What does it mean to offset your carbon footprint?


You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘offset your carbon footprint’ getting thrown around a lot lately. It’s fair to say the environment remains a hot topic. But before you can talk about offsetting emissions and reducing your carbon footprint, it’s crucial you know what they actually are in the first place.

What is a carbon footprint?


You can’t offset correctly what you don’t understand, so let’s break it down. A carbon footprint basically refers to the carbon emissions (a.k.a. greenhouse gases) that individuals, families or businesses create. This can be through their day to day lifestyle choices (lights left on, driving, having a bath etc), or larger one-off decisions, like flying internationally or even just moving house.

Carbon emissions are also known as greenhouse gases. The release of these gases into our atmosphere traps heat and ultimately causes global warming. Why does this matter? Well, global warming causes knock-on issues such as flooding and extreme weather conditions which impact us all, either directly or financially.

However, there are different types of carbon footprints

Carbon footprints aren’t one size fits all though (pun intended). In fact, there are two variations on carbon footprints—primary carbon footprints and secondary carbon footprints. Before we begin discussing how best to offset them, we must understand the difference.

Your primary carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases produced by things over which you (or your family, or businesses) have direct control. This typically refers to transportation and household energy according to Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Secondary carbon footprints, on the other hand, comprise of the carbon emissions produced by things over which you do not have direct control. This typically involves ‘carbon emissions associated with the consumption of goods and services’, the Encyclopaedia Britannica goes on to say. The emissions resulting from food production, for example. Or the manufacture, transport and storage of products in a warehouse also come under this.

What does it mean to offset your carbon footprint?

Offsetting your carbon footprint means reducing carbon emissions in one area to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. When done well, this effectively cancels out your carbon footprint.

How can I offset my carbon footprint?


There are many ways to offset your primary carbon footprint, and most of them are common sense small changes that you can make in your day-to-day life.

I’m sure you are well aware that you should turn the light off when you’re not in the room, or opt for daylight. And turn off the electrical appliances when they’re not in use. Or to not keep the tap unnecessarily running on full blast.

These are also little things that make a massive impact, like being mindful of your thermostat to save on energy. Need another reason? You can save around 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you turn down your thermostat. Wash and dry full loads to save on energy and use the economy setting. Adding insulation in your home wherever possible will keep you warmer and eliminate the necessity for the heating.

This will save you some cash too. Try and walk or cycle if you can. It gets you more active and you’re not releasing any carbon emissions whilst getting from A to B. After all, it only takes 21 days to adopt a habit, so you’ll be reducing your primary carbon footprint before you know it!

Take Buzzmove, a UK-based company which actively aims to offset the carbon emissions produced by moving house, both nationally and internationally. They contribute to projects which help repopulate Scottish woodland. Alternatively, you can look into energy suppliers who rely on wind or water energy, rather than fossil fuels. The options really are endless!

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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