Archive for Ecological Footprint

Finding the Right Size

-written for ecomii blogs: http://www.ecomii.com

The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2040.

That’s a lot of people to sustain.

Population growth tends to be a taboo and contentious issue within climate change discourse.  However, what holds true is that we as a global population, need to be creative and also realistic about how to support our growing species.

In North America, our cultural relation to space and the need for much of it has lead to a commonly held lifestyle that does not correlate to what the Earth’s resources can support.

In the city I live in, situated in the foothills of Western Canada, our geographical footprint is said to match or exceed that of New York City, and our population is just over one million; less than one-eighth the population of New York.

Yet, the building continues. Much of it to house single families living in near or certifiable mansions.

Recently I’ve come across the concept of “rightsizing” life, an idea that seems to offer a more realistic way to exist in our spaces. Right-sizing is a step beyond down-sizing, an evaluation process of understanding better the amount of space needed to live and simplifying life in the process.

It an acknowledgment that we have different spacial and material needs according to the stages of life. Right-sizing can extend to the home, vehicle, and luxury accessories like boats, RVs, or vacation homes.

It wouldn’t make sense to wear rubber boots year-round, and yet many people drive SUVs to see them through one season of the year.

Two-person families live in four-bedroom homes to be prepared for the two weeks of the year house guests are visiting. Entire homes sit vacant and unused, for the one month of the year its owners visit for vacation.

A great way to start the right-sizing process is to list properties and the big stuff you own and chart how often and effectively these things are being used. Monitor your use of space in your home for a week. Do you have a room, or several rooms that you barely enter?

Can you eliminate unused furniture or accumulated “stuff”?

Start by de-cluttering the home to better suit your stuff to your space rather than your space to your stuff. From there, you just might find it’s time to move that de-materialized life to a space that is your right size.

Leave a comment »

Be The Bus

–written for ecomii blogs : http://www.ecomii.com

With rising gas prices, carbon-guilt and the knowledge that alternative transportation is the more sustainable approach to getting from here to there, many of us are looking for ways to do so in a viable way.  When it is just one body to move around, a bike, bus or light-rail train are usually convenient and workable. A whole other experience is alternatively transporting kids and the accompanying backpacks, snackpacks, toys, diaper bags, strollers and the rest of the provisions. Getting all of this in a self-contained vehicle is often trying enough, let alone taking it all to a public space like a bus.

Recently I’ve come across a concept that at least takes care of the kid’s school commute, provided you live within walking distance. The “walking school bus” gets together a regular group of kids and adults living along the same the route to the school and simulating a bus: a “driver”, a route with scheduled stops, and “riders”.

Pretty simple, yet it has explosive results. With statistics revealing that the average North American spends ninety percent of their time indoors, regular walking is a great way to ensure you and the kids get outside and are consistently active. It also solves any safety concerns around letting your kids walk themselves to school. Plan for two adults to be part of each bus and get to know your neighbors and fellow parents better. The walking school bus is a fantastic way to build a sense of community both within the school population and the neighborhood.

Check out The Walking School Bus for more resources on establishing a route, enlisting adult walkers, and basic safety principles. Getting started could be as easy as putting out some feelers with parents you already know and committing to walking the route, seeing who you pick up along the way!

Leave a comment »