Carbon footprint refers to “the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activity.” Another way of defining it is the amount of carbon dioxide you produce by doing certain activities at certain periods of time. And while your carbon footprint is not something you can consider a trophy, having one is inevitable.
Most of your activities require you to burn carbon. In fact, the biggest contributors to your total carbon footprint are traveling and the usage of electricity at home or at your workplace. Even buying the things that you need add up to your carbon footprint simply because there was carbon dioxide emitted to be able to manufacture them.
Carbon footprint is commonly expressed in tons of carbon dioxide emitted and is generally calculated on an annual basis. The best way to calculate your carbon footprint is through your fuel consumption.
Take for example the US and the UK. For the former, each gallon of petrol fuel exhausted induces 10.4kg of carbon dioxide; for the latter, each gallon of petrol fuel exhausted induces 8.7 kg of carbon dioxide. The CO2 emitted depends on the type of fuel (e.g. diesel, gasoline, oil). Click here to find a sample computation and a table of units used when computing carbon footprint.
What You and Your Business Can Do
If you think that finding out how much carbon footprint you are worth is concerning, you can just imagine how worse your business’ carbon footprint is. However, since your business requires the use of fuel and electricity, it will be impossible to achieve a zero carbon footprint feat. The good news is that there are ways to actually minimize your business’ carbon footprint. Here are a number of tips that you can implement in your office:
- Streamline your appliances. A good deal of carbon footprint traces back to the energy consumed by air-conditioning. If your office has one (or more than one), what you can do is to keep the thermostat in a moderate setting. Installing top quality insulators also helps in minimizing energy consumption while still keeping the temperature comfortable. In addition, use compact fluorescent lamps or CFL, since these are more energy-efficient and they last longer. When possible, turn off all the appliances that are not in use, especially if your office does not run on a 24/7 schedule.
- Maximize business energy. Aside from economizing your workplace, you can also avail of the service called “green tariff.” Also known as environmental tariff, the green tariff is a tax charged on products sent to or imported from places where the pollution controls are considered substandard. This is commonly offered by bigger companies and they either provide assurance that a percentage of the energy you consume will come from a more ecological source or they would offset your carbon footprint.
- Recycle. If you study enough the things found in your office, you will realize that you can recycle many of them. Take your used ink cartridges, for example. You can have them cleaned and refilled for a lesser price. You can also opt to buy recycled ones since they are cheaper and more environment-friendly. Unleash your creative side by transforming coffee cans into customized pen holders and vases. And instead of throwing papers that has been printed on only one side, cut and bind them up, and then use them as a notepad.
- Use digital documents. Instead of printing every office document, memorandum, or announcement, switch to digital copies and circulate them either online or through the local network. You can also use digital signatures to sign your papers with. Doing this would not only lessen your business’ carbon footprint, it also reduces your expenses and unnecessary trips around the office.
- Partner with fellow advocates. Strengthen your cause by associating your business with companies that promote the same advocacy of minimizing carbon footprint. Look for suppliers who support the same campaign and work with them. If you are leasing your office space, encourage the management to join the drive for an environment-friendly way of operating a business.
- Freecycle. An amalgamation of the words “free” and “recycle,” to freecycle is to give away unwanted stuff to others who might find them useful. This works both ways since you can find things for your office that others already want to dispose of. Freecylcing is actually a better way to get rid of the things you have no use of instead of just throwing them away. You can find online communities that are engaged in this advocacy and start exchanging “freecyclable” objects as early as now.
- Encourage your staff to join in. Lessening carbon footprint becomes a better and more enjoyable activity when there are many of you doing it. Regardless of the size of your company, you can encourage your staff to contribute in their own little ways. Get them used to turning off light switches and unplugging the appliances when these are not in use.
Educate and Share
Similar to many advocacies, the best way to support the campaign of lessening your carbon footprint is by educating yourself. When you are well-informed about your cause, you will become more sensitive about how you can make things more environmentally sustainable for your business. Subscribe to news and updates about this topic and share them to the people you work with. After all, taking care of the environment is a win-win situation: you contribute to the improvement of your surroundings while being more cost-effective in your business.
About the Author: Carrina Candice is a writer and content manager for PrintRunner, an online company that provides quality printing for less. She is an avid fan of design and business articles.