The Cowichan Valley Citizen featured an editorial recently about how privileged we are here in our little corner of the world to have the lifestyle we enjoy.
After all, most of us live in relatively comfortable apartments or homes, eat enough to avoid being hungry most of the time and can turn up the heat – or throw on a sweater or blanket – if we’re cold.
But that editorial also rightly pointed out that the lifestyle many of us live is also contributing to the death of the planet we live on.
“Most of us in Canada likely know that we are, for the most part, privileged with a high standard of living,” the piece reads. “Most also probably have some idea that we use a lot of resources in our day to day lives. But it’s easy to ignore that our lifestyles are not particularly sustainable.”
It had a link to footprintcalculator.com, an online resource created by the Global Footprint Network – an organization attempting to gather and disseminate hard scientific data on how the resources we use to live the way we do affect the ability of our planet to endure us long-term.
I took the test, knowing that while I try pretty hard to do my best by the planet, I also knew I was going to have some pretty significant strikes against me.
I drive a full-sized truck. I don’t take public transit very often (but to be fair, I have to have a vehicle with me at all times in order to do my job). In fact, I knew when I saw the first question that I was in trouble, as it asks how often you eat animal-based products. That question was followed by the percentage of food I eat that is grown within 320 km of my home.
I earned points, I’m pretty sure, when it came to how much I travel each week by car (or truck), how often I fly each year (basically never) and how much garbage my household generates compared to my neighbours (very little).
But, sure enough, the number that came up at the end of my survey said that if everyone on the planet lived like me, we would need 2.3 Earths to sustain us.
While that may sound bad – and it is – I took solace in the fact that we would need FIVE Earths if everyone lived like the Average American.
But should that give me solace? No. No it should not.
I’ve said lots of times, out loud, something along the lines of “just because it’s worse somewhere else, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying to make it better here.”
So what’s to be done?
Well, as the site itself says, there’s no actual way for anyone to get a score of less than “one Earth,” because while “the footprint associated with food, mobility and goods is easier for you to manage through lifestyle choices,” a person’s entire footprint is also tied to “societal” impacts like the creation of infrastructure like roads and other public services, so they encourage people to make changes by not only focusing on their own lifestyle, but also by “influencing our governments.”
So I would just like to give a quick shout-out to those of you in our community who do what they can to step up on behalf of what they believe by writing letters and making presentations to city council and other levels of government, volunteer to make a positive difference in our environment and do what you can to make the lower our collective impact on the planet.
With Earth Hour happening last weekend – and me realizing that fact the day after – I implore you all to make (or continue to make) whatever small differences you can wherever possible.
That means you, too, Davies.
On a totally unrelated note, will someone please remind me to put the reusable bags back in the truck so I don’t have to ask for a plastic one at the checkout this weekend when I go buy seeds for the garden?