By CYNTHIA HUBERT
October 15, 2007
Your "carbon footprint" is a rough calculation of the amount of "greenhouse gases" produced, either directly or indirectly, to support your lifestyle.
For example, when you drive, the car engine burns fuel that emits into the atmosphere a certain amount of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas related to global warming. When you eat a cheeseburger, you're indirectly contributing to the production of CO2 based on the energy required to produce, store, transport and cook that burger.
How big is your carbon footprint? To get a general idea, consider the amount of CO2 generated to support your everyday activities.
-- If you get 30 percent of your calories from meat, dairy and poultry, as most Americans do, your diet contributes more than 3,275 pounds of CO2 to the environment each year.
-- Replace red meat with fish, eggs and poultry and save 950 pounds.
-- Go vegetarian and save 1,600 pounds.
-- TV sets, DVD players and cable boxes create up to 1,608 pounds of CO2 per year.
-- If you turn them off when you're not using them, you can cut that output by 240 pounds.
-- Computers generate up to 497 pounds of CO2 per year. Turn them off when you're not using them and save 43 pounds.
A refrigerator is the biggest energy-user in the kitchen:
-- A 1992 top-freezer model with 19-21 cubic feet of space emits 754 pounds of CO2 per year.
-- A 2002 side-by-side model with 19-21 cubic feet of space emits 442 pounds of CO2 per year.
-- Replacing an old refrigerator with an Energy Star model can eliminate hundreds of pounds of CO2 per year.
Drying clothes in an automatic dryer is a big source of CO2 emissions in your home:
-- If you run your dryer 10 times per week, you produce 822 pounds of CO2 per year.
-- If your dryer has a moisture sensor, you can reduce CO2 output by 15 percent.
-- Or dry your clothes on a clothesline instead.
-- If you take an 8- minute shower every day, you create 1,368 pounds of CO2 annually.
-- By shaving 2 minutes off of your shower time, you can shave that amount by 342 pounds.
-- 2007 Toyota Prius: 4-cylinder hybrid with automatic transmission and 2-wheel drive.
EPA greenhouse gas score: 10 (best score possible)
Grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile: Less than 296
-- 2007 GMC Yukon 1500; 8-cylinder gasoline engine with automatic transmission and 2-wheel drive
EPA greenhouse gas score: 3 (with 10 being the best possible score)
Grams of CO2 per mile: 669 to 730
Where do you stand?
For a more specific comparison of how your footprint compares to others, you can plug your personal information into a calculator created by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
On the Web:
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com
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