Friday, April 15, 2005
Calculate Your Ecological Footprint
If you would like to have your ecological footprint calculated, click here.
Interestingly, New York City living makes my footprint much smaller than were I to live on a small farm in the rural northeast United States. This latter situation is my ideal, and I have long assumed that the rural lifestyle – eating only local or organic fruits and vegetables, hunting the occasional white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and engaging in local conservation efforts - would reduce my negative environmental impact.
Not so. In fact, despite my now eating mostly non-organic, shipped vegetables – I eat Chinese or Mexican takeout too often to claim otherwise – my lifestyle here in New York City is relatively environmental friendly. This is a result of my walking or taking public transportation everywhere, but is also affected by my living in a large apartment building, and, most importantly, by the population of New York City itself.
If I were to transplant myself to the outskirts of a small New England town, my ecological footprint would balloon. In fact, even if I opted to live in a city such as Burlington, Vermont, one known for its eco-friendly attitude and policy, my footprint, while under the national average, would still be much larger than at present.
The average ecological footprint of a United States citizen is 24. My no car/vegetarian lifestyle here in NYC adds up to a score of just 9. The equivalent lifestyle (with the addition of a car) in a Burlington, Vermont, apartment building equals 22. Finally, the small farmhouse/studio somewhere in New England equals an astounding 39.
Being a subscriber to the no pain-no gain approach, I think I have to compromise. I imagine I will end up shelving the small farm idea, instead opting for an apartment in a New England city like Burlington, someplace with proximity to unsettled areas and numerous parks. I still believe private land ownership and conservation easements are of vital importance, so if my finances allow for it I would like to purchase a plot of land, roughly 30 acres, to manage for wildlife and leave undeveloped.