One of the main approaches to ethical living is reducing an individual direct impact on the environment, we commonly refer to this impact as Carbon Footprint.
A great starting point is with a definition so what exactly is Carbon Footprint well according to BP (2007) Carbon Footprint is the amount of Carbon Dioxide emitted due to your daily activities, while Carbon Trust (2007) states that Carbon Footprint is a methodology to estimate the total emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) in carbon equivalents from a product across its life cycle from the production of raw materials used in its manufacture to disposal of the finished product and Time for Change (2015) states that carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities usually expressed in one equivalent tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Carbon footprint is the amount of Carbon Dioxide emissions that is directly and indirectly emitted by the activities of individuals, populations, governments, companies, organizations and processes. Whether its getting to work, watch television, of buying lunch all aspects of producing a product or deriving a finished action whether goods or services and must take into account direct onsite internal and indirect emissions off site, internal, embounded, upstream and downstream.
Although difficult to pinpoint accurately for instance we have no definite way to determine how much the apple I ate this morning contribute as opposed to the pear you ate unless we take into consideration the farming procedure, transport, storage and processes that result in a finished product, in light of this it is sometimes impossible for us to calculate every detail that would result in increasing our footprint but be aware and conscious that every activity contributes despite the difficulties of understanding the whole picture which would enable us to make the most realistic estimations that illustrates possibility and practicability along with honesty.
The most commonly used tool, that assist individuals in calculating how much carbon is generated as a result of life’s activities, and how it compares to the people around you is the Carbon Calculator. Carbon calculators claims to be accurate, but if you have ever used one you would be aware that its not the most accurate tool because they tend to focus on the carbon intensive activities such as driving, while neglecting the less intensive activities that can make greater contribution such as the foreign goods and services we cannot live without.
Let’s take a look at the highest contributing countries. The overall carbon footprint of a United Kingdom resident annually when compared to an African resident stands at 11.6 – 0.9 tonnes. Now the United Kingdom resident footprint is inclusive of aviation and manufacture of imported goods, heating and electricity. While throughout the world the largest contributing sectors are production and transport of goods, home construction and services, with developing and first world countries including importation of foreign goods.
Although its easy to say that some of our daily emissions are simply out of our control because we need goods and services to survive, we can rapidly reduce our individual contribution by reducing, recycling and reusing while avoiding unnecessary purchases and purchasing locally.
Another great way to make a sustainable impact is to purchase from brands and shops that constantly aim to reduce their own emission and boycott organizations that are against the mandated cut in greenhouse gas emissions.
A key point worth noting is that climate change is and will be for a long time the single greatest threat to the world’s environment but our choices as consumers can harm the planet in more specific localized ways or make it better, make your pick.
Clark, Duncan (2006). ” The Rough Guide to Ethical Living”. Rough Guides Limited
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