Calculating Your Carbon Footprint

By Gwendolyn Tan, GLOBUS Correspondent

In the wake of all the newspaper headlines warning us about the impacts of climate change – predicting that the point of no return is upon us – it seems like the world we live in is extremely bleak and scary.

Nevertheless, if you’re determined to turn the tide a bit, why don’t you try to calculate your environmental footprint? This activity can be really informative as you might realise just how environmentally unfriendly your life might be, or it can just be a way for you to track your progress throughout the year as you embark on your environmentally-friendly journey.

To make this easier for your, we have prepared a brief overview of four environmental-footprint calculators that you might want to consider.

1) WWF Environmental Footprint Calculator

Categories: Food, Travel, Household, Personal Expenses.

Results: WWF calculator will tell you how your environmental footprint fares in contrast with the UK’s 2020 environmental targets. Moreover, it will provide you with a detailed breakdown of your footprint in each of the four categories.

WWF Carbon Footprint Pie Chart

Pros: If you click on the categories in the resultant pie chart, WWF will give you 3 tips for each category. They also give an easy comparison of your consumption; eg. what is your food consumption in contrast with the average annual emissions of a small car in the UK.

Cons: This calculator is a bit UK-centric – for instance, the travel section measures flight distance relative to the UK, so it’s difficult to calculate flights in other areas, such as from Tokyo to Singapore.

Review: It’s very simple and to the point! This calculator provides some interesting information about your daily habits. It might not be as accurate as the rest but it’s definitely a great starting point.

2) Global Footprint Network Ecological Footprint Calculator

Categories: Unclear, but they ask you about food, travel, personal expenses and household.

Results: This calculator is most unique as it measures your ‘Personal Overshoot Day’. This shows you how many planet Earths we would need if everyone in the world would live like you. Furthermore, you can use these personalised results and compare them to countries like China and the USA.

Pros: It measures your consumption and lifestyle using a score meter that allows you to specify your usage of certain products and services.

It also has a link to a forum site where individuals from around the world discuss and share their ideas about creating a more sustainable world.

Cons: Sometimes, it requires some obscure information – such the size of your house – which might be difficult to know, especially if you live in a dormitory.

Review: Similarly to the WWF’s calculator, it is simple to use! Another perk is the very pretty graphics on the site that change with every option you choose, making it easier to understand certain options.

3) UN Carbon Footprint Calculator

Categories: Household, Transport, Lifestyle.

Results: It calculates the total of your annual emissions in tonnes of CO2 in contrast to your country’s average and the world average.

Pros: It’s the simplest of the four to use and it gives you the opportunity to offset your carbon emissions from a list of verified projects on their website.

Cons: Similarly to the Global Footprint Network’s calculator some of the information is based on your household, which can be a bit complicated to calculate if you live in a huge dormitory with lots of other students. Also, it does not provide you with any sustainability tips,

Review: It is very simple to use and you can read up on their methodology as well. Nevertheless, the final calculation is bound to be incomplete, as the three measured categories present just a rough estimation of your actual carbon footprint.

4) Carbon Footprint’s Carbon Calculator

Categories: House, Flight, Car, Motorbike, Bus & Rail, Secondary Carbon Footprint.

Results: It calculates your total annual emissions in tonnes of CO2 in contrast with your country’s average and the world average.

Pros: It is very detailed and probably one of the more accurate calculators as it includes your secondary carbon footprint i.e. a comprehensive outline of your spending on things such as clothes, restaurants, or even pharmaceuticals. On top of that, you are given the opportunity to offset your carbon emissions from each category!

Cons: It is the least aesthetic one by far, but that shouldn’t deter you! However, as it is rather thorough it can be a bit demanding to know all the information that they ask you.

Review: This calculator provides you with the most accurate information by far. However, it definitely requires some time and determination to finish it.

Concluding remarks

We might desire a system change to combat climate change effectively. But whilst we continue pressuring governments and corporations to make these top down changes, let us not forget that we are also partially responsible. Calculating your carbon footprint might be a great start on your sustainability journey!

One thought on “Calculating Your Carbon Footprint

Add yours

  1. This is a really interesting collection of tool for some personal reflection. Useful as we rightly look to businesses, governments and other institutions to reduce our collective carbon footprint inline with requirements.

    However, many of us with globally higher environmental impacts have opportunities to make changes – we might ask can I be carbon neutral by 2030?

    Forget the “ice bucket challenge”; let’s take the reducing global warming one 😉


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