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Do you know your carbon footprint?

A large percentage of people still do not understand the meaning of carbon footprint and an even larger percentage do not know their individual carbon emissions.

Carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, released in the atmosphere as a result of an activity by an individual or other entities.

The more natural resources, time, energy, manpower and waste generation related to the manufacture of a final product, the greater the carbon footprint produced.

All our daily activities add to our carbon footprint. The realisation of exactly how much allows us to understand which choices are better. When we make simpler, logical choices, we reduce our carbon footprint.

It is easy for an individual to argue that he should not have to worry about his carbon footprint as, compared to big industries, it is insignificant.

Small activities on an individual level may seem inconsequential, but when multiplied by millions of similar individuals doing similar activities, they suddenly seem like a big problem.

Several apps and calculators are available to help us calculate our carbon footprint. They can help calculate the difference between walking and driving to a nearby destination, eating a vegetarian meal over a non-vegetarian one, or refusing a single-use plastic bag for a reusable one. Such apps can help one monitor one's carbon footprint and suggest ways on how to reduce it. This does not mean that we must stop using the Internet or eating our favourite cheeseburger, for instance. What it means is that we make more conscious and responsible decisions based on the understanding of the impact of our actions.

As British historian, explorer and activist Robert Swan, who is best known for being the first person to walk to both Poles, said: "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it."

Snigdha Sharma (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 22, 2018, with the headline 'Do you know your carbon footprint?'. Print Edition | Subscribe