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Here's what you need to know about your carbon footprint

April 22 is Earth Day, aka one of our fave days of the year! It serves as the perfect reminder to get outside and enjoy everything our lovely planet has to offer. But while you're out smelling the flowers and taking in the fresh air, be sure to reflect on what *you* can do to protect the Earth in all its natural beauty. This year, spend some time learning more about your carbon footprint—and then decide to take a few steps to reduce it. Trust us, it's easier than you think! 

What is a carbon footprint?

According to The Nature Conservancy, a carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, industrial gases and even water vapor. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) explains that greenhouse gases trap energy in the Earth's atmosphere, therefore contributing to global warming. The moral of the story: the lower the carbon footprint, the better.

Unfortunately, the United States has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world. The average person in the United States has a carbon footprint of 16 tons. The global average is around 4 tons, so there's clearly still lots of room for improvement, both in the U.S. and worldwide.

How can you measure your own carbon footprint?

Greenhouse gas emissions are largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels, and the harsh truth is that so many of our day-to-day activities are run on these non-renewable energy sources. To find an estimate of how large your personal carbon footprint is, you can use this online calculator here. It will ask you some questions about what kinds of transportation you use, the types of food you buy and how much electricity you use.

You can use this quiz to see how you compare to the national and global average. From there, you can set a a goal for yourself and work towards lowering that number—for the sake of keeping Earth healthy and happy!

How can you reduce your carbon footprint?

Now that you have a clearer idea of the impact that your own actions have on the environment, it's time to decide what strategies you will use to reduce your footprint. There are *so* many different ways to go about decreasing your carbon footprint, so choose one or two that you know you can actually stick to.

Consider using public transportation more (or even better, committing to riding your bike) or incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet. You can also reduce your waste production by making some sustainable swaps or cutting out your fast fashion purchases.

How will you protect the Earth this year? Let us know on Twitter @girlslifemag!

More Earth Day inspiration, right this way...
🌎 8 ways to celebrate Earth Day this year
🌎 How to plant a butterfly and bee garden for Earth Day
🌎 This sunny day playlist is *perfect* for Earth Day

All GIFs via Giphy


by Melanie Dowling | 4/22/2023