See the latest edition of Going Green on NY1 and learn more about how carbon footprints affect the earth.
Did you know your “shoe size” is related to climate change? Inevitably, in going about our daily lives — commuting, sheltering our families, eating — each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Yet, there are many things each of us, as individuals, can do to reduce our carbon emissions. The Nature Conservancy's New York State Director, Bill Ulfelder, appeared on NY1 to give the full scoop on Carbon Footprints.
What's a Carbon Footprint
Your Carbon Footprint is your impact on our climate and is related to how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases your choices create each year. You can see the results of carbon footprints all around the world: Flooding in Pakistan and the largest forest fire in history in Israel are real-world examples of climate change. You can even see the proof in our own back yard. In New York, Lake Champlain has risen more than 1 foot since the 1970s, and the duration of ice cover on lakes in the Adirondacks has shortened significantly in the 20th century.
What Can I Do?
Congrats, New Yorkers. Just by existing in your natural habitat, you city dwellers already have a reduced carbon footprint. New Yorkers consume 1/3 less carbon than the general population of the US. This is due to two major factors. First, we use public transportation and ride bicycles, which reduce carbon emissions generated by driving. Second, we live and work in big buildings, which require less energy to heat and cool.
But there are still things you can do to make your carbon footprint even smaller.
Step 1: Calculate your Carbon Footprint. Use our carbon footprint calculator to determine what the size of your carbon emissions are and what areas of your life contribute the most. The easy-to-use calculator factors in everything from air travel to eating habits.
Step 2: Unplug. Be sure to unplug household appliances like DVD players, stereos, computers and televisions when they aren’t in use - and always turn off the lights.
Step 3: Travel light. Cars and trucks run on fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In the United States, automobiles produce more than 20 percent of the country's total carbon emissions. This means that you should walk or bike instead of driving a car or getting into a taxi. If you need to drive, combine trips, share rides to reduce your time behind the wheel.
Step 4: Reuse and Recycle. Products made from recycled paper, glass, metal and plastic reduce carbon emissions because they use less energy to manufacture than products made from completely new materials. Recycling paper also saves trees—and living trees remove carbon from the atmosphere. Recycle everything. Challenge yourself to double your recycling and halve your trash.