Measuring Your Carbon Footprint

As the executive director of the Climate Change Coalition of Door County, Jeff Lutsey considers himself an environmentally conscious person. Even so, his carbon footprint – the amount of greenhouse gas an individual generates – is that of an average American: 16 tons per year.

Jeff Lutsey. File photo.

“It stinks,” he said. “If that’s average, we’re all doing a pretty bad job. But knowing this, I can ask myself, ‘What can I do about it?’”

Lutsey determined the size of his footprint by using the Climate Stewards U.S.A. carbon-footprint calculator. Though many similar calculators exist online, he said this version provides the best blend of accuracy and ease of access. 

It takes into account four main factors – car travel, air travel, home utilities and diet – and after all these factors are entered, a carbon footprint is calculated, along with a pie chart that shows how the four categories make up an individual’s footprint. 

The car you drive is one of the most impactful factors, according to Lutsey. That’s especially true for Door County residents, who have little in the way of public transportation and do a lot of driving because “all our little towns are separated,” he said. “So next time you’re deciding on a car, go for the one that’s a hybrid, or make whatever upgrade you can make to go from 20 miles per gallon to 30.”

The first (and perhaps easiest) step in reducing your carbon footprint is being aware of it and having casual conversations about it, Lutsey said.

“We’re all driving cars around and heating our houses,” he said. “We’re all part of the problem, and we’re all part of the solution.” To calculate your carbon footprint, visit

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