At the rate I’m consuming, I’m using up 3–9 planets, according to the carbon footprint calculator at Earth Day Network.
This was surprising to me because over the last 14 years, I have reduced my energy and consumer habits dramatically.
· I drive about 15% of what I did in 2010 (when the BP Oil Spill erupted), and “fill up” about once a month. Most Americans are using 1.6 gallons of gasoline per day; mine equates to a little over ½ gallon/day (source: @EIAgov).
· I have driven the same car for the last 16 years ensuring there is one less car in the landfills
· I purchase food from local farmer’s markets, mostly organic — limiting the gasoline and pollution from trucking food from far away. This is more nutritious, too.
· I shop with reusable canvas or paper bags
· I walk or ride a bike for most of my errands
· I telecommute for work
· I opt for natural lighting, adjusting my work space throughout the day to avoid turning on lights. When I do turn on the lights the mantra is, “On when I enter and off when I leave”
· I use LED lighting instead of CFLs or incandescent lighting
· I find ways (opening and closing doors, windows and blinds) to keep my heating and cooling needs to a minimum
· I buy well-made, classically designed clothes that I can reuse and often adopt a “uniform” approach to daily ware to reduce the amount of clothing that I purchase
· I avoid plastic and opt for recycled plastic and paper as much as possible
· When I travel I use public transportation
· I gift heartfelt personal items as much as possible
· I use a reusable stainless steel water bottle and reusable coffee containers
· I’ve adopted “cleansing reduction” — opting for strategic cleansing rather than daily showers (better for my skin, too!)
And still I’m using up at least three planets worth of resources — more than Earth can offer.
So, what gives? The developed world is simply unsustainable. Like it or not, our fuel and electricity is still sourced largely from fossil fuels. According to the Energy Information Administration (@EIAgov), in 2015, about 4 trillion kilowatts of electricity was produced, with 67% coming from coal, natural gas and petroleum.
Read more of my sustainability and financial wisdom blogs on HuffingtonPost and Medium.
Natalie Pace is the co-creator of the Earth Gratitude Project and the author of The ABCs of Money, The ABCs of Money for College, The Gratitude Game and Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is. She blogs on Huffington Post and Medium, and is a frequent guest contributor to national news shows and magazines. She has been ranked the No. 1 stock picker, above over 830 A-list pundits, by an independent tracking agency, and has been saving homes and nest eggs since 1999.