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How Many Planets Do YOUR Choices Require

There are a handful of carbon footprint calculators out there, some of which I’ve written about. But there’s also a game that I think is a bit friendlier than the others, based on one of the calculators (the Ecological Footprint Quiz). It’s called Consumer Consequences, and while you’re playing it tells you how your lifestyle choices affect the planet. At the end, after you’ve answered questions, it tells you how many Planet Earths we’d need if everyone made the choices you’ve made. The factors you examine are:

  • where you live (suburban, for me)
  • your home (including its size, which is where I got hammered)
  • the trash and recyclables you generate (I’m stylin’ here, with fewer than 2 bags/week and our recyclables have decreased since Emily has finally agreed eat raw food so we’re out of the canned food business)
  • your transportation habits (again, good here as I can go days without driving, and when I do drive, I travel only a handful of miles and the Element is good on gas)
  • your shopping habits (mine are close to nil. I buy something when I need it, and then I go for quality so I don’t have to replace it again quickly.)
  • your eating habits (which measures the demand your choices place on cropland, pastures and fisheries . . . plus fossil fuel use). I got a bit dinged here for my wine consumption, which I’ve recently decreased as I’ve been having trouble sleeping (staying asleep, that is) for the first time in my life (and cutting out the wine has eliminated the problem). The only issue I have with this part is that local and organic are lumped together: "How much of your food is locally grown or organic?" And we all know there’s a huge difference in the effects on cropland and in fossil fuel use there. Most of my food is organic, but not all of it is local.

Even with my relatively responsible choices, we’d still need over three Planet Earths (3.2) if everyone made the choices I make.

Imagine what would happen if I were a vegetarian rather than a vegan, drove an SUV, flew more than once or twice a year, drank a cup of coffee and a glass of wine daily, commuted 15 miles one way daily and ate out 25-50% of the time, like some people I know (wink wink, nudge nudge)?

I’ll tell you what would happen. It would take 8.3 Planet Earths to sustain all the people on the planet if everyone lived like me. 8.3 Planet Earths. And that’s without Hummer-drivin’, meat-eatin’ and suburban shopping mall-goin’.

How many Planet Earths would YOU require?

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. 1.6, including my approx. 3 cups of coffee per week, on average. I got dinged pretty hard on food. Could be the coffee, the frequency with which I eat out (sometimes a lot, sometimes hardly at all), and it could be that I don't eat 100% organic/local, though I always buy organic at the store when it's available, and I try to make that local, too. Anyway, 1.6 is nothing to sneeze at.

    January 31, 2008
  2. Becci #

    1 planet exactly, or 1.7 global hectares! Woo!

    I need to get more of my food from local sources, though. And less packaged stuff for sure.

    February 5, 2008
  3. Becci #

    I lied–1 earth was for the Global Footprint quiz. The second one gave me a score of 1.9 earths. Fun and interesting. Thanks for posting it.

    February 5, 2008

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