By Larraine Roulston:
The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. Conspicuous consumption, waste and the accumulation of material possessions place unnecessary pressures on natural resources and the environment. If we all consumed less, our footprint would be greatly reduced. Together, we can all be a powerful force to change the path of climate change by demanding green products, reducing fossil fuels, and by placing our investment money in green products and technology.
For over 20 years, articles have been written about the ecological footprint and how to build eco cities; however, when left in the hands of our present politicians, little appears to happen. One of today’s biggest concerns centers on the greenhouse gas emissions created by Alberta’s Tar Sands; its production, at least, needs to be slowed down. Sadly, under Canada’s current government, reduction is unlikely. Awareness of big issues and individual steps to become sustainable, however, will make a difference.
Cars and trucks pollute, with the average vehicle contributing at least 2 metric tons of carbon each year. Resolve to drive less and either walk, bike or use public transit. Cars do not require lengthy warm up times, so avoid this. Slow down to reduce emissions as well as fuel consumption. Avoid both idling and using the auto’s air conditioning.
Organics in a landfill cause greenhouse gases. Composting alone will not solve climate change, but it will buy time. By composting, you will reduce what is sent to the landfill by 30%.
- Strive for water efficiency by installing water-saving shower heads and taking shorter showers. Use water sparingly while brushing teeth. To wash cars, choose buckets of water rather than a hose. Rain barrels also play a major role in water conservation.
- Go Green if building or renovating. Insulate well. Shingle your home with a light color to reflect the sun’s rays. Investigate straw bale homes.
- Raising livestock for food has a huge detrimental effect on air and water. Try more veggie dishes, and choose organic produce to reduce pesticide use. Grow your own vegetables and support in season, locally grown food.
- Be energy efficient. Turn lights off when not in use and turn the thermostat down at night. Hang laundry outside or on a drying rack. Visit Project Laundry.
- Plant trees as well as flowers, and milkweed for the bees and butterflies
- If you do not join a crusade to tackle the ocean’s pollution, help by picking up litter along a beach before it is swept into the sea. And separate the recyclables. There is no such thing as garbage, just misplaced resources. Cleaning up every “litter” bit in parks, around rivers and on city streets helps.
We depend on nature to provide a steady supply of life’s basic requirements. The latest scientific report on climate change is grim, but it takes a period of darkness for our brightest stars to emerge. This is the powerful environmental movement of grassroots activities and individuals. This decade will be challenging; the stakes are high and political will is lacking. Vote for “Green” choices. Take on at least one environmental cause. We each have ability, power of purchase, and a voice.
Larraine authors the Pee Wee at Castle Compost series that are fun and factual. Visitwww.castlecompost.com