How Much of an Impact Am I Really Making?

With all the information given to us by the media these days, it can be overwhelming to try to understand how much impact we have on the world. Worse, a lot of the information is contradictory. Let’s look at a few easy ways to sift through the mountain of data to find out what really matters.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/04/water/water-animation

If you want to see how much water your country wastes and the effects this has, look at these handy infographics (now with supporting apps!):

http://threeninetyeight.com/2010/04/29/water-infographics/

If you want to learn how to easily reduce your own water wastage, you can try the ways suggested here:

http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/trans0309walkthisway.html

4. What Else is There?

Apart from the most immediate worries, CO2 and water, we are steadily using up resources faster than we are replacing them. Indium, a rare element, is used in LCD TV screens, but as these screens are not usually recycled, we are slowly running out of indium. It is estimated that it will run out almost completely in less than 20 years. There are loads of other substances which we use but do not replace, and you can see them in this handy and simple infographic:

http://www.infographicsblog.com/how-long-will-it-last-armin-reller-tom-graedel/

If you would like to reduce your impact, there is a very simple way: recycle. Recycle everything you can, and buy recycled goods. Reuse plastic packaging for other purposes around the house, compose food scraps, and very importantly, buy recycled toilet paper. Believe it or not, non-recycled toilet paper is having one of the biggest impacts in deforestation on Earth. Buy recycled toilet paper to stop forests being cut down and to preserve the animal ecosystems that live there.

5. Going Organic

A lot of places will tell you that using organic products reduces your impact. This, unfortunately, is not true. “Organic” has no fixed meaning in products, and there are no regulations about which products can say they are organic or green. McDonalds or Coca Cola could put “Now Organic” on their packaging without changing anything they do and still be quite within the law. Sadly, the majority of organic products are not any better for the environment. Worse, many use unregulated fertilisers, which may be from natural sources, but they can have a much worse effect on the environment than some of the regulated ones. The best things you can do is to buy as much local produce as you are able to. One of the biggest impacts of the products we buy is not how they were grown but how they were transported. Buying an “organic” wooden Christmas tree flown down from Canada each year does a lot more damage due to the fuel used than buying a locally made artificial one. Reduce the distance your goods are transported by buying locally.

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