Fredericksburg SHINES

Leading the Way in Sustainability

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

What’s your shoe size?

Small can be good

Small can be good

You may have heard about measures aimed at reducing the size of our carbon footprint. In England, some companies have begun labeling their food products with a carbon footprint label. But what does this mean? A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact that our activities have on the environment through burning of fossil fuels. The footprint is a measurement in tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) of all greenhouse gases that we produce.


Do you know your shoe size?
How much CO2 do you produce? Websites with carbon calculators turn easy to supply information, like annual mileage and monthly power usage, into a measurement of CO2.

What can I do?
Many cities, including both Austin and Chicago, are beginning to implement climate action plans. These plans include different strategies for reducing carbon emissions and The City of Chicago has a wonderful initiative called the “$800 Savings Challenge.” The City has outlined several measures that you can do to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. By completing the $800 Savings Challenge, you can not only save $800 but reduce your personal greenhouse gas emissions by 2.92 metric tons. How much is that? About 7,500 car miles worth of gas.   See your savings add up by linking here!

I am replacing all of my light bulbs with Compact Florescent Light Bulbs as they burn out.   It’s a bit more expensive up front, but not having to change those hard to reach light bulbs again for up to 9 years is more than worth it!

The City of Austin recently began a campaign they call “The Big Push.” As part of this campaign, they are creating an Austin specific carbon footprint calculator. This calculator will be specifically tailored to the Austin environment. To learn more about Austin’s initiatives and for updates about their calculator, link here!

Reduce what you can – Offset what you can’t
Making small lifestyle changes, like turning down the heat a few degrees and switching light bulbs, can go a long way. However, most of us are probably not able to completely eliminate our carbon emissions. We can, however, mitigate our emissions by purchasing carbon offsets. A carbon offset program is a program that funds projects that produce measurable reductions in greenhouse gasses. For example, let’s say that you want to reduce your carbon emissions by one ton but can’t make any more concessions. By purchasing a one-ton carbon offset, you can fund a project that reduces carbon by one ton.   For an example of one carbon offset program, visit the Nature Conservancy website below.   Not all carbon offset programs are created equal, however.   Do your research to determine which carbon offset program works best for you.

Suggested web links

Here are some useful websites for measuring your shoe size:

The Nature Conservancy’s carbon offset program

The Carbon Fund

British Petroleum (BP) carbon footprint calculator

contributed by Natasha Ruser | Masters of Urban Planning and Policy Candidate | 5/19/2009 and updated by John Watson on 3/30/2012



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