Everyone knows about climate change and global warming – how our actions on this planet are changing the atmosphere. These changes have effects such as increased severity and occurrence of extreme weather events, greater migration of diseases, and increased sea level. There is a lot of information out there about how gluttonous Americans are but what does that actually mean for individuals?
When I started learning about sustainability I found it very helpful to think about my own behaviors and actions, and what my “footprint” is on this planet. The EPA has a helpful calculator that determines an individual’s carbon footprint (link can be found here or on the Resources page). I found it really helpful to see exactly how many pounds of carbon dioxide emissions are tied to my existing behaviors and how I can reduce those emissions. After inputting my data and desired ways to reduce my emissions, this calculator breaks down that information in a way that makes sense with some very helpful visuals!
*Note* If you decide to go through this calculator I highly recommend having 12 months of utility bills handy.
After looking at my emissions, it’s easy to see that the majority comes from my Home Energy use. One step I took to help reduce these emissions was scheduling a home energy audit. I live in an older home that has very poor insulation so it was my assumption that a lot of energy is wasted in the winter months while trying to heat my house. I can imagine the heat escaping out of the roof and walls so I need to use extra energy to maintain a comfortable temperature. I will follow up about the energy audit in another post.
After seeing how I measured up to other Americans, I also wanted to see how my lifestyle compares to other countries. A quick Google search landed me on the Global Footprint Network’s website (here and also available on the Resources page). Their calculator asked similar questions to the EPA’s, but resulted in a different display of information. What I found the most shocking was their planet metric – how many planets would we need if everyone in the world lived like I do. (Spoiler alert – the answer is 4.3!). Clearly I have a lot of work to do!
Knowing my footprint is a HUGE motivator for me. We are a global community and what I do impacts a whole lot of other people. Seeing as we don’t have 3.3 planets to spare, I am determined to find ways to still have a great life, but in a way that doesn’t deplete so many resources!