There is only one Earth
Environmental impact and Global Footprint in our attempt of Degrowth
January is about to end and we are beginning to sum up our good intentions for the new year: but how do you realize what is really changing without an indicator of your path?
There is a website able to evaluate with a short questionnaire our ecological footprint, which is the consumption of natural resources taking into account the ability of the Earth toregenerate. The test proposed by the Global Footprint Network is composed of a series of questions that estimate how many “Earth planets” would serve to support humanity, if everyone lived according to a specific lifestyle; the analysis concerns the food, the dwelling in which one lives, the transport used, the consumer goods and the services.
I advise you to take the test that will help you realize how our lifestyle impacts irremediably on the resources of our planet: in most cases we are not sensitive enough or informed about the negativity of our ecological footprint and we tend to underestimate our habits, ignoring the consequences. When I took the test I was amazed: I thought I was already doing a lot for our planet and instead I found out that my lifestyle would have consumed every year a good Earth and a half! In Qatar they use on average 15.7 Earths, in the US 8.4 and we in Italy are at an average of 4.3: a real disaster. To give an idea of how quickly we consume the resources of our planet, the Earth Overshoot Day has been established, that is the day on which humanity completely consumes the resources produced by the Earth in the whole year: in 2018 it was August 1st, but unfortunately the estimate varies every year for the worse.
Needless to say, once this emergency is discovered, it is absolutely necessary to carry out a series of practical actions to improve one’s ecological footprint. In most cases, the suggestions to reduce the environmental impact correspond to the degrowth practices that we have already faced at the beginning of our path and which are summarized in the decalogue for the Degrowth.
To reduce CO2 emissions, we should walk or choose the bicycle for longer journeys; in case of bad weather or very difficult trips, we should use public transport or car sharing. For the holidays, we should avoid the plane and prefer bus and train. If we already own a car and can not do without it, we should make sure that it is always correctly maintained and that it consumes as little as possible.
In our home, it is important to install energy-saving lamps, choose high-efficiency appliances and never forget maintenance, by regularly defrosting the fridge and freezer. We should dry clothes outdoors when possible and do the washing machine only when fully loaded; we should keep heating at a mild temperature and we should decrease the use of air conditioning in the summer. Let us also remember to disconnect electronic devices when they are not in use.
It is a good idea to avoid throwing away objects that are still repairable or reusable, re-entering as much as possible in circular economy (we talked about how to improve the old objects using the upcycle, for an economic and energy saving here). Everything that has ended its life and can be differentiated must be recycled, only in this way it will be possible to reduce the emissions produced by the disposal of our waste.
Even what we eat contributes to our ecological footprint, so we should favor the local farmers’ shops and choose the biologic foods, possibly in bulk. Even better it would be to take care of a garden, to reduce energy and waste deriving from the transport and packaging of the products purchased. We talked about of how to reduce waste without much effort when we have lunch outside the house recently, while you find all our advice on the garden them in this category.
The ecological footprint of vegetarians and vegans is undeniably lower than that of omnivores, so it would be desirable to eliminate the consumption of meat and fish and that of animal derivatives. If you want to realize the difference between these two types of power supply in terms of pollution and consumption of resources, you can try to insert your own type menu here and observe the results.
Let’s not forget about water consumption: we should prefer the shower to the bath, we should close the tap while we brush our teeth, we should use the dishwasher at full load.
This year, try with me to put these simple tips into practice, not only to decrease happily, but also to make our small contribution to reducing the ecological footprint: at the end of the year we can try to repeat the test and check if indeed our new habits have contributed to the reduction of resource consumption.