A carbon footprint is defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). When you heat your house with coal, oil, or gas, then you also generate CO2. “Carbon” is shorthand for greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. These gases are released by many different types of activity – not just the burning of fossil fuels, but also farming, deforestation and some industrial processes.
“Living in a way that honours rather than threatens the planet is living out what it means to be made in the image of God. …..What we face today is nothing less than a choice about how genuinely human we want to be.”Dr Rowan Williams
Instant ways to reduce your carbon footprint
- Walk or cycle more, drive and fly less
- Stop eating (or eat less) meat
- Plant a garden – especially if you grow fruit and veg
- Eat food that is LOAF – Locally grown, Organic, Animal-friendly, Fairtrade
- Line-dry your clothes
- Switch to sustainable, clean energy
- Repair, re-use, reduce, recycle
How to measure your carbon footprint
Go to footprint.wwf.org.uk and complete the carbon footprint calculator. It’s really easy and only takes a few minutes. It then tells you your carbon footprint in tonnes and compares it to the UK and world average.
Off-setting your carbon footprint
The most important thing to do is reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible. Once you have made all the changes you can, you then try to become carbon neutral. This means donating to projects which will either absorb carbon or reduce its impact.
The charity suggested by Eco Church is Climate Stewards.
To find out more, go to climatestewards.org where you can calculate the carbon usage of your car, your flights, your home, and your food – just about all aspects of daily life. Based on a cost of £20 per tonne of CO2 it calculates how much you would need to donate. It then offers a range of projects in countries including Uganda, Nepal, Kenya and Mexico which are promoting and supporting sustainable projects such as tree planting, biosand water filters and provision of smokeless metal stoves.
As soon as we are able to resume normal Church life we will be calculating the carbon footprint of our church building. We are already doing what we can to reduce it as we work towards our Silver Eco Church Award.
It’s essential and urgent that we become more aware of our impact on this beautiful world which God has given us and to do whatever we can to care for it.