Sustainability is about noticing how much unnecessary stuff we consume and reducing it where we can

Karen Madej

In a recent article, so many folks’ wrote negative comments about the title: The U.S. consumes the equivalent of five planets; for one U.S. resident, that’s about 17 U.S. football fields, caused me to wonder what made them so angry.

Here are some of the comments.

Name-calling: “whoever wrote this article has the brain capacity of a walnut.”

“What kind of measurement is a planet and how do you calculate that, since we have yet to find another planet that supports life. Is this a glaring typo or just more libtarded propaganda.”

Blaming: “that’s because every country has their hands in the United States pocketbook, and thieves steal our technology to better themselves. So yes, if we didn’t keep giving away our resources we would not be in such debt. Oh, and as far cholesterol your body produces it on its own, and some have genetic factors involved. So get off of your soapbox because karma may catch up with you.”

Boasting: “I consume 100 planets worth, easily.” or “GREAT….. Somebody got to do all this consuming….I guess it just falls to the good Ole USA…….We earned it…….”

My favorite comments miss the point altogether:

“An ludicrous comparison since Earth is the only known inhabited planet in the Universe”
“But, somehow, we’re doing it with only ONE planet. Hmmm.”
“We all take from the environment, wheather you want to admit that or not, most of you enviro crackpots don’t even realize that everything you use comes from the planet in one form or another, but you think you are a Saint for mother earth, you are not.”

In answer to this question: “What are YOU doing other than writing trash articles?”

I don’t drive anywhere. Almost everything I own is secondhand; I mostly eat local organic food. But yes, I’ll buy some New Zealand lamb or locally raised buffalo beef a few times a month because I like it. I stopped eating dairy and battery chicken eggs.

We don't have to give up everything immediately!

It’s not about giving up everything right now. That would be impossible. It’s about just noticing how much we consume and reducing it. It took me ten years! I save so much money and work fewer hours. Oh, and I’ve also reduced the damage I do to the planet.

The jokers:

“sorry but i need these 22 inch rims on my Oldsmobile and shiny Air Jordans are a crutch for my identity”

“wheres the evidence that other planets eat?”

I suspect many commenters only read the headline. Sadly, they make fun of a problem they don’t want to understand or learn about. Fortunately, a few people received the message loud and clear:

“No. We understand how it works. Those of us not engulfed in the gluttonous consumerism, make every effort to leave a small carbon footprint. I’ve been committed to it since 1972, while working with the Environmental Protection Agency.”

The facts

An international think tank, Global Footprint Network, works to encourage humans to live more sustainably.

The Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we use, how much we have and who uses what. By developing transparent, scientifically robust measures to help decision-makers monitor and protect ecological assets, Global Footprint Network is committed to fostering a world where all people can live well within the means of one planet.

Nicole Achs Freeling, Communications Manager for Global Footprint Network, writes that “ecological overshoot occurs when a population demands resources and produces waste (such as CO2 emissions) faster than the earth can renew these resources and absorb the waste. Humanity has been in overshoot since the 1980s. Its pressure on resources today now exceeds what the planet can renewably provide by 31 percent.”

Below is my Ecological Footprint. What's yours?
Screenshot by Author

Global Footprint Network asks us to measure what we treasure.

Humans use as much ecological resources as if we lived on 1.7 Earths. The Ecological Footprint is the only metric that compares the resource demand of individuals, governments, and businesses against Earth's capacity for biological regeneration.

All names for the quotes are in the comments section of The U.S. consumes the equivalent of five planets; for one U.S. resident, that’s about 17 U.S. football fields.

Sustainability means thinking about the stuff you want to buy or use and deciding whether you really need it. What does it mean to you?

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.


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