By: Fariss Samarrai | University Communications
Citizens living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed who want to live and eat healthy while helping the health of the bay now have a handy online tool with which to better understand how individual lifestyle decisions cascade into the environment. A newly released “Bay Footprint” calculator – which focuses on nitrogen pollution – helps citizens to see how diet and other choices affect the bay’s health, and how changed behaviors can improve the bay.
The tool was developed by University of Virginia environmental scientists and Chesapeake Bay Foundation officials, and resides on the foundation’s website.
Visitors to the site can punch in such factors as the amount of meat and milk products they consume, along with other lifestyle choices, and the calculator will display an individual nitrogen “footprint” – how much one person’s behavior effects the regional environment. Visitors can then see what they can do to reduce the footprint’s size and thereby its negative effects on the bay, such as by eating less meat, landscaping with native plants, driving and flying less, and reducing home energy use.