I recently watched "Radically Simple", a short documentary about a man Jim Merkel & his quest towards sustainable living.  Merkel teaches and exemplifies a simple lifestyle, one that will allow all Earth's billions of beings the space and resources to live
Ever seen the bumper sticker, "Live Simply So Others May Simply Live"?  That's his whole point. 

Merkel leads workshop participants through a painstakingly detailed assessment of their Ecological Footprints, an estimate of how many resources you use, versus how many we each can afford to use.

Essentially, your ecological footprint is how many pieces of chocolate mousse pie you're taking at the party.  Turns out, I'm a little glutton and I'm eating three pieces of pie... but there's only enough for everyone to have one!
But... I like pie.  And I want it.  I don't want to share my pie.

When I was six, I learned an important lesson:  When your mom asks you for some of the chocolate-filled koala-shaped cookies that she bought for you, you have to share them.  And then, I leaned an even more important lesson:  I didn't suffer at all from sharing my cookies.  The cookies I had left were just as good, and I didn't miss the cookies I gave to her.

Important life lessons, folks.

So, fast-forward to the grown-up version of this story: I want to learn to live simply and share my wealth, for the survival of the planet.  So I took an ecological footprint test.  And then I took another. 

The first one, at the FootPrintNetwork, says it takes 3.7 Earths to sustain my lifestyle.  A lot of this is from my energy bills, as I live in a large house with 7 other people.  But most of it is from my car... weirdly, though they didn't have an selection for riding your bike.
The second test I took, at MyFootPrint, was neat because it lets you see real-time adjustments to your score based on your choices.  For instance, I see that my footprint (in global acres) drops by 2/3 of an acre when I 'turn off computers when not in use'.
  • Being vegetarian drops your global footprint by 23 acres, compared to a moderate omnivore's footprint. 
  • Eating mostly local foods decreases your footprint by 16 acres.
  • Recycling almost all your paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic can lessen your footprint by 6 acres.
  • Using biodegradable/non-toxic cleaning products 'most of the time' lowers your footprint by 5 acres, compared to only 'sometimes'
This test said it takes 2.44 Earths to support my lifestyle.  I like that score a little better, but it's clear that I need to make some major changes.
According to the Center for a Sustainable Economy, there are only "15.71 global hectares [or 38.82 acres] available per person on a renewable basis."  So I'm overshooting by 56 global acres.  Sure, my ecological footprint is way less than average, and my total footprint matches the U.S. average carbon footprint, but that doesn't make me feel better.

This isn't about guilt, or being a martyr.  I can only do what I'm ready to do and what I'm inspired to do.  And I'm inspired to lower my footprint.
  1. Reduce my driving by over 50% - use my bike & the bus to get around.
  2. Eat even less meat than I already do (flexitarianism can have some fuzzy lines!)
  3. Eat only 1 egg per day.
  4. Set up a laundry drying line.

There's so much more I could do, and a lot I already do - but focus is key.  Let's get this done, folks.

What do you do to live simply?  Are you inspired to make any changes in your lifestyle?



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