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What is a carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint is a way to express our personal contribution to the earth’s carbon budget. The size of our carbon footprint depends upon the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere as a result of our routine activities and practices – our daily commute, how far and how often we choose to travel and mode of transportation we choose to travel by, the food we eat, the food we waste, the clothes we buy, the type of lightbulbs we use, everything we throw away, and more. The larger our carbon footprint, the more we are personally contributing to climate change.  Individuals, families, communities, businesses, cities and countries all have unique carbon footprints.

It is important to note that the term ‘carbon footprint’ was first coined by a public relations firm working for British Petroleum, one of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world. Their ‘carbon footprint calculator’ helps place the blame for climate change on the consumer and hides the role of the fossil fuel industry in perpetuating the climate crisis.

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Circular economy

A circular economy differs from an extractive industrialized economy that removes raw material from nature and converts it into products that are soon discarded in the form of pollution.  Circular economies are based on three key principles: eliminating waste and pollution; keeping products and materials in use; and regenerating natural systems.

Carbon budget

The carbon budget is the largest amount of carbon dioxide that a country, company, or organization has agreed to release in a particular period of time

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The Maine Climate Science Portal was envisioned and developed by Maine Climate Action Now. Content development, to date, has been a largely-volunteer effort. Click here to see a full list of contributors.

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