Calculating Your Carbon Footprint

April 22, 2019

Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22 and marks the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970, according to . The day is celebrated worldwide by bringing attention to environmental issues and stressing the importance of living an eco-friendly existence.

The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date and the rest is history.

Today Earth day awareness takes many forms. One way to consider helping the planet is by reducing your carbon footprint.

But what is a carbon footprint? Put simply, your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases you produce directly and indirectly through everyday activities, such as driving a car or turning on the lights.

Carbon footprints are usually measured in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide, or CO2.

But why is it bad to produce carbon dioxide? It is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Methane and ozone are other gases that are produced during day-to-day activities and contribute to global warming as well. They are also part of your carbon footprint.

Transportation is part of our day-to-day life. Click the carbon footprint calculator to determine your impact.

The Earth Day Network is launching an ambitious set of goals for the 2020 Earth Day, its 50th anniversary. In honor of the celebration, other than reflecting on your modes of transportation, consider taking your own action to protect the environment.

Ideas to Inspire:

  • “My classroom wrote 27 letters to the President about climate change.” –Emily, Philadelphia PA
  • “I gave up smoking as an act of green. I would have generated 730,000 cigarette butts and my kids would have inhaled my second hand smoke.” — Larry, New Orleans
  • “I planted 10 fruit trees for my less fortunate neighbor. He likes oranges.” — Ted, Tampa FL
  • “My family decided to stop eating meat for a month. We will let you know how that goes.” –Barbara, Des Moines
  • “I voted for candidates who believe that climate change is real. I guess I will have to get a few more of my friends the next time.” — Julio, Phoenix
  • “I planted 100 trees with my neighbors for Earth Day in our local park.” — Kevin, Savannah GA
  • “I broke up with my girlfriend because she would not recycle not matter what I said.” — Joe, Portland
  • “I bought a hybrid. It is awesome. Not much gas and it’s really quiet.” — Lionel, Brooklyn
  • “I gave up meat and plastic bags for Lent.” — Carol, Michigan
  • “I will start buying more organic food.” — Karuna, Kolkata India
  • “I will not hunt unless it is for meat to eat.” — Hank, Kentucky
  • “I quit using plastic bags.” — Emile, Lyon France