Calculating Your Carbon Footprint | Desert Botanical Garden

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Many of your daily household habits–energy use, transportation, waste disposal, etc., cause greenhouse gas emissions, which make up your carbon footprint. Explore this simple exercise to understand your carbon footprint and how to offset it.

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What Size is Your Home?

A smaller home uses less energy, produces less waste and therefore makes a smaller impact.

Large House: +10

Medium House: +7

Small House: +4

Apartment: +2

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How Much Water Do You Use?

Water consumption from dishwashers and washing machines can add up.

If you use your appliances…

9x/Week: +3

4-9x/Week: +2

1-3x/Week: +1

Don’t Use Appliances: +0

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How much trash do you produce?

How many trash cans do you fill weekly? The more waste your household produces the more your carbon footprint will increase.

If You Fill…

3 Garbage Cans/Week: +40

2 Garbage Cans/Week: +30

1 Garbage Cans/Week: +20

1/2 Garbage Can or Less/Week: +5

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Do You Travel?

Add up you annual transportation. Consider your travel, including how far you travel in a personal vehicle, public transportation and by plane for vacations.

Your Personal Vehicle


15,000+ miles/year: +12
10,000-15,000 miles/year: +10
1,000-10,000 miles/year: +6
Less than 1,000 miles/year: +4

Public Transportation


20,000+ miles/year: +12
15,000-20,000 miles/year: +10
10,000-15,000 miles/year: +6
1,000-10,000 miles/year: +4

Less than 1,000 miles/year: +2

Air Travel


International: +20
Continental: +6

Short Distances (State-wide): +2

How many people are in your household?

Do you live alone or with other people? Your carbon footprint as a solo-dweller will be higher because you aren’t sharing resources.

If you live…

Alone: +14
With 1 person: +12
With 2 people: +10
With 3 people: +8
With 4 people: +6
With 5 people: +4
With 6+ people: +2

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What do you eat?

A carnivore diet will result in a higher carbon footprint than a vegetarian one. A vegan diet lowers your score even further.

Daily Carnivore: +10

Carnivore 3+ Days/Week: +8

Vegetarian: +4

Vegan: +2

Mostly Prepackaged Food: +12

Fresh and Prepackaged Food: +6

Fresh, Locally Grown Food: +2

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What are your purchasing habits?

The amount of new household items you buy can affect your carbon footprint.

If You Purchased…

7+ New Items: +10

5-7 New Items: +8

3-5 New Items: +6

Fewer than 3 new Items: +4

1-2 or Secondhand: +2

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Do you recycle?

Recycling is an excellent way to reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Start with 24 and subtract 4 for each category.

Plastic: -4

Paper: -4

Aluminum: -4

Steel: -4

Food Waste (Composting): -4

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Moment of Truth

After you have calculated your points for each category, add them together to get your carbon footprint score. The lower the score the better. If your score is less than 60 points, then you are making a small impact on your planet. If it is higher than 60, then you might want to look for some ways that you can reduce your impact.

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