Q: How can I most effectively reduce my carbon footprint?

A: Making changes to what you eat and how you travel can result in significant changes to your carbon footprint. Of course, there are steps you can take to be more energy efficient at home and at work, too. Considering the impacts of the products that you buy could also be effective. Please see all of our Act pages for great ideas about how to reduce your carbon footprint.

Q: How do I know the impact of different actions that I take?

A: There are a lot of ways to measure the impacts of your actions.  For example, you may find that you are taking out less garbage because you are buying products with less packaging, recycling more and composting.  You can track how much gasoline you are buying. If you reduce the amount of gas that you buy by a gallon per week, you will reduce your carbon emissions by a about a 1,000 pounds per year.  Review your water bills and electric bills over time and look at the trends. If you reduce your usage, you will save money and you’ll have a positive impact.

There are a lot of free online calculators that can help you estimate your carbon footprint. The UC Berkeley CoolClimate Network provides an example. Some calculators are associated with organizations that sell carbon offsets.

Carbon footprint calculators:

UC Berkeley’s Carbon Footprint Calculator

EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator

Q: How do you start a conversation about sustainability?

A: There are many ways to start conversations about sustainability. The best way to start a specific conversation will depend on the circumstances and who is participating in the discussion.

One way to start a conversation is to ask a question and to let the answer you get lead you to the next question to ask. You can start by asking about what someone does for fun or what are their interests. See if they already consider the environment or sustainability iin what they do. Compliment them from what they are doing that is consistent with sustainability principles. You might consider asking about concerns that they have which could relate to any aspect of social, economic or environmental sustainability.

Another way to start conversations is to act in a sustainable manner in ways that other people can see what you are doing. For example, if you figure out how to commute by bicycle or by carpool occasionally, you will likely have opportunities to discuss how you were able to do it which might get someone else to try.

You could try having a vegetarian or vegan party. When you talk about what you are serving you can explain why you selected the menu and what you have learned about how your choices seem to be more sustainable to you and you can explain why it is important to you.

Q: How important are my individual actions?

A: Answer to be added

Q: How does carbon dioxide emissions affect the ocean?

A: Carbon dioxide emissions cause the ocean to become warmer and more acidic. Warming, caused by heat trapped by carbon dioxide, impacts coral reefs and ocean currents.  Carbon dioxide reacts with water to form carbonic acid. As the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the concentration of carbon dioxide and carbonic acid in the ocean increases, thereby making the ocean more acidic.  Just like what happens in a home aquarium, if the pH gets out of balance, creatures start to die. Acidic conditions impact oysters, clams, corals, some plankton and other creatures. Impacts to these creatures could disrupt the ocean food web. This could be catastrophic to people who depend on the sea for food.

What is Ocean Acidification?