Humans are consumers. We consume every day, whether it’s food, entertainment, goods, or services. It’s no surprise that with this level of innate consumption, how and what we consume has a big impact on our environment. There’s a formula to help determine the environmental impact of a group. It’s called the IPAT model and it goes like this:
Environmental Impact (I) = Population (P) x Level of Consumption per Person (A) x Impact per Unit of Consumption or Technology (T)
This equation is not perfect, and there are variations, but this is the basic idea. Most of the variables in the equation can be changed, but some are easier than others. The world population continues to increase exponentially, albeit slower than before. Technology is improving everyday, thereby making room for more green technologies, but other than investing in scientific research, there aren’t many ways to speed its progress.
The one way that every person can make a difference in impact of our lifestyles is by altering their consumer behavior. So, what can a person do? Besides donate all their worldly goods and live off the land? Throughout our Earth Day posts we’re giving you more specific ideas – like using less, buying used, and reading labels – but the most important thing is to be aware.
Be aware of how the products you use affect others. Be aware of their impact on the environment. Be aware, that even in this grand equation, one person’s habits can make a difference. Be aware that, if we band together, we can make a big impact, or rather, not.