How Big is Your Footprint?

Our teacher, Ms. Tilson , asked us how big our footprint was today. We started to take our shoes off and measure our feet, but she stopped us and asked if we knew the size of our Carbon Footprint.  The class looked around confused because we didn’t know that we had another footprint.

We leave footprints when we walk on the sand at the beach or when get our feet wet and track mud into the house. Our carbon footprint is a little different. We can’t see it, but it’s there and it impacts the earth by leaving a mark just like the ones in the sand and mud.

When we use fossil fuels like heating oil or coal to keep our homes warm in the winter and our cars running, that’s creating a carbon footprint.  These actions emit carbon dioxide, also called CO2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and makes up our carbon footprint.  The more CO2 that is created, the more carbon dioxide is released and the bigger our carbon footprint gets.  A big carbon footprint is not good for the earth. 

I know. I know. It’s easy to get picked up by our parents after school but doing so contributes to the carbon footprint. Instead, we should walk or bike to and from school or our friend’s homes. At the grocery store, check out where the fruits and vegetables come from. If they’re from another country, think about the amount of energy and gas it took just to reach the store.  That’s another big carbon footprint.

The best way to make your carbon footprint smaller is to use less electricity and less fossil fuels. Be sure to turn off your computer, television and lights when you’re not using them. Keep temperatures lower in your house during the winter even if you need to wear a sweater to stay warmer. Walk and bike whenever you can instead of using the car or bus. It’s great exercise too. I found out local farmers markets are a great way to get fresh fruit and vegetables. Buying from them reduces carbon footprints because it doesn’t take a lot of energy or gas to get them to us. Even though I still haven’t figured out how to get my favorite fruit, avocados, locally I’m going to try shrinking my carbon footprint.  

Lorenzo is a middle school student in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood.  He’s into spectrology, the TV show Ghost Hunters and watching the NHL.

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