The average carbon footprint of a person in the UK is just over 9 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). The US is slightly higher, at around 16 tonnes, among the highest carbon footprint per person, with the global average at around 6 tonnes per person, per year.
CO2e is a common term used when describing greenhouse gases as a likewise unit. By translating to a carbon dioxide equivalent, it makes it easier to compare. A tonne of CO2e is the same as having your heating on its highest setting for 80 days straight or driving 23,000 miles – just to put it into perspective.
While there are much larger issues that require governmental intervention to resolve, individual footprints add up massively when looking at the wider scale. So, making changes in your everyday life can reduce your carbon footprint and support positive changes on a global scale!
What impacts your carbon footprint?
Everything you do impacts your carbon footprint. From the diet you eat to how much time you spend in your car each week, there is an associated greenhouse effect.
For example, spending around £8,000 on goods and products (such as clothes, furniture, cosmetics etc) can create up to 6 tonnes of CO2e. So, the more we consume, the higher our carbon footprint will be.
Diet and food choices play a big part too. A diet high in meat, dairy, and imported produce can add around 5 CO2e to an individual’s footprint. But, cutting back to a locally sourced, whole foods based diet could reduce your additional food footprint to as little as 0.2 CO2e.
Travel is also one of the largest contributors. Driving an average of 10,000 miles a year could add up to 4 CO2e and a single long-haul flight could add the same. This is why experts advise to travel by public transport or bike where possible, and if you are flying, it’s best to opt for direct flights and economy seats.
To find out more about your carbon footprint and calculate how you can cut back, head over to the WWF website to calculate your carbon footprint.