Will There Be Nature For Our Kids?
By Valerie Fieldwebster
Somewhere in our childhood, each of us has had a close encounter with nature. Some of us may have had great forests in our backyards, where we were allowed to roam for hours unhampered by an adult agenda. For others it may have been a creek running through a city.
Most of us, I dare say, have confessions to make. Nature may not have always fared well in our childhood hands. As a young child I loved Monarch caterpillars. I learned that the best way to catch them was to lie on my back in a patch of Milkweed, and I collected the sleek looking larva by the dozens. I kept them in a box and fed them all kinds of leaves; every kind except Milkweed.
Psychologists are now placing more and more importance on the time children are allowed to spend outside exploring nature. These experiences have connected us to the natural world around us, making us more aware of the systems.
The idea that, because of my consumption patterns, future generation may not have the opportunity to lie on their backs in a field of Milkweed plants disturbs me. I wondered if I was being irresponsible with the earth’s resources, so I decided to check my ‘Ecological Footprint’.
I highly recommend this activity. I went to 4 different website which provided ‘Ecological Footprint’ calculators. Each website asks a variety of questions about your eating patterns, transportation, if you ever purchase used items and how often you fly. At the end up pops your final score. How many earths would it take if everyone lived as gluttonously as I did?
Different calculators will give you different results, so try a few different ones to get a general idea of how sustainable your lifestyle is. I found out that if everyone consumed resources as I did we would need somewhere between 1.6 and 5.5 earths to support us.
What I found very valuable was that each website also gave me ideas on how I can live more within the earth’s resources. My vegetarian diet gave a small food footprint, but commuting to work made me look like a Sasquatch! Here a few websites for you to try:
- http://calc.zerofootprint.net/youth/ (for the kids)
So what were some of the suggestion I found, other than changing to CFL light bulbs?
- Line drying clothes saves 3 to 4 kilowatt hours per load – about 5 pounds of carbon dioxide.
- By installing water saving devices, households can reduce their water footprint by 60%.
- Recycling one metric ton of paper saves 17 trees.
- Repair things as much as possible and only buy products that are designed to last.
None of these individual actions are difficult to implement, but collectively they can add up to a more sustainable lifestyle.