Way #13: How Many Earths?
If you’re reading this, sustaining your lifestyle most likely requires a lot of resources.
Today, calculate your ecological footprint to begin to find out what impact your lifestyle is having on the Earth—and how many Earths would be needed if all 7.4 billion of us lived the way we do in the “developed” world. You may be surprised at what you find!
Why Do This Way?
We don’t usually think about the impact our lifestyles have on the planet. It’s often obvious how our choices impact our families, our jobs, our homes, our friends and our health, but we don’t normally consider the impact our lifestyle choices are making on the Earth. We need to.
What’s the point of learning about all of this? It’s certainly not to be made to feel guilty about the four Earths that would be required if everyone lived the way we do in the U.S. Rather, it’s to become aware that reducing your ecological footprint can start with seemingly small, individual steps—like flying less, using public transportation (not just thinking about it!), or purchasing food that’s grown locally. Concrete steps like that.
Some of our choices are more limited by societal structures, such as the transportation, heating, and housing options available to us. Keep in mind, as we saw in Way #3, there are multiple levels at which we can engage to create change: there’s the personal, there’s the level of family, there’s the level of policy, and there’s Level 3—engaging in your community as well as with local institutions and businesses. Even if you’re not ready to jump into action on this level right now, at the very least leave room in your awareness for the the possibility that shifting some of these societal structures might not be as impossible as it seems.
Engaging with This Way
After you’ve discovered your ecological footprint, if you haven’t seen The Story of Stuff, watching this little video can give you an idea of what it costs the planet to produce the “stuff” we think we need for our lifestyles—and who ends up paying for it.
Finally, thank you for engaging with this topic. For many people it’s easier to just stay oblivious, going about their lives without this kind of personal lifestyle examination. If we’re serious about reversing global warming, we really need to be willing to look at all of it.
Feel free to share any thoughts you have in the comments below.