The mantra of those who are trying so hard to have us reduce our carbon footprint is simple: Recycle, reuse, and reduce.
In case you’re unsure exactly what a carbon footprint is, here is the definition given by Carbon Descent – “Your carbon footprint is the sum of all CO2 emissions that are directly and indirectly associated with your activities over a given time frame (usually a year).
In other words, it is the direct impact we have on our environment as individuals through the resources we consume. Each of us has a share in the combined sum total effect on our environment through our individual carbon footprint.
For example every activity we undertake and every resource we use has a certain amount of energy associated with its creation and with the process of creation comes CO2 emission. The paper you use on a daily basis has associated with it a certain level of CO2 to harvest, transport and process into the paper you use. The food you eat takes energy to grow and manufacture as do the clothes you wear, the fuel you use, the car you drive. Everything has associated with it some cost for its creation.
There are two different types of carbon footprint:
- Our Primary Footprint is what we have direct control of, it is a direct measure of the CO2 emissions that arise as a result of our activities, for example fossil fuels consumed through transportation from our vehicles and from our energy consumption through electricity, natural gas, coal, etc.
- The Secondary Footprint is what we have no direct control over, this measures the amount of indirect CO2 as a result of what we consume, for example the products we use, the energy and emission associated with its creation and use over time. The more we consume, the more emissions associated with its creation.
How we can reduce our carbon footprint?
Even if we do not have direct control over our secondary footprint, we can consume less. If we buy less, we can influence the demand, decreasing production lowering the CO2 emission levels. So in effect, we can have an influence to some degree on our secondary carbon footprint through our buying habits.
It takes more energy and more resources to create products from scratch than it does to recycle. It’s a fact. Recycling paper uses 40 to 60% less energy than it does to create paper from the tree.
Recycling glass uses 40% less energy then it does it create from its base components. So as you can see recycling unites us all in a common goal to reduce energy usage, by doing this we help companies to save in overall energy usage which makes the big difference.
With recycling, ensure that you continually sort your garbage into different piles so that it can be better sorted and made use of by someone down the line. For example building a new can for your coke will be twelve times more energy efficient if it can be done from recycled materials rather than its original, raw components.
In the state of California alone, residents have faithfully recycled over 10 billion cans and bottles which has saved the energy equivalent of powering over 500,000 homes. It really takes no effort to do.
Not only man-made things can be recycled – remember the value of composting not only in reducing how much we throw into landfills but also in the potential fertilizer it can provide. In both situations, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint indirectly by preventing the use of energy further down the line.