If everyone on Earth lived precisely like you, how many Earths would it take to support that lifestyle? The answer might surprise you.
You can take some of the guesswork out of estimating your ecological impact by using the online environmental footprint calculator from the Global Footprint Network. This test is designed to help you think deeply about the unexpected ways you use nonrenewable resources each day, by diving into your lifestyle details, such as how frequently you carpool and whether your groceries come packaged in plastic. Many people find all the encouragement they need to start improving their sustainability habits when they see the stark reality of the impact their daily choices have on the environment. The test also defines an “Earth Overshoot Day,” or the date on which your lifestyle will have used up your fair share of global resources.
Taking ecological footprint tests and questioning aspects of your life that you might otherwise ignore will help you identify unexpected ways that your lifestyle harms the environment. Another useful meter of environmental impact is your water usage. A free Water Footprint Calculator is offered on the website of the GRACE Communications Foundation. The calculator uses information about your driving habits, eating routine, location, and other factors to measure the impact of your daily water use.
While seeing these statistics might feel daunting, facing facts about the way you live is the first step toward living more sustainably.