How green is my footprint?

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Jan• 31•08

EarthHave you ever wondered how many planets it would take to sustain all 6.6 billion humans on Earth at your rate of consumption? Yeah, me neither. But it’s an interesting question.

And to get the answer, American Public Media has created Consumer Consequences, an online "game" where you can calculate how sustainable your lifestyle really is. It’s called a game to make it sound fun, but sometimes seeing the reality of the situation isn’t all that fun. Oh, to be in denial!

However, getting that jolt that wakes me up to the consequences of my consumption could be fun if I decide to change or just fine-tune my behaviors.

At home, I’m keeping an eye on my energy usage, turning off lights when not needed, charging my laptop in the car when I’m driving (no one ever talks about that greenhouse gas saver!), not driving to the store each time I feel an urge. Unfortunately, my need to drive a car is not negotiable. There is virtually no public transportation where I live, and the so-called bike lanes are death traps. That’s my fault for wanting a rural lifestyle.

For food, there’s good news and bad news. I eat vegetarian, so don’t fatten any cows for me. But I do drink coffee, and the survey says that "after oil, coffee is the commodity most heavily traded, and highly traveled." Anyone grow local coffee?

My shopping habits are great! I barely know where the malls are. And our recycling bin gets more action than our trash bin.

Still, after playing this "game," I find out the sad news: 3.7 planets would be required to support all humans at my current lifestyle.

The main culprits in my score are my auto emissions and coffee consumption. I hear that the price of solar panels will drop sharply by 2010, and that’s also when electric cars will be coming back — let’s hope not to be killed off this time. So, shortly, my roof could power my car. And the coffee? I’ll work on it.

How did you score?

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3 Comments

  1. sheila says:

    congrats on your efforts, and remember – there is a LOT more to being a good global citizen than just carbon. i’ve ranted before about all the current avalanche of fake-green “renewable” power plants permanently destroying millions of acres of wilderness right here in California. carbon? low enough. total planetary destruction? incalculable!
    sooo, that roundabout path leads me to suggest that as long as you ONLY drink FAIR TRADE, ORGANIC coffee, you are offering a very healthy and sustainable opportunity to some folks who, unlike Americans, were not “born on third base” and who work hard to make an amazing product which is good for you!
    you can get it at trader joes, groundworks and sometimes the nicer groceries…

  2. Grace says:

    I got 2 planets. It might be a little bit less if I drank less coffee or flew less for work. But I got the big things right by living in an urban infill project close to work.

  3. Brent says:

    4.7 planets here due to transportation choices (last year I flew at least 24 hours) and food: wine and coffee seem to be environmentally expensive.

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