Understanding Your Carbon Footprint and How to Reduce It

Every single person on the planet has a carbon footprint — even those who try their best to sustain an eco-friendly lifestyle. An invisible attribute, a carbon footprint is a measurement that refers to the amount of carbon dioxide and combined greenhouse gasses emitted by a specific person, group, product or service, or activity, such as airplane or cruise travel. Dwellings are large contributors to our carbon footprints, because they consume energy through electricity, water, and heating and cooling systems. This article will provide an overview on how to minimize your overall carbon footprint, and contribute to a more eco-friendly home.

Calculating your carbon footprint

Without even realizing it, over time, daily activities in the home can take a toll on the planet. According to Statistics Canada, households in Canada usually contribute to greenhouse gas emissions in two ways: direct emissions from motor fuel use and residential fuel use account for about one-third of household emissions, while indirect emissions from the production of the goods and services that households consume make up the remainder. A recent report states that to heat a one-bedroom home in Ontario, the average carbon footprint equates to 1.7 tonnes per year. 

Just like a set of fingerprints, no two carbon footprints are identical. Depending on where you live, your carbon footprint may be bigger or smaller than others. City dwellers, for example, who may enjoy all-inclusive hydro in their rental agreements might use more electricity and water than those who own their own home and keep an eye on their bills. But, because individual units are housed in one commercial building, the carbon offsets could also be less, as shared walls are thinner and other units can enjoy sharing the heat from the same source. Remote communities that are equipped to support green-friendly initiatives like solar panels or wind energy could also have a drastically lower carbon footprint.

The following products and services in your home can contribute to an increased carbon footprint:

How you heat your home

There are several ways to heat your home in Canada. Most households use a forced air system that is powered by natural gas, which allows hot air to move through the ducts. A recent Enbridge estimate cited by ECO (Environmental Commissioner of Ontario) says that the average emissions from heating an Ontario home are roughly  1.7 tonnes per person per year, including the upstream emissions from producing the heating fuel.

Try these tips to reduce your carbon footprint at home:

  • Use heat or air conditioning sparingly—when it’s possible, wear a sweater or other layers, instead of cranking the thermostat up a few notches.
  • Make sure that any heat leaks, such as poorly sealed windows, or uninsulated attics are corrected to prevent heat from escaping the home.
  • If you live in a semi-detached, or a condo, your building shares a heating system, which will make the entire building naturally warmer. Use your own heat sparingly.
  • Consider switching to more energy-efficient heating options (for example, low-carbon fuels, or even installing solar panels if your property supports this).

What you eat

The foods you prepare at home can also impact your overall carbon footprint. Overall, plant-based foods have a lower impact than meat, eggs and dairy. Livestock produce manure which produces an influx of methane gas, which can also be found in the fermentation of food within those animals. Food waste is another major problem, as is disposing of it correctly.

Try these tips to promote a more eco-friendly diet at home:

  • Incorporate at least three vegetarian-based meals per week.
  • Do your best to portion your meals correctly. If there are leftovers, try your best to use them the next day.
  • Weather and seasons permitting, try your hand at growing your own food. If you live in a house, start a vegetable garden. If you’re in a condo, look into community gardens nearby, or create your own garden oasis on your balcony!
  • Support local farmers or grocers as much as possible and purchase what’s in season— many of the products we love are shipped a great distance, which also increases our carbon footprint.

Meet Goodside: Carbon emission tracking made easy

There are currently 7.6 billion people living on this earth. That’s a whole lot of people sharing one global home! Located in Toronto, Ontario, Goodside is a division of RBC Ventures Inc. The company was founded by a group of climate supporters who are fighting for a greener tomorrow. Goodside aims to help individuals make environmentally conscious lifestyle choices.

Through the company’s real-time carbon footprint tracker app, eco-conscious consumers can track their carbon offsets to better understand and realize how to reduce and offset their overall carbon footprint. The app has many user-friendly features, including rewards for lowering your carbon footprint, as well as helpful tips and tricks, personalized progress reports, and a user profile that allows the individual to access past data.

There are a number of ways that you can easily reduce your everyday carbon footprint, without significantly interfering with your lifestyle. 

Ready to start?

Check out Goodside’s free and downloadable guides, check out the blog for ongoing informative articles, or sign up today to start your journey to a lower carbon footprint.

Get on the Goodside

Goodside is empowering consumers to make more informed choices about their purchases. Learn more about carbon footprints, climate change and pre-register for the Goodside app to get rewarded for living sustainably.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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