What is A Carbon Footprint?
Carbon footprint is the total carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere through the activities of an individual within a specific time frame. This calculation is normally done yearly.
The various activities of humans do release some amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and this CO2 is also a major chemical contributor to ‘greenhouse gases’ which brings about global warming. Humans, either knowingly or unknowingly, through their daily activities add some quantities of carbon dioxide to the already existing carbon in the atmosphere and this in turn results in a worsening of the global warming situation being experienced nowadays.
Activities like driving a car that uses any of the fossil fuels as its energy source, heating your home and even producing food and other consumable products, in one way or another lead to the emission of CO2 gases into the atmosphere and this takes the global warming phenomenon to a whole new level. With an ever expanding population, you can easily see how this is being a major problem for us.
Understanding the concept of your carbon footprint helps us to get a better view of the impact our activities are having on our atmosphere.
Since nations and institutions began campaigning and creating an awareness for a reduction in the amount of harmful gases that the activities of man emit into the atmosphere, people have become more conscious of the impending danger our activities cause. This has led many to decide to adopt environmentally friendly attitudes to help sustain, if not make better, the climatic conditions we have right now. Some say that we are on the cusp of it being too little, too late.
Some adopted environmentally friendly ways of living
- The use of electric vehicles: This is the use of vehicles that do not make use of fossil fuel as their energy source but rather use electricity to drive them. By using such a vehicle, an individual is able to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted which would have been emitted into the atmosphere through the burning of the fuels by conventional vehicles.
- Electric heaters: This has to do with homeowners going eco-friendly by choosing electric heaters as their main heating method in their homes over gas powered ones. Using these electric heaters ensures that the safety of the environment becomes our topmost priority. These electric heaters do not emit any of the harmful greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Its usage also ensures that the user is does not indirectly pollute the quality of air in his or her room as the usage of other heating methods like the wood-burning fire do tend to produce some amount of smoke which leads to air pollution. Moreover, these electric heaters also ensure that one’s room is not made dirty as there is no real fire and so no firewood is needed.
As the campaign for an environmentally friendly way of living rages on, there seems to be an aspect that has somehow been relegated to the background of the fight against the worsening state of the environment. This has to do with the various gardening appliances that are being used by homeowners.
For a very long time now, people have resorted to the use of gardening equipment without giving a thought to whether they are environmentally safe or not. The lawn mower happens to be one such gardening appliance that has been widely used by both individuals and organizations without knowing how environmentally friendly they are.
There are two main categories of lawn mowers and though they all ensure that we do get fine looking grass lawns, they do offer contrasting things when the safety of the environment is taken into consideration.
Gas/Petrol Lawn Mowers (Power Mowers)
These mowers have been in existence for quite some time now and the amount of harmful gases they emit into the atmosphere have gone unchecked for as long as into the mid 1990s.
When using these garden mowers do get the job done, it is important to know that the job gets done at the expense of the individual’s health and that of the environment. Their use comes with a range of problems that seem to always go unnoticed. Some of these problems are listed below:
- The older ones are the most inefficient lawn mowers around, whereas new machines such as the McCulloch m46-125wr are much more fuel efficient
- Up to a third of their fuel and oil go unused as they leak out of the engine
- They emit gases that are not only harmful to the human respiratory system but also contribute their quota in further deterioration of the problem of global warming
- When the inhalation of these harmful substances go unchecked for some time, it eventually may causes cancers to develop and also harms the respiratory system
- The smog that is emitted from these gas lawn mowers tends to inhibit the growth of the plants they come into contact with
Although these gas mowers are now being subjected to the EPA’s Phase II and Phase III regulations, which have significantly reduced the amount of greenhouse gases they emit, they still do use gas and the burning of petrol by the lawn mower leads to some degree of greenhouse gases being emitted.
Electric Mowers (Push Mowers)
These are lawn mowers which do not make use of any of the fossil fuels as its source of power. Rather, the use electricity to generate the power they need to get the lawn mowed. These mowers fall within the range of environmentally friendly garden power tools even though there remains some degree of pollution from their usage.
The usage of these electric lawn mowers presents the user with the following benefits:
- They do not emit any harmful gases
- They help in eliminating the situation where gas and oil spills onto the grass being mowed
- They are also very efficient
Using an electric mower helps reduce carbon dioxide by as much as 80lbs within one year which is equal to the quantity of carbon dioxide released by just one power mower.
The quantity of gas burnt by Americans in their bid to mow their grass every year is equal to eight hundred million gallons.
Union of Concerned Scientists Fact
The quantity of harmful gases released by a single power mower within the period of one hour equal that of 8 cars going at a speed of 55 mph over a one hour time frame.
The use of all other electrically powered gardening appliances reduces the quantity of harmful gases that would have been emitted into the atmosphere if gas powered gardening appliances are used.
Using the electrically powered gardening appliances in one way or the other helps in reducing the emission of GHG into the atmosphere and this eventually leads to creating a better environment for all humans.