8-Point Checklist For How to Reduce Your Bio-Footprint

Reading time: 5–6 minutes

I was in my early 20s when I made a decision to live as “lightly” as possible on this planet. That was almost half a century ago.

There was no big kerfuffle yet about climate change or global warming but there was a strong environmental movement and people getting “back-to-the-land” to grow their own food organically on small homesteads and to live more lightly and sustainably as a reaction to all the environmental drawbacks associated with industrial agriculture.

We were worried about what was happening to our environment. Marine biologist Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, published in 1962, brought our attention to the damaging side effects of all those years of DDT spraying that were starting to affect our daily lives in unexpected ways.

There was also lots of talk about ending world hunger and death by starvation and looking for ways both scientific and political to do that.

So back to me in my early twenties. In the United States, the first of two game-changing books had just been published, “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappe in 1971 and 2 years later, its companion book “Recipes for a Small Planet” by Ellen Buchwald Ewald in 1973.

I bought both of them. Here’s a picture of my copies. I still have them. And take a look at how much they cost back then! $1.25 and $1.50. Anyone could afford them. Anyone!

They were a huge success! Why? Simple. They were about feeding more people in a healthy way by eating only vegetables, grains and legumes and doing so while still providing the protein your body needs.

Well, taking that approach results in a huge reduction in your bio-footprint! Here’s a quote from “Diet for….” ; “If you switched to a meatless diet it could take up to 21 times less input to make one pound of protein.” That’s right, half a century ago, you had to feed a cow 21 pounds of protein to produce 1 pound of meat protein available for human consumption!

We were also learning about DNA, RNA, molecular genetics and starting to develop technologies that could alter genomes to accomplish what at the time, seemed like wonderful things.

And some of them were!

Alright, I could go on and on about all these technological advances but what is really important is over the years, I was able to little by little, reduce my bio-footprint.

And you can too. Here’s one example of a decision I made many years ago that reduced my bio-footprint.

I became a pescavore — I eat fish, shellfish and other seafood but no other land-based animal meat products. And not everyday.

Hey! Why didn’t you go full fledged veggie, you might ask? Kind of a simple story, really. At the time, I played in a band that ate a fair amount of meals at fast food places on our way to a gig. You know, Burger King, MacDonald’s and other places like that. So what was I to do?

As a kid, I grew up catching, cleaning and eating the fish I caught. And I was still willing to go fishing and eat fish. As I could get a fish burger at most of those places, it meant I didn’t have to pack a whole lot of special food that I could eat when the band went on a road trip. Bingo, perfect compromise for everyone and it still works for me.

So how do YOU do that? Reduce YOUR bio-footprint.

You don’t need to take big gigantic steps. You don’t need to be a tree-hugging left winger, gluten-free, vegan person who only wears homespun cotton or wool garments and sandals constructed using hemp fibre etc etc.

How might you go about this?

Everyone loves checklists so — here’s my basic 8-point How to Reduce Your Bio-footprint” checklist for you to use.

All it asks for is a tiny bit of mindfulness (or a lot if that’s your style):

1. Look at yourself and how you live. As lightly or as deeply as you like.

2. Make a list of some of the things you do or use in a normal day (morning cleaning routine supplies, food you eat at various meals and snack on, clothes you wear, car you drive, and anything else you can think of).

3. Congratulate yourself on doing that. It’s a lot harder to actually do it than it sounds when you just read about it! Go get a latte, eat some chocolate, or whatever. Indulge a bit.

4. Next, ask yourself “If I alter some of these aspects of my life, will it reduce my bio-footprint?”

5. If yes, see if you’re willing to alter that aspect and if so, how and to what extent?

6. If not, move on to the next aspect

7. Repeat the previous bullets 4, 5 and 6 over and over and over.

8. When you run out of 4, 5 and 6, go back to #1.

That’s it! I hope you’re not too disappointed. I didn’t give you an easy task like recycle your paper.

Ok, how about a simple example. Yay, he’s going to tell me what I need to do :)

Question: Do you use water? Yes, I use water, everyone uses water! Great! Think of all the ways in a day you use water. What kind of water do you drink, tap water or bottled water? Why? How do you use water to brush your teeth? Do you shower (could you turn off the shower while you soap up) or take a bath (less water in the tub) or just rub down with a wet cloth now and then (OK, either you’re awesome or you stink a lot!)? How do you wash your dishes (maybe you leave the water running while washing or rinsing) (do you use the efficiency setting on your dishwasher)?

Do you see how examining the many aspects of something so simple as using water offers dozens of opportunities for reducing your bio-footprint? We barely scratched the surface here!

The checklist I just gave you is a method you can use to reduce your bio-footprint. Now you may wonder, how long should I do this for?

Ummmm, if this is something you really want to do, then it goes on for the rest of your life. Yup! No end to it, sigh….

If you dedicate yourself (and your family if you are part of one), I promise you, there are no rewards, no one will actually thank you and you probably won’t see any actual effect on the planet.

So why would you do it!

Simple. It’s the right thing to do. And it matters. And it’s only when people act at a personal level like this that change really does happen. Imagine thousands of other people doing the things you’re doing. Get the picture?

And we all want a healthier, happier Earth, right?

So get started. No time like the present. Hmmm, is it warm enough for me to line dry the clothes I just washed today…..

Oh yeah, and there’s a little secret I wanted to let you in on. Usually, every time you find a way to reduce your bio-footprint, you also save money. Not always but often enough that over time, you may be able to take yourself out to dinner or something way bigger than that.

I hope you found this helpful and want to share it with your friends. If so, please click on the social media links provided.

Until we talk again,


Hey! Are you interested in biology news and fascinating/ cool stories — for yourself or to share with your friends or kids? Then grab my “3 Fascinating Creatures” ebook here and sign up to get my weekly newsletter. You won’t snore while reading it, I promise!

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Rich writes about fascinating creatures and biological issues that affect our everyday lives. Subscribe and get your free ebook at www.biology4everyone.com.

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