This article is our contribution to Blog Action Day, a remarkable cooperative event in which some 15,000 blogs and websites will address the topic of the environment.

The combined readership of the committed sites — as measured by their RSS feed counts — totals about 12 million. Most of the bloggers involved do not regularly address green issues. Of course, that's not the case with Lighter Footstep and its sister publication, EcoTech Daily. We talk about environmentally related themes all the time, which makes picking a topic for Blog Action Day a bit more problematic.

We face a bewildering series of challenges over the next few decades. In Atlanta this morning, officials will meet to discuss a previously unthinkable crisis: the city is approximately 120 days from exhausting its supply of fresh water. This same issue, the result of climate change and outdated management policies, will soon be faced by other major metropolitan areas, such as Mexico City and Beijing.

Water isn't the only thing in short supply: so is petroleum, the energy which powers virtually every aspect of our industrial society. The oceans are becoming vast whirlpools of plastic waste. By the time you finish reading this article, 430 acres of old-growth forest will have disappeared forever. The calculus of human survival is becoming increasingly complex.

But there's one thing — a very simple thing, really — that can turn it all around. And I've decided to share this secret with you for Blog Action Day.

GardeningThe big secret

So here you go: we must reduce our consumption.

That's it, really. Technology will help. Policy will help. There may be new discoveries and unforeseeable developments which mitigate our transition to a lighter, more resource-efficient society. But we've left things a bit late to expect business as usual in the new century.

The era of single-occupant, 6,000 pound vehicles is over. So is the expectation of limitless fresh water, productive farmland and the energy to bring food and goods to market if we continue to apply yesterday's solutions to contemporary problems.

There's good news, though. People get it. In just two short years, the environmental movement has gone from being on the ropes to being on the front page. Green advocates and big business are working hand in hand.

Step by step green living

But it still comes down to individual action — you and me, each doing what we can to reduce the amount of stuff necessary to run our lives. It's taking a bus or riding a bike instead of driving; swapping our lightbulbs for CFLs (or, even better, mercury-free LED lighting). Helping to reduce livestock runoff into our precious watershed by swapping a few meat meals for healthy vegetarian fare. Slashing unnecessary power use around the home. Recycling and reusing, rather than burdening our landfills. Choosing bulk goods over heavily packaged products. Taking our green ethics to the grocery store. Relearning skills pushed aside by thoughtless consumerism.

It's often argued that all the individual action in the world won't offset the environmental damage caused by one dirty coal plant halfway across the globe, and there's truth to that. If there's one thing politicians are good at, though, it's getting in front of a parade. When people act, politicians follow. That's what they call "leadership." And we need to let them lead us exactly where we're headed — toward the agreements we'll need to make sure the process of greening the planet fair for everyone.

You can help

Sometimes at Lighter Footstep we feel a bit like those politicians, running as hard as we can to keep pace a motivated and well-informed readership. I've always said that the best ideas for green living come from you. Over the coming weeks, we'll be asking you to step up and lend your experience to the cause. In the meantime, we'll renew our promise to make Lighter Footstep a unique source of practical and actionable strategies for green living. Thanks for participating in Blog Action Day — and here's to a greener world.

This article originally appeared on Blog Action Day: October 15, 2007, on Lighter Footstep. In all, 20,603 websites participated in the event, generating 23,327 green-themed articles and features. Blog Action Day reached over 14 million readers subscribed to the RSS feeds of its participating sites.

Copyright Lighter Footstep 2008

Photo: Chris Breikss/Flickr

Copyright Lighter Footstep 2007

The simple secret to making a greener world
Policy will help. Technology will help. But the most important thing we need to make a greener world isn't something you can buy at the store.