A Bigfoot Sighting—Too Close to Home

bigfoot.jpg I have seen Sasquatch, and it is me. At the prompting of some members of the Louisville Sustainability Forum--a newly-formed community in Louisville, Kentucky, designed to bring together people who are working for or interested in making Louisville a more sustainable city--I recently visited www.myfootprint.org and took the Ecological Footprint Quiz. The quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 easy questions, like, “How often do you eat animal based products?” and “What is the size of your home?” you are able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use and to what is available on this planet.

My results were, well, embarrassing. My ecological footprint is 25, which means that my lifestyle requires 25 acres of the planet just for me. The average for folks in the U.S. is 24. Seems that if everyone on earth wanted to live the way I live, we would need 5.7 planet earths.

Thankfully, this site offers many ways one can reduce one’s impact on earth, some of which are easier than others. They include:
-Eat less meat
-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!
-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.

For more helpful tips on how to live sustainably, visit Turn the Tide: 9 Actions for the Planet, where you can get nine quick tips for reducing your footprint. While it may not seem as feasible to move into a smaller home or trade in your car, there are many things we all can do to reduce our impact on Mother Earth. So, what size shoe do you wear?

Caroline Heine

Posted at 7:46 AM, Jan 08, 2007 in Environment | Permalink | Comment