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How do you Know What Your Carbon Footprint Is?

Updated on July 6, 2014
The carbon footprint.
The carbon footprint. | Source

68% Percent of Businesses Don't Know What a "Carbon Footprint" Is

We've all been hearing alot about our "carbon footprint" this last year or so - but many of us are wondering "what exactly is a carbon footprint?". Is it some sort of print we make with our foot after sticking it on carbon paper or is it some sort of track we leave in carbon as we walk around the earth? Is there some type of Carbon Advice Group that we can ask these things of?

We are not alone in not understanding exactly what a Carbon Footprint means. A recent poll of businesses found that 68% of businesses did not even know what a carbon footprint is. So my goal here is to help you understand in simple terms exactly what a carbon footprint means and also to help you understand how you can even reduce that carbon footprint through understanding another widely misunderstood word - Carbon Offsets.

Wiki's Description of a Carbon Footprint

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"A carbon footprint is “the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organisation, event or product” (UK Carbon Trust 2008). An individual, nation or organization's carbon footprint is measured by undertaking a GHG emissions assessment. Once the size of a carbon footprint is known, a strategy can be devised to reduce it.

Carbon offsets, or the mitigation of carbon emissions through the development of alternative projects such as solar or wind energy or reforestation, represent one way of managing a carbon footprint.

The concept and name of the carbon footprint originates from the ecological footprint discussion.[1]The carbon footprint is a subset of the ecological footprint."

OK - so if you answered my original question by thinking that a "carbon footprint" is something we leave behind that is like a print - you were correct! Each and every one us on Earth will leave behind some type of a carbon footprint, sort of like an "individual earth legacy" - only this legacy will be the question of how much environmental damage did we leave behind to our kids, grand kids and their kids ? Did we drive gas guzzlers that put more pollution into the air? Did we think about recycling all the paper, plastics, glass and bottles that we could? Did we consider changing traditional light-bulbs in our homes and businesses and use more energy efficient light-bulbs? Did we think about using solar and wind energy versus more traditional methods? All these factors and more will be what goes into that "carbon footprint" that we will leave behind us as our own individual "earth legacy".

Putting that into retrospect, maybe it's time to start looking at what that "legacy" might be and how can we leave as little damage as possible to the planet that we reside on? How can we be better stewards of our Earth and leave a cleaner and more habitable place for the generations to come?

What Kind of a Carbon Footprint Are We Making?

One of the ways we can start checking the state of our carbon footprint is by first analyzing what kind of a "footprint" are we currently making. If we run a business what type of footprint is that business making? It is only by first knowing what mistakes we are making that we can then begin to rectify the "heavier" print by making changes to our consumption and make our carbon footprint "lighter".

Imagine it like walking through a series of landmines - you know there are landmines, you can see them in the distance, but you first have to know how to navigate those landmines before stepping out into the field. You would want to know as much about those landmines that you possibly could. You would definitely want to step "lightly" and make as little imprint on the ground as possible. You would also want to know as much as possible about how to "disarm" those landmines! Maybe not quite the analogy of a "carbon footprint" but close enough to understand. Our Earth, as it stands right now, is full of landmines, that are growing every day - those landmines are the effects that climate change is having on our Earth - increased hurricanes, floods and fires among a host of other things that are happening at an accelerated rate because of the heavy carbon footprint we humans are leaving here on Earth.

Find Out What Your Carbon Footprint Is

The Carbon Advice Group website helps you evaluate your carbon footprint and things you can do to reduce your energy consumption
The Carbon Advice Group website helps you evaluate your carbon footprint and things you can do to reduce your energy consumption | Source

Calculate – Avoid – Reduce – Offset

So now that we understand that each one of us here on earth has a "carbon footprint"- now it's time for us to see exactly how "deep" that imprint is - by first calculating our energy usage at The Carbon Advice Group.

(The Carbon Advice Group provides individuals, organisations and businesses a much-needed ability to accurately measure the size of their carbon footprint, deliver methods to reduce it as much as possible and then provide a simple, reliable, high quality mechanism to offset the carbon footprint that was left.)

After calculating our usage we can then begin to understand how we can make changes to make a less damaging and lighter footprint through things we can change on a daily basis ( every little bit helps - and if we all did even a little bit, imagine how much that little bit would add up to )

So our goal in making a lighter carbon footprint should be to "AVOID" contributing unnecessary damage to the Earth and also to "REDUCE" the amount of environmental damage we leave by making the necessary lifestyle, business and product changes in our life.

Can You "Offset" Your Carbon Footprint?

You may have heard another buzz word that is beginning to gain momentum: Carbon"Offsets"or Carbon "Offsetting". You may ask - just exactly what does that mean and how can I offset my Carbon Footprint?

Well to put carbon offsetting in a nutshell, it basically means that after you calculate your own carbon footprint - and avoid and reduce your own footprint by making necessary changes in your own life and business - you can also further "offset" your carbon footprint by investing in carbon credits that help groundbreaking projects around the world reduce greenhouse gases and emissions of carbon dioxide. What types of projects are these?

Renewable Energy including solar, hydro and wind as well as biomass and re-use of products like biogas.

Resource Conservation including energy efficiency, methane recovery and low carbon fuel switches.

Waste reduction including methane flaring to reduce the potency of the gas (methane is a highly toxic gas which sits beneath tons of Siberian Permafrost)

Reforestation projects with long term goals in our forests which can make a real contribution to local communities and the overall health of our planet.

These are just some of the projects we can invest in to help our planet heal. Although starting late because climate change has already begun to have a huge impact on our globe, it is never too late to make changes and help begin to restore our planets health - and leave our children and grandchildren a healthier planet to live on. Without these changes, we will be leaving behind a uninhabitable planet - and that is something none of us want to do. We would not want our legacy to be one of disregard for the very planet that we and our families call home.

(Dorsi Diaz is a freelance writer and former small business owner)

Poll On Carbon Footprints and Carbon Offsets

After reading the article, do you have a better understanding of what a "carbon footprint" and "carbon offsetting"means?

See results


Submit a Comment
  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @HikeGuy) Thanks for reading and the comment.

  • HikeGuy profile image


    7 years ago from Northern California Coast

    Good information. Thanks. Good to see more people raising awareness.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @Michaleus) Boy I bet their carbon footprint is a mind blower - and something they will NEVER reveal!

  • Michaleus profile image


    8 years ago from Port Harcourt

    What is Shell Petroleum's carbon footprint and Exxon Mobil and Chevron ? Lets try to reduce global gas flaring by these Multi-national enemies of the Earth.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @Twinkle) I agree!

  • profile image

    Twinkle Handa 

    8 years ago

    We have 2 give our efforts 2 save our country and r planet.A common people can also put their efforts.We should

    reduce the use of ACs in r house.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @HIKEGUY) Thanks and YW!

  • HikeGuy profile image


    8 years ago from Northern California Coast

    This is a crucial issue. Thanks for addressing this.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    lindsay) Yes we are entering into a whole new world of renewable energy - and LED light bulbs are a great way for the everyday family to start!

    Thanks for reading.

  • lindsays5624 profile image


    8 years ago

    A mine of useful explanation over what can be a complicated issue. Renewable energy has got to be the way to go if we can produce enough. If not then at least we can alleviate the issue with technology like CFL or LED light bulbs.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    9 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    TopUniverse) Yes that's kind of shocking isn't it? Thanks for coming by and reading about carbon footprints.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Excellent hub, I am surprised with the fact that "68% of businesses did not even know what a carbon footprintis."

  • M.L. Zupan profile image

    M.L. Zupan 

    9 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

    Great article Dorsi. Carbon offsets are great. I run a web design business and we do web hosting which are 120% green. We invest in carbon offsets in a wind farm in Texas to offset the emissions from our hosting servers.

  • Jerilee Wei profile image

    Jerilee Wei 

    10 years ago from United States

    Thanks Dorsi! You told me a few things about this subject that I didn't know and gave me some food for thought!

  • packerpack profile image

    Om Prakash Singh 

    10 years ago from India, Calcutta

    There are so many things that common people don't know about the contribution they are doing in harming the environment. Carbon footprint is one such thing that is unknown by most of us. I too am an environment lover and have blog dedicated to the same. Check my profile.

    I really care for the environment and do everything that could be done from an individual end. When I read this Hub I really felt very good, no not only for the quality of article that you have written but also that we have so many great Hubber who are so concerned about environment and not just concerned about making money. Thanks for the article.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    10 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Thank-you CS and Christoph.

    CS - what a lovely comment! I have been on the bandwagon about climate change for many years, and ilovehubbings request about writing hubs about carbon offsets was brilliant. Right now I think the main thing is to get people to understand the seriousness of what is happening on our planet because of climate change.

    Thanks again!

  • Christoph Reilly profile image

    Christoph Reilly 

    10 years ago from St. Louis

    Nice hub, Dorsi!

  • C.S.Alexis profile image


    10 years ago from NW Indiana


    This hub is a gift to all who live on the planet. Your work here is very detailed and makes for easy reading and comprehension. You did everyone a favor by writing this and doing such a great job. This is how we will change, by calling attention and making as many people aware as possible. Thank you.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    10 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Yes of course Funride and Zsuzy and I will do the same! The more people that we help understand the serious problem we are in - the better!! So many people don't realize that time is really of the essence here!

    Thanks everybody!

  • funride profile image

    Ricardo Nunes 

    10 years ago from Portugal

    Job well done Dorsi, congratulations ;)

    Great idea ZsuZsy, I´ll put everybody`s links on my hub ;)

  • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

    Zsuzsy Bee 

    10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

    Great hub Dorsi. Okay if I link it to mine?

    regards Zsuzsy

  • ilovehubbing profile image


    10 years ago

    Thank you for your hub

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    10 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Thank you Bruce! The most important thing is first understanding what we are doing, the mistakes we are making- and then we can begin to make effective changes! Thanks for reading and linking!

  • Bruce Elkin profile image

    Bruce Elkin 

    10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

    Excellent hub, Dorsi. And  great service to us, and our environment. I coach people who are trying to live more lightly--and more richly!--on the planet. I'll be able to point them to this hub. So I really appreciate it.  Best!


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