Ecological Footprints – how many Earths
Last month, we unveiled a brand new action for the world’s largest environmental service campaign, A Billion Acts of Green®. We asked our followers to pledge to Slay Vampire Energy by unplugging household appliances when they’re not being used. As it turns out, appliances continue to consume energy and add to your electricity bill even when they’re off, so we tried to encourage people to end this wasteful practice. Nearly 600 people made the pledge to slay vampire energy. Over the course of the next year, these people can collectively save nearly half a million dollars on energy costs and prevent almost 300, 000 pounds of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere! Saving money and protecting the environment-what could be better than that? Thanks again to all those who participated.
Given this success, today we are launching a new action-Reduce Your Ecological Footprint. Your ecological footprint is a way of measuring your demand on the planet’s ecosystems. In other words, it takes the amount of resources that are required to support your lifestyle and compares it to the total number of resources available on the planet. This allows you to determine how many planets’ worth of resources would be required if everyone lived like you do. Globally, humanity’s ecological footprint is about 1.5 Earths, which means that it takes the planet a year and a half to replenish the resources that we consume in a year. Meanwhile, if everyone on the planet lived like an average American, we would need the resources of 5 Earths to sustain our lifestyle! This is clearly an unsustainable path.
Just last month, we recognized Earth Overshoot Day-the day each year when humans exhaust nature’s annual ecological budget. For the rest of the year, we will be operating on an ecological deficit-consuming more resources than the planet can replenish. In 2013, Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 20th; in 1993, it was October 21; And in 2003, it fell on September 22. Humanity’s overconsumption problem is clearly getting worse. We need to act now, before it’s too late.
With this in mind, Earth Day Network is encouraging people to take our Ecological Footprint Quiz. The quiz is pretty simple. First you will answer a few questions about your lifestyle, where you live, what you like to eat, how often you drive, etc. It will then determine your ecological footprint, showing you how many Earths would be required to sustain humanity, assuming everyone lived the way you do. Finally, it will offer suggestions about how you can reduce your ecological footprint.
We encourage you to take those suggestions to heart. By making a few simple lifestyle changes, you can begin to live more sustainably and make a huge difference!