If you want to make a smaller ecological footprint, you have to start with the biggest consumer of resources and work your way down. The number one resource consumer in the average affluent person’s life is . . . the automobile!
For most people (myself included), getting rid of the car entirely is unrealistic. I’m not here to try to guilt anyone into getting rid of their cars. It doesn’t work. However, for most people, it’s quite possible to drive less. Today I rode my bike 2 miles to downtown SF and back for a dentist’s appointment. It was quite pleasant and didn’t take any longer than driving. Not only that, but I didn’t have to look or pay for parking. People forget about bikes. So bike and walk when you can and you’re on your way to lowering your ecological footprint significantly.
Number 2 is home heating and cooling. Wear sweaters in winter and dress down when it’s hot.
Number 3—drying clothes. Use a clothesline.
Number 4 diet (eating vegan and local is consuming less). Again, not guilting anyone here. I eat meat, dairy, and egg sometimes but I try to eat vegan and local when I can. We get a CSA box which makes it easier.
Number 5 home lighting—switch to fluorescents.
These are just off the top of my head. A detailed analysis might come up with a slightly different order but these are all close to the top. Can anyone else think of any big footprint items?