carbon footprint is “the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation or community.”

While that gives you a good idea of what it is, it doesn’t tell you why you should care about it.

The Importance of Your Carbon Footprint

Tackling climate change isn’t something that can be done on your own - we need everyone to play a part in reducing their impact on this planet. The best way to do this is to reduce your carbon footprint by taking your everyday carbon emissions into consideration.

Think of it like this: nearly everything you do releases some amount of carbon into the atmosphere, but how much depends on a huge number of factors. This means that you can increase or decrease your carbon footprint with your everyday choices.

For example, the food you buy has a carbon footprint attached to it. This is because it requires machinery and resources to grow, harvest, package and transport it to where you bought it from. Then, more energy is expended when you cook that food, which adds even more to its carbon footprint.

But simply by purchasing local produce, you can reduce your food’s carbon footprint. Plus, if you choose to buy organic, then no chemicals will be used in its production reducing resources used further, thus lowering the overall carbon footprint. What you’re eating also makes a big difference, as vegetarian and vegan diets have much smaller carbon footprints than consuming meat or other animal products – even going one or two days a week without meat can make a real difference. Finally, using 100% renewable electricity, or green gas, to cook your food can really help to shrink that carbon footprint right down.

It may seem simple, but just taking these considerations into account for every meal can make a huge difference, and if everyone started to apply this thinking to everything they did, the impact could be colossal.

What is carbon offsetting?

Being ‘carbon neutral’ is the ultimate goal towards preventing climate change. It’s where your carbon output is effectively reduced to zero.

However, some things aren’t quite as straight forward as choosing different foods. For example, it would likely be very hard for you to decide to suddenly replace all the petrol you use with a renewable alternative – the supply chain just isn’t there yet. This is where carbon off-setting comes in.

Carbon offsetting schemes invest in environmental projects around the world, like ours in Malawi, Vietnam and Nepal, to offset the carbon emissions from the gas our customers use. This isn’t just planting trees either; we’re helping to develop sustainable solutions in communities and creating jobs in rural areas to deliver clean-energy solutions for years to come. 

Carbon offsetting

These offsetting projects aren’t just beneficial, they’re highly effective – you can read more about them here.

How do you work out carbon dioxide emissions?

The first step to reducing your carbon footprint is working out what it is now, then you can look at how to shrink it. There are a lot of things that make up your personal carbon footprint, but the main things that you have control of include:

  • Food and drink
  • Your home and energy
  • Transport and travel
  • Things you own

The WWF have put together a really handy carbon footprint calculator to give you a rough idea of where your carbon footprint compares with government targets. Unfortunately, working out your carbon footprint isn’t quite as easy as counting calories.

Certain things contribute greatly towards your personal carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, such as if your home uses electricity created by fossil fuels, how often you drive a petrol or diesel car, and whether or not you've been on a flight recently (and how far it went!).

Did you know that by using 100% renewable electricity and our carbon neutral Green Gas you can cut your personal carbon footprint by up to a half?

According to the Committee on Climate Change, the average household produces 8 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Around 2 tonnes of this comes from heating your home with a further 1.25 tonnes through electricity usage.

How would Good Energy help you make a difference? Our 100% renewable electricity produces no carbon and, thanks to our carefully selected carbon offsetting projects and 6% biomethane, our Green Gas is carbon neutral too, reducing your carbon footprint for domestic energy use to effectively zero.   

Take the first step towards a cleaner, greener future today.

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