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If you want to make a positive change this Earth Day but don't know where to start, one of best things you can do is take an honest look at your environmental footprint. For instance, how much water are you wasting? How much plastic are you throwing out? How much planet-warming carbon are you producing?
Luckily, there are many online calculators that crunch through your consumption habits. While the final tally might be daunting, it's the first step in living more sustainably.
Check out this one from the Global Footprint Network. You answer a handful questions such as "How often do you eat animal-based products?" and "Compared to your neighbors, how much trash do you generate?" on sliding scales.
At the end of the survey, it shows your personal Earth Overshoot Day (the exact day you've used more resources from nature than Earth can regenerate in one year) and how many planets we'll need if everybody lived like you.
Here are my results. I try to live lightly as I can, but I'll admit this picture is not pretty.
When I explored the details of the report, it shows that I have an Ecological Footprint of 3.2 global hectares (gha), which is the amount of land required to sustain my use of natural resources.
"Mobility" represented the biggest chunk of my consumption habits, likely because my city has zero public transportation options and I fly a lot.
One's ecological impact can vary by location. According to the Global Footprint Network, the Ecological Footprint for the average American is 8.6 gha, more than double Brazil's average of 3.1 gha and Mexico's average of 2.6 gha.
The results also showed that my carbon footprint is about 6.1 metric tons per year, which is much less than 16.4 metric tons of CO2 generated by the average American, but it still bears improvement.
Last year, a widely circulated study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, determined four actions that can substantially slash an individual's carbon footprint: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living car-free and having smaller families.
Consumption calculators like these are not an exact science, but they do give a pretty good picture—and provide suggestions—on how you can make improvements. So for me, maybe I'll take one less flight this year. Perhaps I'll carpool more often. I'll even dust off the ol' bike!
Other consumption calculators dive deeper into specific categories. This personal greenhouse gas calculator from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comes in the form of an extensively detailed Excel sheet. It considers things like your fuel consumption and even your recycling habits.
GRACE's Water Footprint Calculator helps you estimate your daily water use. It not only counts the water from your tap, it also reviews the water it takes to produce the food and products you buy.
And because this year's Earth Day is focused on the theme of reducing plastic waste, Greenpeace UK has a great plastic calculator to see how much of this ubiquitous, biodegradable material you consume.
I also really like this simple, user-friendly plastic calculator from Plastic Lite Singapore. For instance, the site counts how many plastic bags, drink bottles, disposable utensils and other plastic products you go through in a timeframe of your choosing.
Here are some of my results below. It's very clear that I should do something about all those bread bags. I already save up my empty toothpaste tubes (with the intention of sending them off to TerraCycle) but this quiz is likely going to cement my switch to more sustainable products, such as bamboo toothbrushes and refillable laundry soap.
Calculating your environmental footprint can be overwhelming, but we should all do our part to help make Earth Day 2018 count.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.