Calculating My Carbon Footprint

footprintI thought it was about time I calculated my carbon footprint. I have some factors which work in my favour. I don’t have a car, and I take the bus or even jog to work. I also try to be careful with turning appliances off, and our TV is so old-school I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s powered by some kind of dynamo instead of electricity.

There’s a massive range of carbon calculating websites and companies – some are in it for the money and some are not-for-proft. Some are very simplistic, and others are so complicated the polar caps will have melted by the time you fill in all the boxes.

I decided to make the government’s ‘Act on CO2’ calculator my first port of call. According to this:

  • CO2 emitted by my home and lighting is: 0.75 tonnes per year.
  • CO2 emitted by my appliances is: 0.62 tonnes per year.
  • Travel was a tricky one. You have to enter which flights you take each year, which is a vague way of calculating it – who goes to the same list of places every year? I put in a return flight to Brazil to get a long-haul flight into my calculation. Based on this, CO2 emitted by my travel is: 2.19 tonnes.

Excluding all the travel I do for work, my footprint is therefore 3.55 tonnes per year, which is the same amount as boiling water for 204,342 cups of tea apparently.  The national average is 4.46 tonnes. I’m over average on Travel, but well under average on ‘Home’.

My carbon footprint compared to the national average
My carbon footprint compared to national average

I’m smug to hear I’m doing well on household appliances but I know that with the amount of travelling I do for work, the purple bar on my graph would be off the scale. This calculator also fails to take into consideration the food and other products you buy, and how much you recycle and so on, so is extremely basic.

Next, I’m going to give the WWF calculator a try. The questions are quite different – this one takes into consideration how much meat and fish you eat, whether you’ve bought many new appliances in the last year, and what you recycle. Still excluding any business travel, WWF says my footprint is 14.72 tonnes per annum – rather different to the government’s 3.55 tonnes!

My footprint according to WWF
My footprint according to WWF

I’m also carrying on as if we had 3.13 planets to support us. Ooops.

A great thing about the WWF calculator is that you can keep updating your entry data to monitor the difference you’re making to your footprint. There’s some good tips on there too so I’m going to set to work on my 14.72 tonnes.

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