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Calculate your carbon footprint

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Ever wonder about your carbon footprint? Virtually every act of consumption, every trip in a car or plane, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The average American produces an estimated 50,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in a single year, but there are many opportunities to decrease that number. The Internet is full of calculators specifically designed to establish the impact of a specific household—based on how many people live in the household and consumption of natural gas, coal, propane, etc. Most also offer a way for consumers to financially offset their carbon footprint.

One such site, carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx provides a free assessment of an individual’s carbon footprint. Then, a person can scroll through various carbon-offset projects including certified emission reduction, clean energy, Kenya reforestation, UK trees, and America’s offsets. The user specifies how much carbon they need to offset, and clicks to “buy” an offset. For example, to negate four tons of carbon dioxide, you can spend 30 Euros and pledge four trees to Kenya. Alternatively, you could pay 33 Euros to VCS verified carbon reduction projects worldwide.

Flight calculators can provide statistics for specific flights. For example, a round-trip flight between San Francisco and Barcelona, with no layovers, produces 2.79 tons of carbon dioxide, and costs about 25 Euros to offset.

Of course, there’s no requirement to purchase a carbon offset, and a great deal of benefit to knowing the impact a single individual can have. If you’re short on cash, but still want to minimize that impact, most carbon calculator sites also offer a list of suggestions for minimizing the impact. These include turning off electrical devices when not in use, condensing shopping trips into one weekly trip, doing full loads of laundry, and turning down central heating by one or two degrees.

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