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How Big Are Your Sneakers?
Have you ever wondered what is the largest size of shoe on Earth? According to "29 Poster Series," it's Size 29. Imagine what size of footprint the person who owns that foot would leave!
Now let's put that foot in the context of the Millennium Development Goals and in particular, the Seventh Goal of attaining Environmental Sustainability. And let's pretend that the western industrialized nations are the ones with the humongous foot.
And then we must ask ourselves the question: "What kind of ecological footprint are we leaving?"
Then we are forced to admit that our consumption habits (or dare I say overconsumption
habits) of natural resources and energy have contributed to the
devastation of Mother Earth. There are many practical personal steps we
can take to contribute to making our global human habitat more
sustainable. Do I drive to work every day or can I take public
transport or ride a bike? Have I installed energy-saving light bulbs at
home? Do I buy only the produce that is grown locally? Or do I make it
even more local by growing my own fruits and vegetables? Am I aware
that buying water in plastic containers is very damaging to the
What kind of ecological footprint are you leaving? Take a quiz
After you've taken the quiz, perhaps you might want to take some actions. Dr. Bruce Milne, director of the Sustainability Program at the University of New Mexico, and his assistant Mariel Tribby have created a handy kit to help you move in the direction of greater sustainability. The kit requires that you find a buddy or buddies to help you make sustainable changes in your lifestyle. Click here to access the kit (in .pdf format).
At a broader level, the government of South Australia has launched a wonderful campaign to measure the ecological impact of those citizens that live within its borders on Earth. The illustrations at the top are from the campaign flyer. Click here to download South Australia's Ecological Footprint flyer (.pdf.format)
I recently had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with one of the foremost experts on environmental sustainability and ecospirituality, Sister Paula Gonzalez, a Sister of Charity-Cincinnati. Sister Paula and I chatted at the Center for Action and Contemplation's Great Chain of Being conference in early August.
Sister Paula is the founder of EarthConnection, a center for learning and reflection about living lightly on Earth. The solar-heated and energy efficient office named La Casa del Sol is a revitalized chicken coop. The center has implemented a permaculture demonstration project and 16 raised garden beds that, with the help of volunteers provides fresh, organic vegetables for low-income residents in the area.
Sister Paula proudly wears her white ONE wrist band everywhere she goes, not only as a symbol of the Seventh Millennium Development Goal, but also to draw the connection that all eight Millennium Development Goals are related. The truth is that if we take seriously the concept of sustainability, then we will consume less, which means that resources can be spread out more evenly, eventually making it easier to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty, fight AIDS and other diseases, and attain basic primary education for everyone.
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