Reflections on my 2020 Sustainability Progress

I like to take my time setting my annual intentions, spending the whole month of January slowly reflecting on my previous year’s progress, measuring my environmental footprint, and thinking of goals that will being me joy, connection, and reduced impact in the year to come.

 

I LOVE calculating my annual footprint! I’m a data junkie and love to use data to celebrate my accomplishments and drive my journey forward. I use this calculator from Global Footprint Network to measure my environmental footprint each year and have created a free course (with handouts and a 15-minute video) to help you get started calculating your footprint too.

 

In 2020, I made three major changes intended to reduce my footprint:

  • No flights  – we committed to a year of local family vacations, to exploring our amazing home state of Michigan and to discovering new and wonderful activities in our community. Little did I know, in January 2020, that a global pandemic would keep all of us so close to home last year, but even with the additional challenges of COVID we had some amazing family adventures with a slightly higher-than-usual focus on outside activities.

 

Me and my family ice skating at the Rose Parks ice rink in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. With masks on, of course.
We had a GREAT time finding local, outside adventures this year! Michigan has so many beautiful state and county parks, campgrounds, trails, beaches, and other activities, even in winter! We love skating at the outdoor ice rink in downtown Grand Rapids.

 

  • Converted to 100% electric vehicle – in February 2020, we made the leap and bought a used Tesla. We spend months agonizing over the decision… 100% electric or a plug-in hybrid? Tesla or another less expensive model? In the end, we decided to invest our hard earned dollars in alignment with our values and I can’t tell you how good it feels not to be burning gasoline anymore!

 

My 2015 Tesla, Model S, parked at a supercharging station
I feel so good driving my electric car and never filling the tank with gasoline!

 

  • Increased my focus on preserving local food for winter – over the summer months I spent countless hours in our backyard vegetable garden and in the U-pick fields near our home. I canned, froze, and dehydrated so much local fruit and vegetables… see the list below! During my journey, I created another free course for you to help you incorporate these age-old preservation techniques into your life.
    • 120 pounds of tart cherries
    • 50 pounds of blueberries
    • 30 pounds of strawberries
    • 10 dozen ears of corn
    • 50 pints of tomato sauce
    • 2 cups of tomato paste
    • and dozens of smaller batches of roasted asparagus, red peppers, dilly beans, sun dried tomatoes and more!

 

Me, holding a big flat of strawberries in the U-pick field
In addition to preserving healthy, nutritious, local food for my family to eat during the colder winter months in Michigan (when local food is harder to come by), I had So Much FUN in the U-Pick fields with my kiddos!

 

And my three changes worked! I was able to reduce my footprint from 2.5 earths in 2019, to 1.4 in 2020! It’s still too many resources (a truly sustainable life requires everyone to use the resources of less than 1 Earth), but I’m SO proud of my progress!

 

graph of my 2019 vs 2020 environmental footprint. 2.5 earths in 2019 and 1.4 earths in 2020 on the left and a graph showing the impacts by category (food, shelter, mobility, goods, and services) on the right.
I’m so proud of this progress! You can see the drastic impact my no flights and new electric car had on my mobility footprint in the graph on the right! (the mobility category captures all transportation impacts, including flights, driving, public transportation, etc)

 

Have you calculated your 2020 footprint? Did you have specific goals in 2020 to make your life more sustainable? Tell me about your goals, footprint, or progress in the comments!

 

 

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