Life Changes, Your Ecological Footprint Changes

Life Changes, Your Ecological Footprint Changes

Tess Wilson
Aug 26, 2011

A new home or a new city can have dramatic effects on your personal ecological footprint. Have lifestyle changes drastically increased or decreased your environmental impact? I know mine have…

There are a million ecological-footprint or carbon-footprint calculators out there — I tried several, and ended up going with The World Wildlife Foundation's EcoGuru, the EcologyFund's calculator, and the Global Footprint Network's quiz. I used each to measure my current eco-impact, and then recalculated based on my lifestyle one year ago, to find out how many Earths would be required if everyone lived the way I do.

2010: No driving, no public transportation, no heating, no cooling, 2 people in a 400-square foot apartment, mostly local/organic food, no meat/fish/eggs, dairy rarely, occasional new purchases, less than 10 hours of air travel per year.
WWF EcoGuru: 1.6 Earths
EcologyFund: 2.2 Earths
Global Footprint Network: 3.4 Earths

2011: No driving, approximately 15-miles public transportation/week (due to different job), no heating, no cooling, 1 person in a 400-square foot apartment, mostly local/organic food, dairy very rarely, only used purchases, 65 hours of air travel per year.
WWF EcoGuru: 2.0 Earths
EcologyFund: 3.4 Earths
Global Footprint Network: 4.2 Earths

As you can see, the results vary wildly from calculator to calculator, but the message is the same: I am using too many Earths! How can I cut back? I could stop taking the train to work, buy my energy from renewable resources, convince my landlord to get us a city compost bin, eliminate dairy completely, and stop buying fascinating foods from the Japanese grocery store, but the air travel will still kill my score. Being so far from loved ones has serious environmental consequences, so until teleportation is perfected, I'll have to figure out someway to offset those consequences. Suggestions?

Have you been able to keep your footprint reasonable, despite life changes? Has your new home/city/job actually improved your footprint? Let us know how!

Image: Joyce's Eco-Friendly Home House Call

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