Learn Your Carbon Footprint

Calculating Carbon

While we may consider large sources of pollution like truck exhaust or smoke from factories to be the main contributors of global warming, the reality is that we all contribute to the larger carbon footprint even on an individual basis. Seemingly small actions, like commuting locally, eating a tasty packaged snack, or buying new sneakers, can actually add up to have a larger impact than expected. The good news however, is that there are choices we can make to minimize our own contributions. In fact, many websites offer carbon footprint calculators to help determine how much personal impact you are have, as well as tips on how to reduce these numbers. Some calculators even reveal how many “worlds” it would take to support a global population who lived like you. Because we rarely think of sustainability in number of worlds, these devices help offer new, and unique perspectives on how big our impact really is. By making us more aware of the conscious choices we make that are contributing to green house gas emissions, it helps educate us about decisions we could make better suited for the environment.


Below are various carbon footprint calculators:

  • The Nature Conservancy- This asks questions in categories based on Home and Energy, Driving and Flying, Food and Diet, and Recycling and Waste. The results calculate how much Carbon Per Year you or your household generates, and the groups that contribute most to that number. Click here to calculate.
  • Global Foodprint Network- This asks questions about diet, travel, consumerism, and waste. Answers manifest in a sliding scale, a helpful tool for estimating uncertain numbers. The calculator is fun and interactive, allowing users to create an avatar to use throughout the exercise and animating different resources and scenarios based on answers. The results show the number of “Planet Earths” it would take to sustain a global population who had your habits and shows the specific types of environments that your habits are most affecting. It also provides a visual pie chart that shows the breakdown of your impact. Click here to calculate.
  • World Wildlife Foundation- This asks questions in categories of Food, Travel, Home, and Stuff. The neat aspect to this calculator is that below each question, it provides criteria for answers. For instance, your recreational shopping trip counts toward your travel time, not mandated business trips, as those fall into your employer’s footprint. Results also calculate how many “worlds” we would need is everyone lived according to your answers. However, below the results, is a place to sign up and commit to reducing your footprint trough habit change. The WWF will send you three personalized tips using specific information from your quiz answers, for three days in a row, in order to help you change those habits. Click here to calculate.


Written by Julie Elliot, Class of 2015


Title: Footprints in the sand
Description: Footprints in the sand at Point Pelee National Park on Lake Erie.
By: Victoria Rose (Website)

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