What is a carbon footprint & how to reduce it?

Reducing your carbon footprint is a great first step of combating the negative effects of climate change. At trace, we know that this can be an overwhelming task and so we’ve created this breakdown to help you out! 

What does ‘carbon footprint’ actually mean? 

To put it simply, a carbon footprint is the impact that we have on our environment. Essentially, it is the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere as a result of our activities. For example when you drive your car to work this emits carbon and contributes to your carbon footprint.

You can find out your carbon footprint by answering a few quick questions about your lifestyle in our carbon footprint calculator. Your results will show you how many tonnes of carbon you are likely to cause each year and you will get a breakdown of the emissions so you can see the biggest activities in your lifestyle that contribute to your footprint.

Why should we care about our carbon footprint? 

Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted by human activity, it is important to note that it isn’t the only gas but it is the most significant so we will keep things simple and just stick to carbon dioxide. Scientists have proven that the accumulation of these gases causes global warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere. 

So, back to you and why you should care, everyone has a personal  carbon footprint which contributes to global warming. The effects of global warming go beyond higher temperatures, higher temperatures cause sea levels to rise, extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity and much more. The higher your footprint is the higher your contribution to issues like global warming. 
In order to maintain the world as we know it we need to reduce our negative impact on the planet and so reducing our carbon footprint is a good place to start. The good news is; your carbon footprint can be measured and reduced with some simple actions.

How big is an average carbon footprint?

The average carbon footprint is different depending on the country you live in. There are lots of different factors that affect this but the main one is how energy is consumed, this accounts for 73% of worldwide emissions.  We have used lots of different footprint data and sources to understand the average tonnes of CO2 emitted per person per country (including Our World and World bank data). Here are a few;Australia = approximately 21 tonnes, we saw a drop due to covid which is why we created the Light carbon footprint planUSA = approximately 16 tonnes UK = approximately 12 tonnes 
Dashboard photo showing how a user can track their impact

Offset your carbon footprint

Did you know you can reach net zero right now by offsetting your carbon footprint? trace handpicks projects that remove your carbon emissions from the atmosphere. You can track your impact on your own personal webpage and read about the impact you are having through our project stories.

Get started

What are the main contributors to a carbon footprint?

When it comes to your carbon footprint your travel, food, shopping habits and housing are the biggest contributors.

This is Tracey

- She lives in Australia
- She is vegetarian
- Doesn’t have renewable energy
- Recycles where she can
- Has as small car which she just uses for short trips 
- She made a few big trips by plane this year (total 50hours)

Tracey's Carbon footprint
= 15.5 tonnes of CO2 per year

🏠 Household = 12 %
🥫 Food & Waste = 15%
✈️ Travel = 48%
🛒 Goods and services = 18%
🚗 Ground travel = 5%

5 easy steps to reduce your carbon footprint

Reducing your carbon footprint in these categories can have a massive impact! Especially if lots of us do it together!

1. Reconsider what you eat

Our diet can play a significant role in our carbon footprint- it’s not just what you eat but the processing, shipping and packaging all contribute too. If you can, considering supporting locally produced agriculture - check out your local farmers market for some fresh organic options! 

Try a plant-based diet - cutting down on your dairy and meat is really impactful! Beef, lamb and cheese are some of the foods with the biggest carbon footprint. Have a read here about how to make changes in your diet!  

Another thing to consider is the waste you generate from food. You can cut down on your waste with initiatives like composting- which is great for the environment and your garden! By cutting down on waste, you’re making sure you don’t waste all the resources that went into its production.  

2. Cut down on your energy bills

Reducing your energy consumption is not only environmentally friend but cost friendly too! 

One of the most simple things you can do is UNPLUG your appliances; idle electronics consumer 44 million tonnes of CO2 every year!! If you unplug your devices you can save money and emissions!

3. Be mindful of your spending habits

Everything we buy has a carbon footprint associated to it. By choosing to shop sustainably- you can can have a real impact both socially & environmentally.

Why not try to give your self a challenge like not buying anything new for 2 months! Try to borrow or rent out items you may not use regularly- and when you are buying something new make sure it’s high quality so it will last. 

Focus on the R’s: Refuse, Reuse, Repair, Recycle — especially refusing to buy goods with a lot of plastic packaging.

4. Be conscious of your travel habits 

If you can walk or cycle! It is also better for your health :)

If you have to use the car consider carpooling for common journeys like travelling to work or picking up the kids from school. This way, you’re splitting emissions between the number of people in the car.

If you’re looking to purchase a new car, think about getting an electric one. Especially if you’re charging with renewable energy!

5. Stay committed & set goals

Setting goals and committing to actions with friends or family holds you accountable.

Did you know you can become net zero today by offsetting your carbon footprint? Whilst it is really important to be conscious of your footprint and take action to reduce it why not offset with a rewarding & impactful membership to kick start your journey!?

When you reduce your footprint you will need to offset less - think of it as a saving!

Thanks for reading!

Cat & Jo