Why does One Planet Living want us to live like Europeans?

All you shopaholics listen up: Excessive consumption is sucking our planet's resources dry.
All you shopaholics listen up: Excessive consumption is sucking our planet's resources dry.
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Take a brief tour of your home and chances are good -- especially if you live in a developed nation -- that you have a fair portion of stuff that you don't use or need. The problem is we're starting to run out of the materials that make up that stuff, and unless we change our habits on a global level, there might not be anything left.

That's where One Planet Living comes in. This project is a registered trademark, jointly owned by the British nonprofit organization BioRegional Development Group and the well-known foundation called WWF International. One Planet Living has 10 guiding principles, and its overall goal is to develop sustainable consumption habits for everyone to follow.

The basis for One Planet Living is rooted in the idea that locally producing and managing resources in a sustainable manner is key to preserving our natural environment. To this end, BioRegional and WWF International are researching and promoting a variety of environmentally conscious plans, educational efforts, business models and public policy approaches.

­We're consuming our natural reserves -- some of which are irreplaceable -- way too fast. According to BioRegional, if everyone on Earth modeled the North American lifestyle, humankind would need the biocapacity of about five planets to maintain our way of life. Biocapacity refers to the way we can measure how much the environment can produce and how much it can absorb as waste. Europeans do a little better but still not great -- if everyone followed Europe's example, we'd need three Earths to get by. So the hard truth remains that we have only one planet to share among every living creature.

Does One Planet Living want us to return to the way our ancestors lived -- hunting, gathering and living off the land -- all without air conditioning? On the next page, we'll examine why we should lighten our ecological footstep and the principles needed to help us accomplish this goal.­