In recent years, it’s become increasingly important to me to live ever more softly on the land. I’ve been consumed by big thoughts, deep, soul-searching questions about my place on this little blue dot we call Earth. I wonder how I can best make an impact on the life around me. What can I do that will create a positive impact? And can I leave this earth having made that net positive contribution to nature and life around me?
The things that are important to me are nature, wildlife, this fragile ecosystem. As a member of a species that currently seems to be inherently intent on securing its own destruction and taking everything else down with it, I want to step outside and join those calling for change, in a way that sits well with me. Pondering the what-ifs, the possibilities of whether we succeed or whether Earth carries on without humanity in the millennia to come. I want to add a contribution to those weighing scales on the side of soft footprints and birdsong.
I’ve spent so long saying these things and not taking action. Speaking but not following up. I can’t get angry about climate change without questioning my own actions. But I’m not one for shouting loudly at people that are deaf to our pleas. Instead I’ve been working out what it would take to quietly balance out the impact my life has, and tip it into the green.
The things I use: computers, phones, banks, car. The food I buy. The services I use – tv, utilities, music. The food I eat. The clothes I wear. The coffee I drink. The WWF has a nice simple carbon footprint calculator here as a start. Is it possible to take action to end up in the green, rather than the red? What can I contribute to the Earth as a human?
I want to write more about these as I learn more. I’m looking at the small things I can do in my immediate area too – I’ve planted a wildflower meadow area to provide for insects, butterflies, bees and more. We’ve created wildlife habitats in the garden with logs, ponds, flowers and trees. Looking at calculating our carbon footprint and taking steps to try and offset at least some of that – finding it’s more complicated that just planting some trees. Debate still rages around the best way to capture carbon, from reforestation to grassland carbon capture.
One of the best sites I’ve found for information on calculating the environmental impact of daily habits is Green Stars Project, especially their Daily Footprint series. But I’m also interested in ways of measuring positive impact beyond monetary value or carbon consumption. What is the price of kindness? What is the price of compassion? Should this be included in my definition of positive impact? I think I’d be driven mad if I tried to include everything, all forms of impact one individual can have. So I’ll start with beginning to walk the walk, to learn more about how my choices are impacting the environment – looking not to be sustainable, but to be regenerative.
Looking at online figures, an average citizen in the US needs to plant over 800 trees per year to offset their carbon footprint. 1 small car costs around 240 trees per year to run in the UK. Formidable Vegetable have got it right. Let’s plant some trees today!