My Ecological Footprint

After retaking the quiz to determine my personal footprint using the ecological footprint calculator on the Global Footprint Network website, there is still an obvious need for me to change my ecological footprint.  I took another run through the quiz because after receiving a score of needing 10.3 planet Earths “if everyone lived like me” on the Basic Information version of the quiz, I felt that there were many aspects of my lifestyle I could not express in that basic form.  Thus, the basic format did not make considerations for certain distinctions which would more accurately define my footprint, such as the fact that I rarely buy meat or fish from a grocery store.

Almost all of the meat and fish I prepare at home are a product of my personal hunting and fishing harvests.  These are wild animals that are not costing the Earth in the usual, and more expensive, way a farm raised animal would.  Yes, I do expend fossil fuel in pursuing them and I do puchase goods that are the tools for my harvest, but there is no way wild game costs the Earth as much natural capital as farm raised animals  

Retaking the quiz in the Detailed Information format made an enormous difference in my footprint.  The detailed format brought my ecological footprint down to the need for 4.4 planet Earths “if everyone lived like me.”  According to this figure, it requires 19.7 acres of the Earth’s productive area to support my lifestyle.  I still have some reservations about not being able to go even more in depth with the way I feel I work to conserve and preserve our natural capital, and with the assumptions that are made because of the country in which I live.  I agree that America is a throw-away society, but, like in all aspects of society, it is not fair to stereotype by nationality.  Also, the fact that my footprint jumps from 10.3 to 4.4 between the two versions of the quiz makes me hesitate some as well about the accuracy of the final tally.

However, for the simplicity of the quiz, I realize some assumptions must be made.  That being said, there are still changes I need to make to improve my ecological footprint, obviously, because we don’t have 4.4 planet Earths – we have one.  If I want this one planet to be a livable place for my children’s children and grandchildren, then I need to adjust my worldview from a mix of planetary management and stewardship to at least a mix of stewardship and environmental wisdom if not making a total lifestyle commitment to environmental wisdom is not possible.

I can make changes to certain aspects of my lifestyle that will benefit my footprint, such as purchasing more organic foods.  I like my toys and gadgets, but I have subdued my obsession with these things.  When the urge arises in the future, the better option would be to buy used.  I am already a diligent recycler inside and out of the home, but there is still much more I can do to reduce the amount of unnecessary waste and the amount of natural capital that is necessary to produce, dispose, or recycle it.  I can use less fossil fuels in my home and on the road by using my mountain bike for the commute, keeping an even closer eye on my energy saving thermostat, reducing the amount of time energy spent manicuring a park like acreage and allowing the growth of more native plants, and substituting the motorcycle for the truck on longer journeys – now if I only had a sidecar for the dog!  I draw the line at my house though – because I like it.  I won’t trade it in to pitch a tent somewhere just because the dog and I are the only ones using this space.  I am making the effort to consolidate more individuals under the same roof however, so I guess that is a work in progress.

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