Calculate your greenhouse gas emissions and find out how to offset it

Achieving a sustainable planet starts with a sustainable life; discovering how your routine interferes with the climate is the first step towards changing habits

Carbon footprint: everyday actions are directly or indirectly related to the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere (Agência/Getty Images)

Carbon footprint: everyday actions are directly or indirectly related to the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere (Agência/Getty Images)

When thinking about the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) – of which carbon dioxide is the most abundant –, big industries, coal-fired power plants, or deforestation immediately come to mind as villains. It feels like something far away, sometimes even invisible, and you don't have much to do with it. Not exactly.

In fact, all our everyday actions and consumption choices have global consequences and interfere with the climate crisis. Going to work, cooking, taking a shower, traveling, shopping for clothes – these and many other everyday actions are directly or indirectly related to the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Therefore, it is possible to know how much of that gas you as an individual will emit each year. It is called personal carbon footprint, which indicates the GHG footprint you leave on the planet with your daily activities. The estimate can be made by an online calculator, accessible to everyone and takes into account some key information from your routine.

Let's do the math!

An example in Portuguese is the environmental fintech Moss calculator, which is based on the Calculation Tool of the Brazilian GHG Protocol Program. Other options are the Green Initiative calculator, a third-sector organization that works to mitigate climate change, and Idesam, an NGO that works for the sustainable use of natural resources in the Amazon.

In the last two calculators, together with the footprint result, there is an indication of how many trees you need to plant per year to offset your personal emissions, in addition to the alternative of contributing the equivalent amount to projects of environmental entities that will offset that for you.

Offsetting for personal emissions, in fact, can be done by any individual and is a trend that has been growing in recent years. Some celebrities have already been spreading the idea.

Brazilian Stock Car driver, Allam Khodair, for example, was the first zero carbon driver on the continent, neutralizing his emissions during races in partnership with Green Initiative and so did track mate, Cacá Bueno, with Moss. Other examples are Stone Gossard, guitarist for the band Pearl Jam, and actor Marcos Palmeira, who zeroed in on carbon with Idesam.

2050 is now

According to the environmental NGO The Nature Conservancy, each inhabitant of the planet generates an average of 4 tons of CO2 per year. And that number needs to be reduced to less than half by 2050 so that climate change does not worsen or becomes an irreversible problem.

In addition to the offsetting alternative, doing your part in reducing this starts with simple changes in your habits. Instituto Akatu, a Brazilian NGO dedicated to raising awareness of conscious consumption, exemplifies some:

  • Beware of the use of electricity. Avoid unnecessarily turning on lights, replace fluorescent lamps for LED lights, reduce bath time, do not leave appliances on stand-by mode, iron clothes only when necessary, do not open the refrigerator for no reason at all; choose appliances with energy efficiency certificate;
  • Replace old refrigerators. Refrigerators above 20 years of use emit CFC gas that destroys the ozone layer;
  • Pay attention to air conditioning at home and in your car. Have the refrigeration gas changed at a service center if they use CFCs or HFCs, gases with a high potential for damage to the ozone layer;
  • Don't buy clothes on impulse. By avoiding buying a single T-shirt, you save 1.4 kg of greenhouse gas emissions. This is generated from the planting of cotton until the piece of clothing reaches your closet;
  • Be careful with the correct disposal of waste. An old mattress, for example, should go back to the manufacturer or be sent to the nearest collection point. Old mattresses have foam made with CFC, which is stored in the material's bubbles;
  • Speaking of garbage, fight food waste. Organic waste, mostly food waste, usually goes to landfills and contributes to GHG emissions;
  • Leave your car at home more often and use public transport. Your car emits six times more polluting gases than railroad vehicles. For short distances, go on foot or use a bike;
  • Favor buying from local producers to avoid emission of gases with transportation and storage.

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