At Brighter Planet, we do carbon calculations a little differently from other folks. We’ve put a ton of thought and work into our carbon profiler, and we think it’s the most flexible, comprehensive, and accurate calculator out there. Briefly, here’s how it works:
- We start by looking at all of the emissions for the entire US. We adjust this number to include the emissions from producing all the stuff we import from other countries and exclude the emissions from stuff we export. This ensures we don’t leave out any emissions we’re indirectly responsible for. We divide that total by the US population to figure out the average American’s share. That’s our starting point—about 28 tons per person for 2009.
- Next, we pull together a bunch of data about how much the different parts of our lifestyles contribute to that total footprint. All our emissions come from four broad categories:
- Transportation (like cars, planes, and trains)
- Shelter (like houses, dorms, and hotels)
- Consumables (like food, clothing, and waste)
- Government (like schools, streetlights, and fighter jets)
- Then, we let you answer questions about each of these categories. We replace our initial estimates with personalized values based on what you tell us about your lifestyle. Each time you tell us something new, your individual footprint will go up or down, depending on how you compare to the average American.
- This all happens on an ongoing basis, so any time you take a flight, buy an offset, reduce your electricity bill, or just feel like learning a little more about your emissions, sign on and answer some more questions and we’ll show you how your footprint has changed.
If you’re still looking for more detail, check out our methodology paper.
All these calculations are based on loads of data. Most of our numbers come from government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Information Administration, and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. For more info, check out our data sources.
Click here to start using the calculator now.