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  • Do you know what your carbon footprint is?

    DATE: 06/10/2022

    Published by: Norberto Odebrecht Foundation

    OCT’s Carbon Calculator offers a way to neutralize these emissions

    Are you going by car or by bus? Did you turn off the light in the room after you left? Will you send your garbage for recycling or not? In everyday life, each of these decisions may seem small. But all these together influence a very serious issue: how much carbon dioxide we are emitting into the atmosphere, the so-called ‘CO2 footprint’. Also known as carbon dioxide, this substance produced naturally in respiration and consumed by plants in the photosynthesis process, is today present in much larger quantities than the natural ones because of pollution, and is considered one of the gases that most influence climate change.

    The reason for this increase is precisely the habits adopted by each one of us: the unbridled use of cars, wasting electricity, and not recycling waste, for example, contribute to air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. The good news, however, is that it is possible to contribute to changing this trend. And to do this, one must start with information. One way to estimate how many tons of CO2 you emit per year is to use the  Earth Conservation Organization’s (OCT)Carbon Calculator. The institution, which is a partner of the Norberto Odebrecht Foundation in carrying out the PDCIS, a social program that promotes sustainable development in vulnerable regions, makes the tool available for free on its website.

    To use it, all you have to do is register and then answer six questions, such as the average amount of energy you spend on electricity in your home and the number of trips you have made in the last year. The result gives an approximation of the amount of carbon dioxide you emit annually. An average Brazilian emits about 10.4 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, according to a study by the System of Estimates of Emissions and Removals of Greenhouse Gases (SEEG). Your result may be higher or lower than this, but knowing this is only the first step in trying to reduce these emissions and contribute to the conservation of the environment. Learn two ways to do this today:

      Plant trees to neutralize carbon

    Think of carbon emissions as a debt that a person accumulates over time – and now needs to invest time or resources to pay off. Fortunately, paying off the CO2 ‘debt’ may be easier than it looks. One of the most efficient ways to do this is by planting trees. According to the Earth Conservation Organization, 1 hectare of restored forest, after 30 years, will be able to sequester approximately 275.1 tons of this gas. Since this removal is done naturally, and planting trees also has other benefits for animals, soil, water, and humans, it is possible to neutralize part or all of our emissions by planting these species.

    If it seems difficult to plant trees alone, it is also possible to outsource this action: OCT, for example, provides reforestation services for carbon neutralization. In the institution’s Carbon Calculator, it is possible to request this service easily, right after calculating the emissions.

    Did you know, also, that another option to neutralize CO2 emissions is to buy so-called carbon credits? Every time an organization or company reforests an area, it can generate Certified Carbon Credits for the Voluntary Market, which can be sold and contribute to the economic development of socially vulnerable regions. To learn more, access the Carbon Projects practice in the systematization of our Social Program.

    Change habits and reduce your emissions

    It is not enough, however, to just try to neutralize the emissions that have already been made. It is also necessary to change attitudes so that this ‘debt’ does not continue to grow year after year. One way to lessen this impact is by asking yourself the same questions that opened this text: how about changing the car for a bus or subway on some journeys? And open windows, so you don’t have to turn on the light unnecessarily? Another option is to separate the garbage generated in your home, and take recyclables to a correct destination. It is also possible to reduce your carbon dioxide footprint by decreasing the amount of products you buy on a daily basis, purchasing only what is really necessary, and prioritizing sustainable brands.

    Want to know what other actions you can take not only to reduce CO2 emissions, but to help conserve nature? Remember these tips from Environment Month.

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