Have you ever thought about your own carbon footprint? The number may surprise you; try it now using the EPA carbon footprint calculator.

Many of our daily activities — turning on lights, driving a car, using electricity, throwing away garbage — emit greenhouse gas. All of these carbon emissions make up your carbon footprint. Just like fingerprints, everyone has a unique carbon footprint, and it is based on activities, location, habits, and choices.

While CO2 emissions are unavoidable, there are easy ways to help reduce your impact on the environment.

Drive less and drive smart

Make an effort to walk, bike, or take public transportation. Cutting down on your car mileage by just 5,000 miles a year can cut about 15 percent of your carbon footprint.

If you absolutely have to drive, efficient driving can conserve gas, money, and carbon emissions. Keeping your tires properly inflated can save up to 700 pounds of CO2. Stuck waiting for a drawbridge or a train? Do not idle. Turning off a car engine for even 5 minutes can save 107 pounds of CO2.

Workplace smarts

Enable double-sided printing as a default on office printers, install motion-detecting lights, and power down computers when not in use. Actions that may seem small do add up to help reduce your carbon footprint!

Intelligent eating

We waste 14–25 percent of the food we buy; our food system accounts for almost a quarter of all human carbon emissions. Eating seasonally and locally can reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 10 percent. Additionally, consider the fact that cows and sheep emit methane at alarming rates.

You do not have to forego meat altogether, but making an effort to consume meatless meals can make a difference in greenhouse gases. Simply being aware of your household’s food waste can contribute to reducing your carbon footprint, and you can save energy (and money) while doing it.

Consider home choices

Make sure your home is properly insulated and sealed. Poor insulation results in heat loss and cool air escaping, meaning more electricity is used to keep the dwelling at a comfortable temperature. Invest in energy-efficient appliances that meet or exceed government specifications.

Offset

While there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint, offsetting is a way to make up for what you cannot control. When you purchase carbon offsets through companies like Carbonfund.org or TerraPass, you offset your carbon footprint while funding projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At Mercer Foods, we take sustainability just as seriously as we take freeze-drying. Find out more about our sustainability mission, and feel free to ask questions or leave comments on our Twitter or Facebook pages.