October 13, 2023

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Have you ever wondered what your personal carbon footprint is? Well, now you can get an estimation by taking a short quiz! CIRT had the honor of attending Climate Week in New York a couple of weeks ago, where we had the opportunity to utilize a carbon footprint indicating quiz! In this blog, we will be walking through each question of the quiz to understand what it is asking, and why these factors are important to approximating our personal carbon footprints. Before we get started, take the quiz here to learn about the impact of your carbon footprint. 

Where do you live?

The first question asks what country you live in. This question is used at the end of the quiz to help you compare your carbon footprint to the average footprint of another member of your county. Different countries have different personal average footprints, determined by many factors. The top five countries that have emitted the most carbon since the industrial revolution are the United States, China, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, so when comparing the carbon footprint of someone who lives in one of these countries to a country with less industry, there is a significant difference. 

How do you normally commute?

The second question asks about how you commute, whether you primarily walk, drive, or take public transportation. Alternative methods such as walking, biking, and electric vehicles are the future of eco-friendly transportation. If you walk, take public transportation, or bike to work, you can emit far less carbon a year than if you drove your car. Working remotely can also drastically reduce your personal carbon footprint and we are seeing more people working remotely than ever following the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Fly much?

The third question asks about how much time on airplanes you have spent this year. Per hour on an airplane, 90 kilograms (kg) of carbon dioxide (CO2) are emitted per passenger. One tree can absorb 22 kg of CO2 per year, so it would take a tree 4.1 years to absorb the CO2 from a single passenger’s one hour flight. This is very significant, and are environmental impacts we should take into  consideration when traveling. 

Watcha normally eat?

The fourth question asks about your diet, whether you eat primarily meat, plants, or a mix of both. A plant based diet is very eco friendly compared to an omnivore diet. Farming livestock and the amount of land used to grow animal feed produce a lot of carbon. People who eat 3.5 ounces of meat daily produce 22.5 pounds of carbon dioxide daily and people who eat plant based diets only produce 5.4 pounds of carbon dioxide a day. This is a stark difference, and overtime, these numbers add up. 

Energy at your home is…?

The fifth question asks about the use of energy in your household, whether it is renewable, natural gas, or a mix of both. In just the United States, home heating and cooling produces around 441 million tons of CO2 every year. There are ways to decrease that number for your personal household. Washing clothes with cold water can save around 90% of the energy you would usually use to wash clothes. Wrapping your pipes to improve insulation can decrease heat lost to the environment. Changing to energy efficient light bulbs reduces energy usage. Choosing more efficient energy sources for your household, such as renewable energy, can both decrease your personal carbon footprint, but also lead to a greater return on investment. 

This quiz is a good stepping stone to understanding your carbon footprint in the world. It calls attention to key factors in carbon emissions such as modes of transport, number of flights, personal diets, and more. While saying this, there is not a lot of middle ground in the answers to the quiz for the sake of brevity, but it is possible that a lot of answers fall into the gray space. For example, some people travel lots of miles by plane in one year, and none the next year. Also many people work hybrid, they work from home half of the days and drive to work the other half of the days. Or some people only eat certain kinds of meat, or eat very low meat diets. There are ways for us to improve our carbon footprint without making drastic changes to our lifestyles. It is all about education, and choosing the best option for the environment one choice at a time. Sometimes the correct thing to do is not the easy thing to do, but we need to ensure the future of our planet as we know it, so changes need to be made.