I consider myself to be pretty environmentally responsible. I work hard to reduce my consumption, to re-use items I already have, and to recycle the things that I can’t re-use or re-purpose. I garden and shop at farmer’s markets, and I buy local and handmade whenever I can. Of course, I am far from perfect. I don’t think anyone is, and I’m certainly not holding myself up as an example for everyone to follow. But I really do try to consider the impact of my actions.
How well am I doing? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that question, but I decided I would look to the internet to see if I could find any clues. I came across an Ecological Footprint Quiz, which calculates the impact that your choices have on the earth. Overall, my results were pretty good. I have a much lower carbon footprint than the average Canadian, and my goods and services footprint is less than 25% of the national average. My housing footprint is lower than the average as well, and my food footprint is only a little higher. But even still, if everyone lived as I do we would need 3.43 Earths to sustain us all.
Where am I falling down in my efforts to live sustainably? Our single family home in the suburbs is not the most environmentally-friendly option, but I’m not planning on moving. Plus, in some ways living where I do actually helps since I have a garden, and I have excellent access to composting and recycling unlike my apartment-dwelling days. But the other big area is my choice to eat animal products. I eat meat and seafood and lots and lots of dairy. There are few foods that are not improved by a generous topping of cheese, in my opinion.
After I finished my quiz I read the suggestions for reducing my carbon footprint. And in the spirit of making a fresh start for 2010 I resolved to make a few changes.
1. Reduce my consumption of animal products. I will not cut these out completely, but I could certainly get by on a little less. Baby steps, right? I will start by doing one meatless day a week. I will also strive to find ways to cut back on dairy while I’m at it. Recipe suggestions are welcome!
2. Wear a sweater. We keep our house really warm. Last year I considered lowering the thermostat, but with a small baby I was hesitant to go that route. This year, though, I have a robust and active toddler who never stops moving. Reducing the temperature by a couple of degrees would not hurt us, and it could save some money, too.
3. Expand my garden. I would like to put in a new raised bed so that I can grow more of my own food. I also think that with a little more effort in the planning I could get a better yield of produce that we actually want. I like cucumbers, but we really will not eat more than 70 of them over their short growing period, you know?
These are not huge, earth-shattering changes by any means. But smaller changes are more likely to stick, I think. And then maybe next year I can grow on these changes even more. What about you? Do you have any plans to implement a more sustainable lifestyle in 2010? If so, please share!