Today I decided to take a look at my environmental impact, also known as my ‘ecological footprint.’ There are several sites that measure your ecological footprint. I used the site linked to the Wellbeing page, www.myfootprint.org. The questions were easy to answer and for the few I didn’t know off the top of my head I used the national average, which was provided by the site.
I learned that if every single person on Earth lived the same way that I do, we would use up 4.1 Earths! To be honest I was pretty shocked. I have become known to my friends as the eco-friendly fanatic and although I know that I am not perfect when it comes to being eco-conscious I do make a very strong effort. According to the website the average U.S. citizen leaves a footprint of 246.41 global acres. My consumption level was only 159.27 global acres. If my consumption was over 4 Earths this means that in reality U.S. citizens are living completely unsustainable lives that could consume over 6 Earths!
I found out all this information, so now what do I do with it? Thankfully the site answered my question. There are a ton of suggestions of how to reduce your footprint by category. My two highest consumption categories were food and goods and services. To reduce my food footprint I can 1) eat more local, organic, and in-season foods; 2) Plant a garden; 3) Purchase foods at the farmers markets; and 4) Choose foods with less packaging. To reduce my goods and services footprint I should 1) Buy less; 2) Recycle more; 3) Compost food waste for garden use; and 4) Buy more recycled products.
After reviewing these subtle but impactful changes in my lifestyle and choosing a few I really know I can keep up with, I retook the quiz to see how much those few changes will impact my eco-footprint. With new habits I could reduce my eco-footprint to only 3.19 Earths or 123.76 global acres. This is a 23-percent reduction with just a few simple changes.
For more information about sustainability and your ecological footprint, visit wellbeing.wsu.edu and check out the following links.
Photo Courtesey of Innovations in Civic Participation
http://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator (this quiz is visual and gives a lot of options)