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Carbon Footprint Reduction

by | Apr 3, 2022 | Carbon Footprint & Carbon Accounting

Introduction

Let’s start by asking the question, what is carbon footprint reduction? It’s the steps a person, organization, or business takes to minimize their carbon footprint and bring positive change to the environment. The biggest challenge humans are currently facing is climate change as a species. An environmental disaster is right around the corner. If we do not attempt to reverse the damage we’ve done to the Earth, human civilization will collapse. In this article, we will go through every aspect of a carbon footprint. We’re going to study how we can bring about carbon footprint reduction to save the Earth and its climate.

Ways to Reduce Personal Carbon Footprint

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Your daily lifestyle choices like the clothes you buy, the food you eat, and the vehicles you own release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contribute to your carbon footprint. Understanding what contributes to your carbon footprint helps reduce your impact on the environment. The changes you make to lower your carbon footprint might seem small, but it immensely benefits the Earth in the long run. Some of them are:

1. Food

Consuming food products that have to be transported to you from another country or region increases your carbon footprint. Your demand for exotic foods contributes to CO2 emissions through ships, trucks, planes, and other means of transport that have to run to meet your food demands. Therefore, as much as possible, buy seasonal food products that have been sourced locally.

Buy only what you need, not what you want. There’s a vast difference between needing and wanting a product. This difference is what matters the most in carbon footprint reduction.

Sheep, goats, and cattle (collectively called ruminants) release methane due to their digestive processes. If you frequently consume meat from these animals, you’re contributing to excessive emissions of greenhouse gases. You could switch to a vegetarian diet, consume less ruminant meat, or consume much less carbon-intensive meat(such as chicken) to reduce your carbon footprint.

If you consume fish, be sure to buy your fish products from local community fisherfolk instead of from big companies that use shipping trawlers. Not only do the shipping trawlers emit CO2, they also have devastating effects on marine animals and ecosystems.

And lastly, always carry your own reusable cloth bag when you go shopping for groceries. Never accept plastic bags from shopkeepers. The processes involved in the production of plastic cause CO2 emissions.

2. Clothing

When you buy clothes, make sure you buy from brands that source their material sustainably and locally. When brands source their material locally, they cut down on emissions that they could have released if they were to use raw material sourced from another region. Also, try to buy clothing materials from local community artisans. By doing this, you support traditional art while reducing your carbon footprint.

Before you decide to buy a piece of clothing, consider borrowing one instead. For example, if you’re looking for something to wear just for a one-day event, try asking a friend if you could borrow their clothing. This helps in carbon footprint reduction since you’ll be cutting down on CO2 emissions released from the manufacture of new clothes. If you’re looking to buy clothing to wear for an extended period of time, consider buying second-hand clothes. By doing this, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint since you’ll be encouraging circular fashion.

3. Transport

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If you need to get somewhere not too far away, cycle it out! It will immensely reduce your carbon footprint. Other motored forms of transport release greenhouse gases.

If you’re traveling for a holiday to a place within your country, use the train instead of taking a flight. Airplanes release vast quantities of CO2 and contribute to global warming. Also, if you frequently travel to international places for a holiday, consider exploring regions within your country. This way, you’ll contribute to your country’s economy while also ensuring a reduction in your carbon footprint.

4. Energy, Water, and Waste

Freshwater is a rapidly dwindling natural resource. Most people take incredibly long showers, which leads to a considerable waste of water. To save water, take shorter showers. Another way to save water is to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Open the tap only when you need to wash your brush and mouth. Don’t leave it running while you brush.

Even though you might have turned the switch off, it uses energy if your electronic device is still plugged into a switchboard to charge. It might not consume as much energy as when you switch it on, but wouldn’t you instead save this energy rather than let it get wasted? The production is a carbon-intensive process, releasing enormous amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

If you have junk and spam mail sitting somewhere in your email inbox, delete them if they’re not helpful. The digital sector consumes and releases enormous amounts of energy, warming the planet and melting the poles.

Ways to Reduce Industrial Carbon Footprint

1. Monitor Energy Use

Monitoring starts with identifying which sections in an industry consume the most energy. Understanding which areas use more energy as compared to others can help you better manage your industry’s energy consumption.

2. Reduce Energy Consumption

Once you’ve identified sources of energy wastage, you can discard them and make your industry more energy efficient. Doing away with energy inefficiencies helps in the carbon footprint reduction of your industry.

3. Review Logistics

Review the ways you’re moving around or transporting your stock and supplies. Are you sourcing your raw material from hundreds of miles away? Instead of having to transport material from far-off places, try finding a local supplier. This will significantly reduce your carbon footprint associated with transport emissions.

4. Recycle

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Ensure that your business or industry has an appropriate recycling scheme. Also, make sure that employees recycle waste on company premises. Of course, you minimize waste in the first place. But when minimizing waste isn’t possible, recycle.

5. Reduce packaging

You don’t need to be packaging your products in layers upon layers of plastic. Wherever possible, use a minimal amount of packaging. Alternatively, you can package your products in recycled and recyclable material. This will keep waste out of landfills where their degradation releases greenhouse gases.

Schemes to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Mandatory Market Schemes

Mandatory Market Schemes are those that national governments or international organizations develop and regulate. These are compulsory laws set by bodies to assist companies and businesses in their carbon footprint reduction. They mandate sources of emissions to comply with carbon footprint reduction requirements.

The Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) developed by the Kyoto Protocol and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme regulate the mandatory carbon market. These organizations measure each ton of CO2 in carbon credits. One carbon credit allows the company to emit one ton of CO2. This means that before a company implements a project or activity, these organizations set the limit of how much CO2 the particular project or activity is allowed to emit.

Voluntary Market Schemes

Voluntary carbon market schemes operate outside the mandatory markets. The voluntary markets do not make the offsetting of carbon compulsory. They allow companies to choose to purchase carbon offsets voluntarily.

The main objective of voluntary carbon markets is to achieve a neutral carbon footprint or carbon footprint reduction. Companies, businesses, and individuals can approach voluntary markets to purchase carbon credits. However, third-party organizations must verify all voluntary markets to ensure authenticity.

The main difference between a voluntary and a mandatory carbon market is that voluntary markets do not mandate compliance with regulations under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol, adopted by UN Climate Change in 1997, involves the commitment of countries to reduce and limit greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with set targets.

Modeling Your Emissions

Carbon models play essential roles in carbon footprint reduction. They help you model your carbon footprint and identify activities in your daily life where you can reduce emissions. Before we learn about carbon models, let’s first understand what the term ‘model’ means.

A model uses numerous pieces of data. The model couples this data with factors or variables that could influence it. The model then takes all of this information and gives us an end result. The model represents how the person (most often a scientist) who developed the model thinks. The model lets us test a hypothesis, an idea of how different factors are related.

Carbon Footprints

Modeling your carbon footprint is a simple process. Follow these steps:

Step 1:

Make a list of factors that you think to influence your carbon footprint. The factors may directly or indirectly contribute to your footprint. Include in the list activities you perform that release CO2 into the atmosphere. Also include variables you think influence your carbon-releasing actions. For example, industries release CO2 when producing the aluminum cans drinks are stored in. You may have purchased these drinks. But, if you recycle the can, 95% of the energy used to produce a new can from the old one gets saved. Think of similar instances where you’ve lessened your carbon footprint.

Step 2:

You’ll need additional data to model your carbon footprint reduction. Start collecting information about many miles you travel in a month in each type of vehicle. What is the model of the vehicle? You’ll need information about how much energy you consume to keep your house running. You can find this information on your electricity, LPG, and water bills.

Where did you travel for the holidays this year? Did you take a plane? How long was the plane trip? How many places did the plane stop before reaching your destination?

What foods do you commonly eat? How many days in a week/month do you consume meat? What type of meat do you consume?

You’ll also need to collect data about how much garbage you generate and how much of it you recycle. Do you compose wet and organic wastes?

Step 3:

Now that you have all the data you need about your lifestyle, start looking at and identifying models to calculate your carbon footprint. Many models available on the internet help you calculate your carbon footprint. No two models are the same. Each model will ask you different questions and calculate your carbon footprint in different ways. It would be ideal to choose three sites to model your carbon footprint. Once you’ve done that, think about the following:

What was your carbon footprint from each site?

Were there unique questions from some sites that weren’t there in others?

Which of the factors did you feel were important?

Finally, you can compare the results and algorithms and obtain an approximate value of your carbon footprint. Use this data to help you in your journey of carbon footprint reduction.

 

Author

  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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