What’s the Damage?

Measure your environmental impact with these handy calculators.

By Betsy S. Franz

Exactly how big is your eco footprint? Online calculators can help you figure it out. Here are a few of our favorites:




This joint venture between the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tells you everything you need to know about your car and its impact on the environment. The “Find and Compare Cars” tool allows you to input any car model and year and returns a score for energy impact, greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution, with thorough explanations about what all these terms mean. Other useful links on the site include an explanation of hybrid vehicles, gas mileage tips, and a page that allows you to find the lowest gas prices in any area by entering your zip code.


Personal Emissions Calculator


Created by the EPA, this online calculator allows you to estimate you or your family’s personal greenhouse gas emissions. If you want to learn about actions you can take to lower your emissions while reducing your energy and waste disposal costs, click on to the next section. . For each action you choose to take, you’ll see the amount of emissions you could avoid and how that amount relates to your total emissions.


Paper Calculator

This calculator, produced by Environmental Defense, a nonprofit environmental organization, allows you to input the amount and type of paper you (or your company) uses, and then provides figures for wood use, total energy, greenhouse gases, wastewater, and solid waste. Use the “Group of Papers” option to compare paper types. A great tool to use if you are trying to encourage your company, local library, or copy center to switch to recycled paper.


Water Use Calculator  

Enter how many people live in your home and how often you shower, flush, and perform other activities that require water into this calculator designed by the city of Tampa, Florida. . Although the calculator only compares your result to the average Tampa resident, you still might be surprised to find out how much water your family is using.


Calculate Your Personal Impact  


Another calculator created by Environmental Defense.  Key in facts about your home and travel habits, and get back a figure for how much carbon pollution you produce. The calculator then equates the figure to how many trees in the Amazon rainforest would have to be cut and burned to produce the same amount of pollution.


Commute Calculator


How much does your commute impact the environment? Input the miles of your daily trip and the calculator returns figures for how much pollution your produce.

Hooked on calculators? More are available on the EPA website.

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