Monday, April 16, 2007
What Is Your Ecological Footprint?
Have you ever stopped to think about how just your actions effect the Earth? EarthDay.net has put together a "footprint" quiz so you can determine just how much of an impact you have on the Earth. Here is the link to the quiz. My total footprint was a 10, but mostly because I don't drive that much. I'm sure if I was commuting daily, my footprint would have been much larger. At the end of the quiz, it told me this:
IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 24 ACRES PER PERSON.
WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 4.5 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE ACRES PER PERSON.
IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 2.3 PLANETS.
Ummm, did you catch that last one?? We would need 2.3 planets! That's pretty scary considering my footprint is much smaller than the average American's.
After you take that quiz and determine how big your footprint is, you have to decide what you can do to make it smaller. That website has a ton of great info on how to do that. Here are some ideas that they include:
Hungry for still more ways to change your life? You might:
Eat less meat: A plant-based diet generally requires less land, energy, and other resources. Crop-based food requires an average of 0.78 global hectares per ton of food, compared to 2.1 global hectares required to produce one ton of animal-based food. See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on this topic (and others!).
Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle and reduce the amount that you drive-walk, cycle, carpool, or use public transportation instead.
Avoid purchasing disposable items with lots of packaging. Re-use items when possible, and always recycle items that are recyclable.
Compost kitchen waste: Garbage that is not contaminated with degradable (biological) waste can be more easily recycled and sorted, and doesn't produce methane gases (a significant greenhouse gas contributor) when stored in a landfill.
Plant native and drought-tolerant plants in dry regions to reduce water use.
Be a conscientious consumer—learn about sustainability-friendly products here, courtesy of The Center for a New American Dream. Also, for a teenage perspective on “buying different,” click here.
Visit the GreenMarketplace, an online green shopping center, for all sorts of environmentally friendly products.
Share magazines and catalogs by donating them to hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices or by creating an informal program in which you rotate magazines and catalogs among your neighbors.
Save trees by freeing yourself from junk mail, in three basic steps! Also courtesy of The Center for a New American Dream.
Reuse and recycle packing materials. You can recycle materials like packing “peanuts”—simply call 1-800-828-2214 for the Plastic Loose Fill Council’s “Peanut Hotline” and they’ll tell you the nearest recycling location.
“It’s amazing what a small group of committed people can accomplish to change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead
How can you create your own small network of people?
Start a conversation by asking your friends about their social and ecological concerns.
Encourage your friends to visit www.myfootprint.org and make their own lifestyle changes using the Take Action Calculator as a guide.
Recruit some friends to get involved with you in local and global movements for social change. To find an Earth Day event or Earth Day network group in your own area, click here. For a list of other interesting nonprofit organizations that welcome volunteers in your area, try www.care2.com. or www.idealist.org.
Involving society means encouraging political leaders, schools, and businesses to use resources responsibly, to teach others how to do so, and to proactively track resource use in communities, organizations, and entire nations. As an individual, you can:
Write a letter to your local government representative.
Speak to your school district about incorporating the Ecological Footprint into their curriculum.
Inform local businesses about the Ecological Footprint, and encourage them to calculate the mark they leave on the planet. For information on a Footprint quiz tailored specifically to businesses, contact www.rprogress.org or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or see our detailed summary of Ecological Footprints for businesses and the government.
Register to vote and vote for candidates who support:
Renewable energy policies
Highly fuel efficient modes of transportation
Protecting existing ecologically productive lands
Restoring degraded natural areas
Promoting organic and local food sources
Setting standards for recycled product procurement policies and fair trade
This website has more ideas as well.
So start reducing your footprint!!