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  • Writer's pictureJenna Granger

Your Carbon Footprint

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

What is your impact on this planet and what can you do to reduce it?

Grade Level:



Earth and Human Activity

Natural Resources

Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems

Global Climate Change

Tools &

  • Computer with internet access

  • Scientific notebook or paper

To Do & Notice

1. Question: What is your family’s carbon footprint?

  • Watch this video to learn what a carbon footprint is and why too much carbon is not good for our planet.

2. Make a Claim:

  • If everyone were to live like you, how many earths would we need to survive? 3? 4? 5? 6? (the average American needs 5 earths!!!)

3. Collect Data:

  • Go to this website to calculate your family’s carbon footprint. Follow the prompts and answer each question to the best of your ability.

  • As you go through the prompts, note the suggestions for reducing your impact. Which one’s would you like to implement?

4. Analyze and Interpret Data:

  • How many earths did you use? How close was your guess?

  • Pick your top three suggestions for reducing your carbon footprint. Can you start a compost? Adjust your thermostat? Carpool? Other?

  • Make a plan. How are you going to implement the suggestions that were made by the calculator? What are the steps that you will need to take to make it happen?

  • Start with step one and begin reducing your carbon footprint today!

5. Share your Findings:

  • Post your top three suggestions for reducing your carbon footprint and make a pledge to implement these solutions and inspire others on social media. Tag us @sweptahoe on Instagram and/or to @swep4 on Facebook. Be sure to hashtag and follow #SWEPsnippets. If you cannot post directly yourself, send to SWEP (

What’s Going On

Which country has the highest carbon footprint?

  • The largest share of global greenhouse gases emitted since the Industrial Revolution comes from the U.S.

  • Play the automation below to see how the US became the leader in emissions over time:

Why does the US have such a high carbon output?

- In brief: Americans tend to consume excess food, energy and transportation.

- In more detail:

  • Food: 40% of food produced in the US is wasted

  • Energy: For each kilowatt an hour generated in the U.S., an average of 0.998 pounds of CO2 is released at the power plant. Americans on average use 28.9 kilowatts in a day.

  • Transportation: The average passenger car emits 0.79 pounds of CO2 per mile driven. Check out the "Going Further" section below to learn more about your transportation impact.

- Want to learn more about how & why the U.S. is the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases? Did deeper here:


  • Carbon Footprint of a Sandwich: We often hear about the footprint of our cars and household items, but do you know the carbon footprint of a sandwich? Watch this video to learn all the ways that carbon is emitted in the process of creating the products needed to make a sandwich. Brainstorm ideas that could help reduce the footprint of your next sandwich. Could you make your own bread? Grow your own tomatoes?

Going Further

During the Covid-19 crisis, we are staying home, driving less, creating less air pollution and reducing our carbon footprint. Find out how much carbon you are saving from entering the atmosphere by staying home in the activity described here:

  • Calculate how much carbon you emit when you drive to and from school daily with this transportation calculator. Note the carbon used for this trip in your notebook.

  • Then calculate how many weekdays you have stayed home over this time and multiply that by the carbon you emit. This is how much carbon you have saved by staying home!!!

  • When you go back to school how can you continue to reduce your carbon emissions? Ride the bus? Carpool? Have your family invest in an electric vehicle?

  • See how much carbon you can eliminate from going into the atmosphere if you had an electric car. Use the same calculator and choose the electric car option.

  • Learn more about electric vehicles in this video with future Green Team member, Zuli Bancroft...

Thank you to our partners at Truckee Donner Public Utility District for supporting sustainable initiatives in our schools and communities!

Please review SWEP's Terms of Use prior to using this resource.


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