We live on a beautiful planet.
So beautiful that it’s well worth taking care of. When I was in college, I took a number of environmental studies classes. For homework one night, we were each assigned to measure our ecofootprints to find out how many planets it would take to meet our needs if everyone on earth lived exactly like we did. I thought of myself as pretty green. I recycled, walked to school, shared housing and was frankly too broke to be a big consumer. My ecofootprint, circa 6 years ago? If everyone lived exactly as I did back then, we would need…
Over four earths.
I was crushed to realize I wasn’t living nearly as sustainably as I wanted to be. It’s something I’ve been working on ever since. I took the same quiz today to measure my eco-footprint and see if the changes my husband and I are making have made a difference. You can measure yours, too! Take the quiz here.
Some things I learned from today’s quiz:
- My carbon footprint is 66.16 global acres, compared to the national average of 91.43. That means my footprint is still pretty big, even though I take the bus and walk almost every day. That’s because I’m still driving on several long trips every year, and taking the car to visit my in-laws, grocery shop, or do my research and clinical work over 200 miles away! I have an older model Honda Civic, and in spite of my efforts to use it less, this is one area where I could really do better.
- Fact: Many of the steps we can take to reduce our carbon footprints are painless and simple. They can be as simple as turning the car off instead of letting it idle any time we have to wait, or taking the train instead of flying for shorter trips. Learn more here!
- My food footprint is 7.84 global acres. The national average is 65.74. Going vegetarian and shopping locally when possible makes a big difference!
- Fact:18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the consumption of animal products.
- My housing footprint is 11.38 global acres. The national average is 31.58. Living in a townhouse and minimizing water use with low flow toilets and showerheads makes a big difference here!
- Fact: Green cleaning products reduce environmental damage and indoor air pollution, and protect your health! Easy changes to make: Use vinegar and warm water to mop, and use baking soda to scrub dishes and counters and toilets and bathtubs! Want more? Check out these recipes!
- My goods and services footprint is 2.89 global acres. The national average is 57.66. This was the most striking difference – our decision to recycle whenever possible, to stop buying new stuff and shop mostly secondhand really reduced our household’s ecofootprint!
- Fact: Planned obsolescence contributes to waste in a big, big way! Check out The Story of Stuff and watch a really wonderful 20 minute video on this topic! I also highly recommend The Story of Electronics.
The good news: My husband and I have made great strides toward reducing our ecofootprints, by making changes that have improved our quality of life and our well being, and I feel very inspired to keep working at it!
The bad news: If everyone made the same changes and lived exactly like we do, we would still need 2.8 earths to live on. Our total ecological footprint is still too big.
We’ve still got a long way to go, but at least we’re on our way! Anybody got any good ideas for steps I can take to reduce our ecofootprint a little bit more? What are ideas you’re putting into practice in your own lives to live lightly on the earth?
Find out your own footprint: