I hope you enjoy this short article I wrote for the “The Green Room” which can be found in the winter issue of Stationery Trends Magazine. Everyone wants to reduce their carbon footprint and I was excited to be able to write about this complicated and many times misunderstood topic. Read entire article below.
The Green Room
What is your Carbon Footprint? – Why does it Matter?
Learning abut your environmental impact allows you to go more green
By Sue Rostvold
There have been numerous books and articles written about carbon footprints, but what exactly does it mean? One straightforward approach can be found at www.carbonfootprint.com. There you can calculate and reduce your personal and business carbon footprint.
After calculating your carbon footprint, you’ll be more aware of the consequences of your choices. When customers ask you about green products or your environmental commitment, you’ll say you are educating yourself and have even calculated your footprint! Understanding how your current decisions and practices affect the world will strengthen your business, improve public relations and ultimately boost the economy.
A carbon footprint is a measure of the exclusive global amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases emitted by a human activity or accumulated over the full life cycle of a product or service. More simply put, the carbon footprint is a metaphorical description for the impact our actions and choices have on the environment. It measures the resources you consume, both directly (by the kind of car you drive and by how hot or cold you keep your house or business) and indirectly (by how much energy it takes to produce the products that you purchase).
When carbon-based energy (e.g. oil, coal, natural gas) is used, gasses are emitted, which adversely affect the planet’s atmospheric balance and can greatly affect climate. So we measure our impact, or the resources we use, by measuring the amount of greenhouse gases produced in units of carbon dioxide, thus calculating our carbon footprint.
So, a carbon footprint is calculated in two parts:
1) The Primary Footprint is a measure of our directly consumed non-renewable energy, creating CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. This includes home and workplace energy consumption, as well as transportation (e.g., car and plane).
2) The Secondary Footprint is a measure of the indirectly consumed CO2 emissions from the whole life cycle of products we purchase, rent and use — the carbon emissions created with the manufacture and eventual breakdown of these items. To put it simply, the more we buy, the more emissions we’re responsible for creating.
According the EPA, the process of recycling paper uses 60 percent less energy than manufacturing paper from virgin timber, while recycling aluminum uses 96 percent less energy than mining aluminum ore. So simply put, if you make a some lifestyle changes — reduce, reuse, recycle; support local businesses; purchase sustainable green and fair trade products; convert to compact fluorescents or LED lights; drive minimally and slower; and make energy saving decisions every day, like turning down the heat or air conditioning or using cloth tote bags — your business’ carbon footprint is probably already lower than average. Congratulations!
We each have the power to make really important changes in this world with our simple day-to-day actions. As we become smarter and more creative with our energy consumption, our planet will be healthier and our nation will be less dependent on foreign sources of carbon-based energy.
Sue Rostvold drives a compact car in Austin, Texas. She and her husband compost, recycle and garden to lower their carbon footprint. In addition to a 20-year career in the pre-press and printing industry, Sue is the passionate founder of Verysupercool “green” greeting cards. Her dog-themed, inspirational cards are printed on 100 percent PCW recycled paper. You can e-mail this article and find even more links about carbon footprints at www.verysupercool.com.