It’s New Year’s Eve and time to think about resolutions for 2010. In addition to the usual resolutions to eat healthier, lose some weight and exercise more, I plan to reduce my ecological footprint.
The ecological footprint is a way to determine how many resources ones lifestyle requires. It can be through air conditioning your home, driving a vehicle, flying to Hawaii, or shopping for shoes. Almost everything you do requires the earth’s resources. Your footprint shows how many Earths it would take to support all 6.5 billion humans if everyone lived like you do. The earth’s population currently consumes about 39% more resources than the planet can regenerate. In other words, the way humanity lives is not sustainable.
Want to know how many Earths it would take to support 6.5 billion of you? Go to this website and play the Consumer Consequences game. Play to see which aspects of your lifestyle need improvement. Experiment with it to see what happens when you try different improvements. You will learn a lot. For example, I learned that my house is way too big for only two people. I cannot make my house smaller but I can improve its energy efficiency.
My resolution this year is to reduce my personal impact on the earth. The best way to live lighter is to consume less. We consumers are told that we run the economy by buying, buying, buying, but this is not sustainable. In the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” the most important word is reduce. The average American lifestyle would require 5.5 earths to sustain everyone on earth. At the rate we are going, we will run out of these resources if we do not reduce.
We can be sustainable consumers if we, the consumers, demand sustainable products. Be mindful when you buy. Think about the whole life of the product. Where was it made and how far did it travel to get into your hands? How is it packaged? Can the item be recycled?
Don’t buy something just because it is cheap. Many times we over consume just because an item is on sale. Buy only what you need and buy the highest quality you can afford. Do you really need something new? Maybe you can reuse that blouse or repair those shoes instead of tossing them out.
Buy reusable, not disposable products. Disposable products permeate our lives: plates, plastic bags, beverage bottles, razors, toothbrushes, mousetraps, forks, straws, napkins, lighters, and the list goes on. A reusable version of all these products is available.
There are many more steps one can take to reduce ones footprint on the earth. The important thing is to get started as an individual. The combined effect of many individuals can make a real difference. Have a Happy New Green Year!