Let’s Talk About The Earth
One of the best definitions I’ve ever heard for Environmental Sustainability is:
The idea of living in the world in such a way that seven generations from now our ancestors can live in their world in the same way.
This may seem a bit short but it incorporates:
-using our resources properly
-understanding how humans have affected the earth in the past
-understanding our Ecological Footprint: Exactly how much arable land we are using up as individuals each year to grow/produce our food, produce and contain our oxygen and carbon dioxide supplies, and hold both our organic and unnatural wastes or to put it more simply how much space you’re taking up on this somewhat fragile planet, a great place to test this is at http://www.earthday.net/footprint/index.asp When I first took this test it told me that I was using 13 acres every year and if everyone on the planet lived the way I did, we would need 2.8 earths to handle it all. But it is possible to lower your ecological footprint. When I took the test again today, I found out that had reduced my yearly acreage to 10 acres a year, but we would still need 2.2 earths if you all lived like me! I am still working to cut down my meat consumption from a few times a week to only occasionally and find other ways to get to and from my school in the south to my home in the Pacific Northwest without flying so much. It takes time and effort, but it is possible to live as a member of the global community without taking more resources or arable land than you should.
-understanding how humans are currently affecting the earth (both negatively and postively)
-understanding how humans need to live in the future so as to preserve the world for at least seven generations to come
-understanding the differences between needs and wants and responsibility and possibility
Take your Ecological Footprint and drop me a comment if you’re willing to share your acreage! There are easy ways to reduce your use of the earth in order to ensure ecological sustainability such as:
1. Walk more
2. Buy groceries from local farmers’ markets (most of our food travels 1,300 miles to reach us and reducing this distance saves energy, reduces pollution and assures freshness without preservatives)
3. Eat less meat (meat production takes up more space than other food production and there are many other sources of protein)
4. Save energy by using fluorescent bulbs, buying energy efficient appliances, washing clothes in cold water and allowing clothes to air dry
5. When you run to the store, give a friend a call and see if they want to come with you thus saving you both from making separate trips in nearly empty cars
This idea of environmental sustainability reminds me of the War Rations all American citizens had to observe during World War II. They ate responsibly so that they could continue feeding both those fighting in the military and themselves for the long-term.
If we imagine that we are preserving citizens and those fighting for our next generations and live responsibly NOW we are practicing environmental sustainability.