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Calculating Your Personal Nitrogen Footprint

We’re pretty familiar by now with the concept of a carbon footprint, which is a measure of how much of certain greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide and methane, specifically) each person, company, event, or product is responsible for.

But there’s another type of measurable footprint that some scientists believe to also have a profound impact on our environment, and that is the nitrogen footprint, which measures the impact of our activities and habits on the world’s nitrogen cycle.

Nitrogen pollution doesn’t get nearly the amount of press that carbon (or pesticide/herbicide pollution) does, but excess nitrogen runoff from agricultural fields leads to toxic algal blooms and “dead zones” in coastal waters. And when excess reactive nitrogen is produced (along with other emissions) from burning fossil fuels, it all adds up to a major environmental problem.

“Solving the nitrogen dilemma is a major challenge of our time. By calculating our individual impact, and taking small steps to reduce it, we can all play a part – and send a strong message to our nation’s leaders that we want this issue taken seriously.” – Allison Leach, University of Virginia

So how do we measure our own personal role in the nitrogen cycle? By calculating our nitrogen footprint, which is simple to do, thanks to a web application at N-PRINT.

By answering questions about what and how much you eat, what your travel and transportation habits are, and what your rate of consumer consumption is, the nitrogen footprint calculator demonstrates what your impact is on the world’s nitrogen cycle, and lets you compare it with the average.

After you’ve calculated your nitrogen footprint, N-PRINT can suggest ways to reduce it, including making renewable energy choices, making changes in your diet, and rethinking your modes and frequency of transportation and travel.

Find out what your nitrogen footprint is at the N-PRINT nitrogen calculator.


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