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The Sustainable Network by Sarah Sorensen

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Chapter 10. Carbon Footprints

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You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Business and Management axiom

You can’t improve what you don’t know, and you have no way of figuring out if something is getting better or worse unless you can measure it. So, what’s your carbon footprint? How about the footprint of the company you work for or the city you live in? How about the footprints of the companies you do business with? How about your car? Your bag of potato chips? Your favorite jeans? Don’t know? Don’t feel bad. The measurement standards are still in question and the debate for what constitutes a carbon footprint is currently playing itself out in the global theater.

Generally speaking, a carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere via any given activity; it can be attributed to almost anything, from a single product or individual to the operations of a business, government, or an entire country. The issue revolves around the expansiveness of the carbon footprint—how wide do we throw the net when measuring all the ways in which we can possibly impactthe environment?

Empirically speaking, we start at a disadvantage, because if I remember correctly from my third-grade science class, we humans emit CO2 every time we breathe. Thankfully, we are forgiven for the factories that our bodies are, as calculations of our carbon footprint tend to focus on the carbon emitted as the ...

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