Today is the 40th celebration of Earth Day. What started as an educational ‘teach-in’ in 1970 has turned into a global event dedicated to showing each of us how to do our part to protect the planet. Why should we want to protect the planet? Let’s start with the fact that Americans make up less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume 25% of the natural resources and generate 30% of the waste. Each one of us leaves a measurable footprint on the planet and it is determined by the demands we put on nature as it compares to the planet’s natural ability to meet those needs. It’s called your eco-footprint and it’s a concept that is widely being used around the globe to measure sustainability.

Your eco-footprint takes into account where you live, how many people live with you, the size of your home, the forms of energy used in your home, and energy saving measures in your home. The number of miles you travel, how you travel those miles, how you eat, what you eat and where you shop for food are all included in the calculation of your eco-footprint. Your eco-footprint also includes water saving devices in your home, the products used to build your home and the chemicals you use to clean it. And of course it includes the amount of trash you generate and how much you recycle. There are many other items that should be included in a measure of our ecological impact on Earth, but the eco-footprint calculator is a good start. You can measure your eco-footprint at www.footprintnetwork.org.

The typical American eco-footprint is enormous. Only citizens of the United Arab Emirates have a larger eco-footprint. Worse still, the needs of our global population exceed the ecological limits of our planet and it gets worse every year. We are taking from the planet faster than it can naturally renew or regenerate and are now tapping into the reserves at an alarming rate.

There is, however, good news. There is a great deal that each one of us can do to lighten our load on Earth and it doesn’t have to be painful or costly. It’s getting back to the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. When you use less energy, waste less water, create less trash and opt for non-toxic solutions—you’ll lower your eco-footprint. It really comes down to adopting everyday green living solutions. It may take a little effort to get started, but the rewards are immediate and impactful—providing savings in your bank account and a healthier future for our children. This year, attend an Earth Day event and learn how you too can do your part.

 

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