I read an interesting post on the Suburban Farm blog about Earth Day. Honestly, this year I hadn't given Earth Day a thought until I read that post. There was a link there to a website where you can calculate your Ecological Footprint(hosted by the Earth Day Network). I was mildly curious, so I took the quiz.
Well, it turns out that my ecological footprint is 22 (the average for the US is 24). If everyone lived as I do, it would take 5.1 planet Earths to support humanity. Yikes. Of course, this simple quiz doesn't take a lot of factors into consideration, like for example I am living in and renovating an 125 year old house, (which surely deserves some credits as it prevents it from being demolished), nor that I live in a very rural area (public transport is a school bus).
Still, there are those lifestyle decisions I feel badly about. For 5 or so years, I used to be able to walk to work. Then True Love led us to buy a house between Dan's and my jobs. Now my commute is 38 miles each way, ouch, and Dan's commute is slightly longer. At least it is only for 10 months a year, I drive a fuel efficient --38mpg hwy-- car (I love my Vibe!) and I carpool pretty regularly. But we love our home and the town we live in, and even if we relocated closer to one of our jobs, the one of us would still have a long commute --that is just one of the trials of Maine living.
We burn oil for heat -- there is not yet an alernative that is efficient, cost or otherwise -- for us. My solar home dreams are on hold for now.
On the plus side, we grow lots of our own food organically, we compost, recycle, avoid chemical cleaners/pesticides, don't by clothing that needs drycleaning, burn wood with an efficient clean-burning woodstove, don't buy plastic baggies, re-use as much as we can, etc. I'm sure there is more to be done. My next car, for example, might well be a car that will burn biodiesel (if only VWs were as reliable as Toyotas) or be smaller and more fuel efficient, now that Dan's son is grown and not traveling with us, or maybe I'll get a hybrid, depending on the way the technology advances.
It does give one something to ponder. What small changes can I make to reduce my impact?
Oh, and buy the way, on Earth Day, we built our chicken coop. Organically and locally produced eggs are in my future.