My Footprint

My Footprint

Here is some background. I am a semi-new empty-nester who lives in a high-rise condominium, does not eat meat, and drives a hybrid vehicle (and loves hyphens). Most of what I wear is consignment and therefore down-cycled. My largest contribution to planetary trespass was having two children who ate a lot of meat while growing up. They are now in California and New York City, eating much less meat! Additionally, I have a partner who sometimes lives with me, and is on the long road ahead to environmental stewardship.  My ecological footprint is a 2.7 according to the Ecological Footprint Calculator . What’s yours?  It would take 2.7 earth’s[1] to sustain if everybody lived like me. What’s yours? 

What I Eat!

I follow a vegetarian diet including eggs, dairy, and occasional seafood. The diet is primarily vegetable, fruit, and nut based with as much raw food as possible. I choose foods that are lowest on the food chain, and eat higher on the food chain to prevent food waste. So, I will consume meat, if it prevents waste of an animal life. I choose organic when possible, shop at a local hydroponic farm during season for vegetables, consider food miles and seasonality, while intentionally purchasing products from manufacturers I approve of.  I SACRIFICE often. I refer to the food recovery hierarchy and attempt to reduce food waste at the source, by not over purchasing. I put as much organic waste into the garbage disposal as I can to divert from landfill, and I bring leftovers to share at work. Biggest need for improvement is composting. I live in a condominium where there is no composting and the HOA has rejected my attempts to bring in experts for advisement, even though they spend thousands of dollars on mulch and fertilizer.

 I Save Energy!

My condo only has LED lighting, I have installed a higher efficiency HVAC, energy-star appliances, and keep the air conditioning set at 81 degrees for over half the day and 79 degrees for the other half. The condo is in the middle of the building which keeps the temperature quite consistent throughout the year. The building I live in uses LED lights and has also recently installed a newer more efficient HVAC unit and geothermal heating for the pools and jacuzzis. I installed solar shades to help keep the unit cool during the day. I also turn off lights, fans, and television when not in the room.  For the last 10 years I have driven a Prius saving over 1,850 gallons of fuel in that time period (and its vegan). My boys carpooled to school helping further reduce consumption. The biggest loss of energy in this unit comes from the 27 year old glass in the windows and doors. 

What About Water?

Water is a resource I am keenly aware of, as I grew up in a hot arid country with water restrictions. I am not American by birth and my family consumes water differently than most Americans.  I will use the same towel for a week or more until it smells. I will wear clothing until it needs to be washed, and you would be surprised that some items do not really need to be washed very often. I shower every other day.  I do not wash dishes by hand, I load the dishwasher and only run it when it is full. I do not wash small loads of laundry, and my rule is one load per week for me. I have low flow toilets. I boil water that has been standing out. I will boil eggs, potatoes, and pasta with the same water. This takes planning and mindfulness. I can always improve by recapturing more grey water, and installing low flow faucets in the sinks and bathtubs. But, as I love to say, “Rome was not built in a day!”

[1] My description of present consumption is not fully accurate.  I do many more things that help mitigate my ecological footprint and decrease consumption including keeping a healthy weight!