Green Calculators

by Ellen

There are so many ways to add up our impact on the earth — carbon dioxide emissions, pollution, water use, and paper consumption all figure into how well we treat our planet as individuals.  As countries we also help to shape what Earth will look like in the future.

Here are some cool “green” calculators:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a Household Emissions Calculator that lets you determine your household’s carbon footprint.  After you’re done, the calculator makes suggestions for reducing your emissions.

• We hear a lot about carbon footprints, but do you have any idea what your water footprint is?   Since water is used to produce many products that we use and foods that we eat, it’s good to get an idea about what our individual requirements are.  The Water Footprint Network has a useful calculator that takes into account direct and indirect uses of water.

• Do you pay your bills online?  PayItGreen lets you calculate how much paper, water, gasoline and greenhouse gases you can conserve by paying online.   They say, “In one year, by switching from paper to electronic billing, statements and payments, the average American household would save 6.6 pounds of paper.”

• Zerofootprint has a great calculator for kids!  Transportation, school habits, home life and food are all considered.  When they are done tallying, they can compare their “footprints” to averages from other countries.

• How many planets does it take to support your lifestyle?  This calculator is both fun and shocking!  Earthday Network Footprint Calculator

• Want to see how much air you polluted in the last month?  Visit AirHead’s Emissions Calculator.  It’s easy to see what your biggest source of pollution was and how you compared to the average American for that same month.

• Here’s a really neat calculator that lets you see the carbon footprint of different countries, broken down by such factors as the influence of imports and exports, government consumption and household (direct and indirect) greenhouse gas emissions.  The accompanying paper, Carbon Footprint of Nations: A Global, Trade-Linked Analysis, says in its abstract:

…We quantify greenhouse gas emissions associated with the final consumption of goods and services for 73 nations and 14 aggregate world regions. We analyze the contribution of 8 categories: construction, shelter, food, clothing, mobility, manufactured products, services, and trade. National average per capita footprints vary from 1 tCO2e/y in African countries to 30t/y in Luxembourg and the United States. The expenditure elasticity is 0.57. The cross-national expenditure elasticity for just CO2, 0.81, corresponds remarkably well to the cross-sectional elasticities found within nations, suggesting a global relationship between expenditure and emissions that holds across several orders of magnitude difference. On the global level, 72% of greenhouse gas emissions are related to household consumption, 10% to government consumption, and 18% to investments. Food accounts for 20% of GHG emissions, operation and maintenance of residences is 19%, and mobility is 17%. Food and services are more important in developing countries, while mobility and manufactured goods rise fast with income and dominate in rich countries… ¹

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1)  Carbon Footprint of Nations:  A Global, Trade-Linked Analysis, by Edgar G. Hertwich and Glen P. Peters. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2009, 43 (16), pp 6414–6420.

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