carbon footprint: the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product (UK carbon trust 2008).
common greenhouse gases (GHG) in the earth’s atmosphere include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons. GHG, mainly water vapor, are essential to helping determine the temperature of the earth.
you don’t need to be a coal burning factory with giant vets of black smog to be guilty of carbon footprints. driving releases GHG. cooking releases GHG. the energy we use here in malaysia to power our houses and buildings and shopping malls all releases GHG. the portable generators used to power events and roadshows releases GHG. even the stuff we buy, like a bottle of shampoo, is manufactured at a place where GHG is released.
now, before you go all jurassic park on me, let me tell you that is impossible to live in this modern day and age without carbon footprinting. it is a bad thing, yes. but necessary.
it is possible however, to sorta ‘erase’ one’s carbon footprint. it is called carbon offsetting. this is done by compensating as much as possible for the GHG that you release. there is a simplified two-step process to doing this, and you should really sit up to learn it.
the first step, is to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as you can. really, as much as you can. wherever you see an opportunity to save, do it. collect rain water to wash your car. don’t turn on more lights than you need at home. switch off your computer when you are not using. don’t fall asleep in front of the telly. use both sides of paper. bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping so you won’t need to take a plastic bag. bring your own food container so you won’t need to use a styrofoam take-away pack.
the first step is crucial. you need to have as light a carbon footprint as possible. and here’s why: step two says that you need to compensate for what you could not help but to use. we need lights at night. we can’t help it, right? so the question is, what can we do to make up for what we used. plant a tree? plant more flowers? step two is not easy and really takes effort. time. money.
and so raises the question: how far do we really need to go with this? do we really need to offset completely the carbon we use? well, that is really up to your conscience. are there people, organisations and event out there that complete the second step and offset completely? – why, yes. this is called becoming carbon neutral. anyone who’s ever been involved in a carbon neutral project will tell you that it is NOT EASY. in fact, this is DIFFICULT. i should know.
but is the expectation really to go carbon neutral terus? of course not. from what i see, we can hardly pick up our asses to even make the effort to do step one, apa lagi nak offset carbon footprints? in my personal opinion, if all of us can even do step one, it would be an achievement that is quite membanggakan. if we could just keep our own carbon footprints low. reduce. recycle. turn off dripping taps. tu je. be a little more sensitive to your surroundings.
and you know what? it works better when everyone does it together. i get quite irritated when people ask me why i do the little things. one person won’t make a difference, they tell me. well bud, it would make a difference if you, instead of standing there and telling me that my efforts are useless, would join me. then there would be two of us. and if everyone who stood by and watched would do something, many people together can make a difference.