Back in 2010, I often wrote about our usage. For those of us here in the US, we always came up on the heavy end of usage. In fact, regardless of our lifestyle choices, just revealing that we lived in the US added negative points to our overall sustainability score, which irritated me, sometimes, but I understand. Just calculating the transportation factor alone (given that most of us in the US have and heavily rely on our automobiles - especially in rural states, like Maine, where everything is so spread out) increases our usage compared to places that have a mass transit infrastructure.
I haven't heard as much talk in the news or around the web these days about personal usage, and so, when I saw
this article on Der Spiegel, I was excited to try it out.
Some of the answers were a bit skewed, because we don't purchase meat from the grocery store. We raise our own chickens and rabbits, we eat wild meat (deer, turkey, fish), or we purchase a meat share (pig, cow, lamb) from a local farmer. With the way that our meat is packaged by the butcher for our family of five, we end up eating about 1.4 lbs of meat per person per week.
We also don't throw away food. Whatever food waste there is either goes to our chickens or goes in the compost pile, but I still put a number in there, because, maybe there are times when something gets put in the garbage that should have gone outside.
The electronic waste question was also a difficult one. My house is full of electronics. Everyone one of us has a laptop computer, and we all have either a smartphone or a Kindle. The thing is, however, that we do, as suggested in the article, repair instead of replace. Deus Ex Machina still has the first smartphone he ever purchased, an iPhone 4. One of the buttons no longer works, but the phone itself is fine. He wouldn't have gotten the smartphone when he did, except that none of the cellphone carriers in our area could support his old razor. We've replaced the screens on my daughters' phones on several occasions when they cracked. As for computers, we rarely replace those, either, because if it works, it works. Why get a new one? And we're just as likely to figure out what's wrong with the old one and replace a part (like putting in a new hard drive, which we've done) as we are to purchase a new one - and even then, the new-to-us computer is just as likely to be a refurb.
The clothes question was an interesting one, because many of the clothing items I own were purchased second-hand to begin with, we tend to wear our clothes until they can't be worn anymore, and when the clothes are no longer fit to wear in public I keep them so that I can make them into something else - like oven mitts, cloth sanitary napkins, bath mats, or surprise clothing items.
I estimated that 10% of my wardrobe consists of things I don't wear often, but that number is, possibly, misleading. I have lots of sweaters that I don't wear at all during the summer. I have some dress clothes that I only wear when I'm ushering at the theatre.
It's been a long time since I filled out one of those calculators, and we've changed a lot in our lifestyle habits. With regard to answers on this calculator (which, I believe, assumed I was German and so I wasn't automatically dinged for being an American :)), we're not doing so bad.
How do you compare to the world?
Your consumption in comparison with the world:
- Your spending: 26 % – People in in Botswana. spend a similar amount on food as you do, measured as a percentage of total expenditures.
- Your meat consumption: 0.6 kg – Your weekly meat consumption is 0.8 kilograms. That is comparable to the weekly per capita amount available ****.
- Your household of 5 person(s) throws away 0.5 kg food – At 0.1 kilograms per person, your household throws away less food than those in all European countries for which data is available.
- You're responsible for 5.4 kg electronic waste – You are responsible for roughly the same amount of electronic waste as people in the Dominican Republic.