Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ecological Footprint

I remember during my senior year in college, taking my very first ecological footprint test.  I assumed when I took the test that I would come back with an impressive score.  I thought that because for sometime I recycled, I used reusable bags, I picked up litter and bought organic, that I was doing what I felt was my part in turning around the damage my just being here did to the planet.  It turned out that I was very wrong in my assumption.

One thing that greatly affected my results, not to mention my view on consuming, was the location with which the products I was choosing were from.  Yes because the products are organic the process with which the products were made were less harmful to the environment.  But if the products came from Australia, and I live on the other side of the globe, then I have to take responsibility for the fossil fuels used to get that $3 product to my refrigerator.  It was this point in time that I began to realize the importance of buying local.  I mean I always knew that it was important to support local business, but now it was also an environmental issue to do so.  So I like to do what I can to keep it local.  I'll be the first to admit that there is room for improvement, but that will come with time.

Now back to the ecological footprint test.  Our ecological footprint measures how many resources we use in our daily lives.  People who have larger ecological footprints use more of nature's resources than those with smaller footprints.  The test is very simple.  It will ask you a series of questions such as where you live, how often you consume meat, where your groceries are from, how much you fly...that takes maybe 10 minutes.  We all have 10 minutes to spare, especially for our earth.  You can take the test here.

And why is this so important you ask?  Because it is scary how much of the industrialized world consumes the entire world's resources.  According to the Worldwide Institute, Despite rising consumption in the developing world, industrial countries remain responsible for the bulk of the world’s resource consumption—as well as the associated global environmental degradation. Yet there is little evidence that the consumption locomotive is braking, even in the United States, where most people are amply supplied with the goods and services needed to lead a dignified life.

Here are some facts from the Worldwide Institute's web site that might halt your consumption choices:

The U.S. Consumer

  • The United States, with less than 5 % of the global population, uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources—burning up nearly 25 % of the coal, 26 % of the oil, and 27 % of the world’s natural gas.
  • As of 2003, the U.S. had more private cars than licensed drivers, and gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles were among the best-selling vehicles.
  • New houses in the U.S. were 38 % bigger in 2002 than in 1975, despite having fewer people per household on average.
And these are facts are over 7 years old!

I hope that you take a minute to take your ecological footprint test.  I promise you will find it enlightening!

~Mommy Bridget