My ecoprint report card: could do better


I know a large part of my ecoprint above comes because I eat meat, I drive a car, and I have electricity (one car, and efficient/green electricity, but still). I’ve done reasonably well on the areas outside those parameters, although I still need to use less processed/packaged foods, and my footprint would go way down if I ate meat less often. I’m not about to give up my computer though.

The thread on women changing/keeping surnames talks about where we draw our own personal conformist/nonconformist lines with respect to the battles against societal expectations that we choose to fight or not fight, as few of us have the energy and commitment to be as pure in every regard as we might like in our most idealistic moments. It certainly is easier to conform with our consumerist society, not just because others look askance at the hippie treehuggers, but because it takes more time and effort to use goods and services that reduce your ecological footprint, and they often cost more than the less sustainable options as well. (Lauredhel has also pointed out previously (wish I could find the post) that the extra time and effort to live green tends to fall disproportionately upon women in a partnership/family, so there’s a feminist slant to this argument as well.)

Our next car is going to be smaller and greener. I’ve fallen into lazy habits with processed/packaged food recently, which tends to be part of my Seasonal Affective Disorder, so I need to push myself more there as Spring draws me out of that anyway. More meals without meat, and less meat bulk in the meals which include it.

I dream of a Green-designed house, but that’s not financially on the cards for us for quite a few years. Encouraging housing built with an eye to ecological footprint reduction is an area distinctly lacking in Australian public policy, particularly the housing approval authorities’ prejudice against earth-covered homes even (especially?) in high bushfire danger areas.

We all know what we can do privately, and make our choices there depending on what else we can afford to sacrifice to take the green option over the wasteful one. But what more can we encourage in public policy?

Categories: culture wars, environment, gender & feminism, Life

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5 replies

  1. “I know a large part of my ecoprint above comes because I eat meat”
    The problem with these ecoprint calculators, largely made in the US, is that they don’t take into account the different ways meat is produced – they’re founded on the premise that meat (as it largely is in the US, but largely *isn’t* in Australia) is grain-fed, and that the grains have been grown using large amounts of petrochemicals etc, and the cows have then (relatively inefficiently) turned grain into meat. In Australia, 96% of our meat is grass fed – mostly on land that couldn’t be used to grow crops anyway.
    There’s a BIG difference between eating grass-fed meat (particularly if you take steps to ensure it’s locally produced and hasn’t been transported too far) and eating feedlot meat. BIG.

  2. For starters I’d like to see a public policy push to improve the greenness of rental properties. My house, for example, has an ancient, inefficient electric hot water service. It wastes enormous amounts of water, and (green) electricity. I bear the expense and the landlord is the one who has the power to change it.
    Which reminds me, I must harrange the property manager about the brick fence that is about to fall down onto our backyard.

  3. The car use question has 15-50km or 0km, but not 0-15km, which is more like me, so I can’t get a realistic picture.
    I do eat a bit of packaged food, but I try to balance that with very locally grown/produced stuff the rest of the week.

  4. Kate – I noticed the same thing about the km question.
    Even though I have gone from 1 person to 2 living in a small house (between us there had been 2 houses=4 bedrooms, we now live in the most central and smallest footprint one together) my overall footprint went up. Then I looked at all my flying kms and realised this is my energy sucker. Bugger the fact I walk, tram and shop locally. Drive or am driven very little. Eat mostly organic, vego food, mostlu cook from scratch, am the heat/cooling nazi at home (sometimes I have to hide the devise to turn the unit on!)…the trips for family or pleasure on the planes are the things that I don’t know how to reduce. Apart from ignoring my elderly dying family in another country – how do I change that energy sucker?

  5. Now there’s a big question, AOF. I guess once rising fuel expenses make air travel utterly exorbitant and only for the super-rich (like it used to be in the early aviation days) that problem will solve itself, but yes, how can you just ignore your family in the meantime?

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