On the back of recent global declarations and growing awareness around the climate emergency, it is becoming more and more apparent that saving the planet is now everybody’s responsibility. The hard truth is that we are not living within the earth’s limited resources, and genuine transformative and collective behaviour change is needed to address this.
More and more of us are looking for inspiration on more sustainable ways of living- from rejecting single-use plastic to carrying biodegradable coffee cups to living off-grid and investing in renewable energy to power our homes. One Planet Living® offers one such inspirational vision of sustainable living.
One Planet Living
The social enterprise and charity Bioregional, has championed the concept of One Planet Living over the past 25 years. One Planet Living is a vision of a world where everyone, everywhere lives happy, healthy lives within the limits of the planet. The One Planet Living sustainability framework is a holistic people-first initiative comprising of ten simple principles to make it easier to live happily and sustainably and can be applied from an individual level right up to a global organisational level.
Earlier on in the year, Bioregional published an interesting summary report featuring the ecological footprints of four very different communities from around the world as part of its One Planet Cities project. Our very own county of Oxfordshire was included in the study, having its ecological footprint recorded and analysed against those of communities in South Africa, Denmark and Canada.
A snapshot of Oxfordshire’s ecological footprint
How did we fare? It turns out that when it comes to sustainable living, despite the widely varying social and economic means available to each community, what we all have in common is more significant than any differences. The common denominator lies in the fact that the footprints of all four communities were recorded to be far above sustainable levels of natural resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon emissions from buildings made up 13% of Oxfordshire’s total footprint whilst food consumption, including livestock farming and meat and dairy production, made up 43%, a high figure similar to the majority of the other communities. This highlights the major impact of food consumption on the planet. Meat and dairy accounted for a staggering 78% of greenhouse gas emissions related to food consumption in Oxfordshire.
One Planet Oxfordshire
However, it’s not all doom and gloom on the eco-footprint spectrum. This report has created sustainability action plans to help each community move towards greener futures. One Planet Oxfordshire is bringing together a wide range of local councils, organisations, businesses, schools and community groups from across the county to collaboratively create a ‘One Planet Action Plan’ for a better, more sustainable future.
To move towards sustainability and One Planet Living, a list of priorities were suggested for the communities analysed, from moving towards a circular economy in which goods are reused, repaired and recycled, to reducing fossil fuel use in road transport. Consuming poultry instead of red meat was also suggested as poultry farming requires less land and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Although gradually switching to a more plant-based diet would have the most beneficial effect.
Other sustainable priorities included making homes more energy efficient so that they require less energy for heating and cooling. Through eco-retrofitting, like the Cosy Homes in these case studies, you can do your bit for the environment in Oxfordshire too!
Calculate your own ecological footprint
An ecological footprint is a measure of humanity’s demands on nature, a concept developed by the Global Footprint Network. Ecological footprinting reports that if everyone in the world consumed as much as the average person in Western Europe, we’d need three planets to support us. Big changes are to be made if all our communities are to live in tandem with the resources that our only planet can provide.
We hope this blog post has stirred the eco-warrior in you. Intrigued to find out your personal ecological footprint? You can do so by visiting the Global Footprint Network website here, taking the first important step in the race to save our only planet.