This carbon calculator will help you take action against climate change

Sponsored feature: Project Neutral provides users with detailed carbon footprint information, along with actionable ways to do more

(This story is sponsored by Project Neutral)

In the fight against climate change, recent conversations and protests have pivoted to what individuals, corporations and governments can actively change to reduce their environmental impact, rather than simply create awareness around what needs to be done.

Part of knowing what to change involves knowing where to start. A Toronto-based charity, Project Neutral, is giving people not only an accurate assessment of their carbon footprint, but concrete steps they can take to directly reduce that footprint.

Product manager Jake Miller says Project Neutral started as a more neighbourhood-focused project to encourage discussions among neighbours around utility bills. He noticed that environmental groups across the province began using the tool for facilitated sessions.

“We started to realize that maybe it was more than just a simple carbon calculator,” he says. “Maybe we’re more of an engagement tool.”

The next iteration of the tool, Miller explains, is something people can use in groups to contextualize the climate crisis on a personal level, and explain “actionable insights” on the steps they can take in their own lives.

Users of Project Neutral can input data, such as the car they drive, the food they eat, the flights they’ve taken and the waste they produce. Community groups can use the tool as well to compare and track data.

Sarah Lazarovic was first introduced to the tool through her neighbourhood. Someone on her street encouraged her and her neighbours to implement their data as a way to compare their carbon footprint as a community.

“We’re not great judges of what actually creates emissions,” Lazarovic says.

She thought she had a good idea of what her footprint would look like, but because the tool details exactly which lifestyle choices contribute to a higher footprint, she soon realized where she went wrong.

“I grew up in a warm climate and my tendency is to heat our house really high. You can upload your actual energy bill, and very quickly, you realize, ‘Oh, that’s actually how bad it is,’” she says.

She also noticed that frequently taking flights was a large contributor to her footprint as well. Only after using Project Neutral did she decide her family would visit relatives living in Europe once every four years instead of every year.

Stephanie Barraco learned about the tool at a carbon reduction convention, and she says Project Neutral was the perfect “starting point” for her journey to reducing her environmental footprint.

“I liked how the tool breaks your emissions down into categories because it naturally leads you to making some personal reductions,” she says. “The messaging wasn’t accusatory. It was empowering.”

Barraco realized her travel and transportation footprint was highest so she made changes, even altering her honeymoon so that there was less flying involved.

It comes down to making conscious personal choices along with advocating to change within our own communities, says Miller.

“If we start making different choices and if we start advocating for different technologies and different options as consumers and as people and communities, that’s going to make an enormous difference.”

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