What’s Your Ecological Footprint?

Posted by Kelly Wu

Image Source: Oakland Magazine - http://www.oaklandmagazine.com/media/Oakland-Magazine/June-2007/Green/HR_footprint_1008.jpg

With the increased awareness in our society to focus on sustainability, eco-friendly, go green, etc, most of us will attempt to minimize our impact to the environment, but before you go do something and modify your lifestyle, how do you really know if you are making a difference? In order to see if you are improving our environment, you must first know your ecological footprint.

The ecological footprint is a measurement of humanity’s demand on nature. It measures on how fast we consume resources and generate waste. According to Global Footprint Network, today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.3 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. Obviously there is only one planet Earth, so we must learn how to live within this ecological limits by managing our ecological footprint.

Image Source: Global Footprint Network - http://www.footprintnetwork.org/images/uploads/footprint-1960-2003-graph.jpg_.jpg

Global Footprint Network provides a personal ecological footprint calculator. In order to calculate your ecological footprint, this calculator will ask you several questions based on your lifestyle. These include the type of diet, method of transportations, type of housing, how much waste you generated, etc. Using your answers to these questions, the calculator will return the number of planets needed to sustain your lifestyle if the entire global population lived like you. The calculator also allows your to save your footprint and make modifications in the future to monitor if there is any changes. In addition, it also provides suggestion on how to minimize your ecological footprint. Click here to take the quiz and see what your ecological footprint is.

Image Source: Global Footprint Network - http://www.footprintnetwork.org/images/uploads/personal_calculator.gif

One interesting thing I found about this calculator is that I can never achieve the result of one planet footprint. The first thing comes to my mind is that the world must be over populated. This may be true as world population is growing constantly from 978 million in 1800 to 1,650 million in 1900, and then 6,707 million in 2008. However, its FAQ points out that the ecological footprint is a societal impact on our planet and this is factored into the calculation. In additions to focus on changing our own lifestyle, we also need to influence our family, friends, neighbor, government, and the society to make changes in order for everyone to have a satisfying lifestyle within the ecological limit of our planet.

Now that you have taken the quiz and know what your ecological footprint is, you can then use this as your benchmark and keep track of changes you make in your new lifestyle to see if you are on track of reducing your ecological footprint.

Global Footprint Network
Oakland Magazine – Measuring Your Ecological Footprint
Wikipedia - Ecological Footprint
Wikipedia - World Population