That human well-being is derived from the well-being of our Planet is an essential truth.  Our lifestyles have significant or small impacts on the environment depending on our choices. When we think about it, many of the eco-friendly choices we can make are not even onerous.  It is time to replace an old habit with an eco–friendly one. 

So how Earth Cool are you?  Rate yourself by completing the GAIA Earth Cool Lifestyle Calculator below. This survey is simple and identifies what you need to change for a sustainable way of being. It is not an accurate ranking of negative impacts.  Air travel and cattle farming for example have large carbon footprints, far more than the score of 5 suggests.


Give yourself 1 for YES answers and 5 for No answers.  Give yourself 1 for considerable and consistent effort. Give yourself 5 for no or minimal effort. Have a look at your NO and your Number 5 answers and think about the changes that will turn your No into a YES.

1 How Energy Efficient are you? Answer
1.1 Do you know which appliances and activities use the most electricity?  Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
1.2 Is your electric geyser insulated & Max temperature set to 60C? Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
1.3 Is your electric geyser heat pump assisted or a solar geyser? Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
1.4  Do you take short showers, long ones, or bath?  Score 1 for short shower, 3 for long and 5 for bath.
1.5 Do you dress according to the weather or often use a heater or aircon? Score 1 for YES, 5 for heater or AC.
1.6 Have you replaced your lights with low energy ones? LEDs are best. CFL have mercury. Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
1.7 Do you often cook with energy saving devices e.g. hotbox, solar stove or pressure cooker? Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
1.8 Do you have photovoltaic panels? 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
1.9 Is your transport mainly alone in a car, in a lift club, by public transport or on foot or bike? Score 0 for on foot or bike, 2 for public transport, 3 for lift club and 5 for private car.
1.10 How often do you fly – never, once every few years, once a year, several times a year? Score 0 for never, 1 for once every few years, 3 for once a year, 5 several times a year


2 How Water Wise are you? Answer
2.1 Do you know which appliances and activities use the most water?  Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
2.2 Do you use a container or run the water when brushing teeth, washing hands or fruit etc?  1 for YES, 5 for NO.
2.3 Do you wash cars, windows etc with a bucket not a hose? Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
2.4 Are your toilets low flush or use grey or rain water? Score 1 for grey or rain water, 3 for low flush, 5 for standard.
2.5 Do you usually use rain water or grey water to water the garden? Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
2.6 Are most of your garden plants water wise (apart from food plants) Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.


3 Nature knows no waste. Do you? Answer
3.1 Do you avoid excess packaging & use your own shopping bag? Score 1 for mostly, 3 for sometimes, 5 for rarely.
3.2 Do you compost your organic and garden waste or use a worm farm? Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
3.3 How often do you choose to buy second hand? Score 1 for often, 3 for sometimes, 5 for rarely.


4 Are your food choices good for you and the planet? Answer
4.1 Do you grow any of your own produce?   Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
4.2 How often do you choose local as in South African, organic or Fair Trade foods? 1 for mostly, 3 for often, 5 for rarely.
4.3 How often do you eat red meat? Score 1 for none, 3 for 2 -3 times a week, 5 for most days.
4.4 Do you consume sea food on the sustainability green list?  Score 1 for no seafood, 3 for mostly, 5 eat & don’t check.


5 How chemically clued up are you? Answer
5.1 Do you use eco-safe cleaning agents or make your own? Score 1 for mainly, 3 for sometimes, 5 for rarely.
5.2 Do you take batteries, fluoride lights, chemicals, old oil etc to hazardous disposal? 1 for YES, 3 for Often, 5 for Rarely
5.3 Do you take electronic waste and printer cartridges to a recycler? Score 1 for YES, 3 for Often, 5 for NO.
5.4 Do you take old medicine to the chemist for disposal? This must not go into waste or be flushed. 1 for YES, 5 for NO


6 Is your garden part of nature? Answer
6.1 What percentage of your garden is indigenous? Score 1 for mostly, 3 for more than 50%, 5 for mostly exotic.
6.2 Does your garden have a range of habitats – a pond, a rockery, leaf litter, shrubs or trees? 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
6.3 Do you often see many birds, lizards, insects, frogs etc in your garden? Score 1 for YES, 5 for NO.
6.4 I don’t have a garden.  No score.

Add up your score. The max is 150. The minimum is 28. How did you score? 

If you scored close to 28 you are officially EARTH COOL. If you scored between 45 and 70 you are a GREEN VOYAGER well on the way to an Earth Cool lifestyle.  But don’t stop here. Let your wins encourage more positive changes.  A score over 105 means that you are a TOP CONSUMER using far too many of the Earth’s resources. Look at where you scored NO and 5 and think about what you can change to reduce your eco-footprint on the planet. If everyone lived the `dream’ affluent American lifestyle it would take 3 Earth’s to provide all the resources, but there is no PLANet B!  

I scored 37 and my downfalls are transport and flying.  It has taken years to set up systems and behaviour patterns to reduce waste to landfill, become water efficient with rain tanks which provide some independence as well as energy efficiency based on a solar water heater and a small rooftop PV system.  These actions and investments are proof that we can individually make a difference.  Now it is time to change the system so that it is easier for all of us to be Cool for the planet.

Add to the interest by commenting on how you scored in the GAIA lifestyle calculator in the comments section below.

 Kim Kruyshaar  2019 09 13