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Your Carbon Footprint
There’s a lot of talk about carbon footprints at the moment, but how many of us know what they are? writes Peter Bottomley.

Peter BottomleyA Carbon Footprint is a measure of the amount of CO2 emitted through our daily lives, and it is split into two parts. The first is called the Primary Footprint, and this is what we do in our everyday lives at home, work or play, such as travel, holidays, food and the fuel we burn in our houses and cars. The other one is called the Secondary Footprint, and this what other people do on our behalf, such as manufacturing, the government and local councils with street lighting, schools and local amenities. All these things use energy and emit greenhouse gases.

So what can we do to lower our own emissions? The national average in Britain is 10 tonnes per person per year. That’s 5 Primary tonnes, and there are all sorts of ways you can lower this yourself.

You can travel less in cars, planes or boats, try to walk to local shops and buy locally grown vegetables and dairy produce. Children could walk to school in the Walking Bus Scheme instead of being dropped off there in cars by their parents. Turn down your central heating thermostat by 2 degrees and use low-energy light bulbs. You can recycle glass, cans, plastic, paper and use a compost bin for all your organic waste from your garden and kitchen.

Turn off any mobile chargers when not in use and don’t leave any things on stand-by mode, because electricity is one of the biggest producers of carbon emissions, so every time you make a cup of tea or coffee or turn the telly on you are adding to global warming.

If you water the garden (as if – in this weather!) get a water butt, pipe the rain-water pipes into it and use that instead of tap water. This also saves money if you have a water meter.

All food has a measurement on it called Food Miles. This is how far food and drink has to travel to get to your house, like tomatoes from Spain and wine from Chile. So the old saying `Buy British` is more relevant now than ever.

Many businesses are now having their footprint measured for the financial year by environmental management firms, to see if it can be lowered. Every little bit we do helps, and if everybody does something, it is a massive help towards stopping Global Warming and Climate Change.

Act on CO2There are websites on the internet that have footprint calculators to work out your emissions and how to lower them. There are many simple ways to do it, so why not have a think, look at your way of life and try to do your best?

It does not cost the Earth to save the Earth.

© Peter Bottomley, 2007

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