Stories from Sustainable Living

Berkeley’s carbon footprint calculator shows *exactly* how your lifestyle affects the environment—and how to change it


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Photo: Stocksy / Trinette Reed

Carbon dioxide levels are higher today than they’ve been at any point in the last 800,000 years. In fact, NOAA reports that the last time the global atmospheric CO2 reached current levels was 3 million years ago. With climate anxiety becoming more and more prevalent, its important to know your impact—and where to scale back. University of California, Berkeley’s CoolClimate Network is here to help with a a calculator that delivers an estimate of your carbon footprint.

“All the things we do as the result of being humans alive on the planet today result in carbon emissions,” Peter Miller, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Energy Program, Western Region, previously told Well+Good. Berkeley’s calculator is a kind of quiz that asks a series of questions related to your income, modes of transportation, utility usage, the food you eat, and how much you spend on other goods and services.

Once you input your data, it allows you to choose from actionable steps to decrease your footprint, like riding you bike 20 miles a week instead of driving, or switching to more efficient light bulbs. The quiz asks questions about how many miles you drive a year, and how much do you spend a year on electricity, so pull up past bills and look through your purchase history to really get an accurate depiction of your habits.

Nearly everything we do uses some form of energy, so it can be hard to find affordable, meaningful, and practical ways to cut back. Little things like shopping sustainable brands can help or buying in-season fish can make a difference. You can also purchase carbon offsets, which allow you to give money that’s proportional to your carbon habits to groups and projects working to reduce carbon emissions. You can make an impact if you try.

This is what environmentally conscious travel looks like in 2020, and here are some tips to keep your vaycays sustainable.

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