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small steps for a smaller global footprint

Humans take up a lot of space in this world. From the food we eat to the waste we produce, the scary fact is that we're currently living outside our means.

What is a global footprint?

Your global footprint measures how much of the planet's natural resources your lifestyle requires. This can be measured on an individual, national, or global basis. One way of measuring your footprint is by asking yourself how many planets would be required if every person in the world used the same amount of resources as you.

What does this mean?

All species naturally use the Earth's resources, and the Earth copes by regenerating itself — to a certain point. Unfortunately, we're currently using resources faster than our planet can replenish them.

If we continue using natural resources we don't have, we'll eventually run out. From depleted groundwater to increased CO2 in our air, we'll all feel the effects.

How can you lower your carbon footprint?

The facts may be alarming, but something can be done! Living a greener lifestyle doesn't mean you have to give up modern comforts. If every person made just a few concessions, we could start to see a difference.

For example, the average car emits 5 tons of carbon dioxide a year. By carpooling with just one other person, you can cut your emissions in half!

Other small modifications to your driving routine can also make a difference.

  • Stop your engine
    Sitting idle for just 10 seconds uses more gas and produces more CO2 emissions than simply turning the engine off and then on again. And newer engines warm up by being driven rather than idling — even in cold weather.
  • Check your tire pressure
    Properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage enough to earn a free tank of gas every year!
  • Clean out your trunk
    The lighter your car, the better gas mileage it'll get.
  • Plan your shopping trips
    Cars burn more CO2 when they're not warmed up, so it pays to run all your errands at one time.

And what about at home? It doesn't take much to make a difference.

  • Buy locally grown produce
    The less your fruit and veggies have to travel, the less CO2 that goes into the air. Plus, local produce is often fresher and better tasting — and buying locally boosts the local economy.
  • Wash your laundry in cold water
    Several companies now make cold water detergents. You'll save money on your energy bills to boot!
  • Buy energy efficient appliances
    Next time you're in the market for a new refrigerator, washing machine, or dishwasher, look for the Energy Star logo.
  • Shave a few minutes off your shower
    Water-saving shower heads are also an inexpensive way to conserve.
  • Fill the dishwasher before running it
    Using the dishwasher can actually be more efficient than washing by hand, but only if you wait until it's full.
  • Use a broom
    Rather than hosing down your driveway, sweep leaves and trash away.

The office is another place where going green can go a long way. Find out what your company is doing to reduce their global footprint, and offer other simple suggestions, such as:

  • Ask the cleaning company to use eco-friendly products.
  • Have more plants around the office.
  • Convert to recycled paper.
  • Print on both sides of the paper and decrease your margin sizes.
  • Drink from reusable mugs and glasses rather than disposable ones.
  • Use a projector rather than printing your presentations.
  • Turn off your computer and monitor every night. During lunch breaks and meetings, turn off your monitor.

Until we find a way to inhabit other planets, we need to keep the one we have sustainable — for ourselves, our children, and all the generations to come.

For more green tips, check out our tips on befriending the environment.

What's your global footprint?

You can measure your own everyday CO2 use and get more solutions for reducing your carbon footprint by using EarthLab's Carbon Footprint Calculator. Once you get your score, you can develop your earth conservation plan, track your progress, and learn the skills needed to combat the climate crisis!