Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Our Ecological Footprint
Biology And Life
Ecological footprint is one method that can be used to measure how our individual lifestyle affects the planet including the people and animals living here. The lifestyle choices that each individual makes can affect the quality of our environment in a huge way. The more resources each individual consumes, the larger their ecological footprint thus leaving little for everyone else (Sustainable Communities Initiative, 2014). Each individual should strive for a smaller ecological footprint, which will make life better for everyone in the world. One’s ecological footprint is divided into four categories. These are food, travel, home, and stuff that they purchase. There are lifestyle changes in each category that a person can make to reduce their ecological footprint (WWF-Australia, 2014).
To reduce my ecological footprint, I choose to use tap water and run it through a filter to purify it in order to reduce waste that I generate. Each bottle of tap water that I purchase means I will dispose of one plastic bottle made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin. By reducing my PET waste, I will significantly reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted as a result of my activities since for each kilogram of PET that I save, I will save 40g of hydrocarbons, 25g of sulfur oxides, 20g of nitrogen oxides, 18g of carbon monoxide, and 2.3kg of carbon dioxide. Even though some may argue that PET bottles are recyclable, it is known for a fact that out of 9 in every 10 PET bottles sold in the U.S. each year end up in the trash cans.
When purchasing food items, I will bring my own bag to reduce use of plastic bags that are not biodegradable. They photo degrade meaning they breakdown into smaller bits that are toxic. Plastic bags that are discarded into water sources also cause thousands of marine animals to die. Therefore, using a reusable bag to carry purchased items from the supermarket or food store means I will greatly reduce my ecological footprint.
To reduce my ecological footprint, I will also change my eating habits to purchase local foods grown from local farms and to eat those that are in season. It is estimated that foods travel about 1,000 to 2,500 miles from pasture to the plate. Therefore, by sourcing foods locally, I will reduce my ecological footprint since I will reduce the distance that farmers have to travel to sell their foods by fostering local consumption. I also plan to eat more in locally owned cafes and restaurants whose business model is to support local farmers by sourcing from them rather than using larger chains that create a larger ecological footprint.
In my house, I will also reduce my ecological footprint by planting a small organic garden. An organic garden the size of a flowerbed stores carbon in the soil equivalent to getting 100 cars off the road. Therefore, if I can get 10,000 people to plant such organic gardens, we can store carbon in the soil equal to getting about 1,000,000 cars off the road. Though these numbers seem large for a small farm, the benefits come from various aspects. First is that as a result of growing my own food, I will reduce the trips I have to make to purchase food. Secondly, I will be able to make my own compost pile from leftovers and other waste in the garden to make the soil richer. Third, plants use carbon dioxide in the air thus reducing the amount in the air.
As part of my lifestyle changes to reduce my ecological footprint, I commit to walk, bike, or carpool whenever possible. On average, in the U.S., 40% of trips that people take can be replaced with walking, which is healthier by reducing the risk of obesity, and saves gas. Walking also reduces my ecological footprint by reducing carbon emissions by cars. If I am going a distance less than two miles, I choose to walk instead of driving. If the distance is over two miles but less than 10 miles, I choose to cycle my bicycle. Biking is also healthier since it constitutes exercise to the body. Since my town has plenty of bike lanes and pedestrian sidewalks, I choose to walk in order to reduce my ecological footprint.
I will also make sure my faucets are closed tightly to reduce my ecological footprint. A faucet dripping at a rate of one drop per second wastes four gallons of water per day. Therefore, I will make sure to conserve water by closing all faucets tightly. Where possible, I will strive on the installation of water-efficient fixtures to reduce water usage. Leaks that occur in my home will be fixed as soon as they are detected. This will also reduce my water usage considerably. I will strive to install low-flush toilets, faucet aerators, and showerheads in order to reduce water usage.
In the kitchen, I will reduce my ecological footprint by running the dishwasher only when it is full or there are no clean dishes to use. In most cases, I will strive to wash dishes by hand by filling the sink with water first then letting the water run continuously to reduce water usage. When brushing my teeth, I will turn off the faucet unless I need to use the water, I will also change my habits to use a cup to rinse after brushing my teeth to reduce water usage. I will also aim to take shorter showers and to use the toilets only for sanitary waste.
In my home, I will also try to do laundry manually at regular intervals to reduce water usage. When I have to use the laundry machine, I will do so only with a full load. I will also unplug appliances that are not in use or once I have finished using them. Appliances such as TVs, sound systems, and DVD players that consume power when on standby even if they are turned off.
Where possible, I will use energy saving products such as Energy Star product, which consume up to half as much energy as other similar products
Stuff that I purchase
One major way for me to reduce my ecological footprint is to buy local products and services. This means I will source products and services starting at the local, community or neighborhood level where I will check out garage sales or car boot sales being run by neighbors, and small consignment shops within our neighborhood for items such as clothing, furniture, appliances, or other items that I need. Should these stores or sales not fit my needs, I will source to locally owned businesses in my area in order to promote these businesses and create an incremental on economic activities within my locality.
I will also donate items locally. Electronics that I do not need and items such as clothing, chargers, cell phones, furniture, clothing, cleaning supplies, and many more will be donated to our local school or local charity agencies in order to keep these products within the area and foster local economic growth.
I will also invest in purchasing products that are durable and reusable. By making sure the products I purchase are durable and reusable such as bottles, towels, kitchen items such as pots and pans, and mops, I will make sure the amount of waste I produce is decreased considerably. Instead of buying items based on their price, I choose to purchase based on quality and durability of the item.
http://www.brighterfuturestogether.co.uk/brighter-futures-together-toolkit/calculate-the-ecological-footprint-of-your-community/Sustainable Communities Initiative. (2014). Calculate the ecological footprint of your community. Retrieved June 3rd, 2014, from WWF-Australia. (2014). Sustainable living to reduce your personal footprint. Retrieved June 3rd, 2014, from http://www.wwf.org.au/what_you_can_do/change_the_way_you_live/sustainable_living/
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