Good Example OF My Ecological Footprint Self Reflection Essay
After taking the Personal Ecological Footprint Quiz online, I was surprised about my effect on the environment. I scored 8.3 global hectares. I did not think I would score this high. I will examine the causes of this statistic, what are the causes and how I can reduce my number.
According to the Global Footprint Network, an ecological footprint is the relationship between bio capacity and human demand. The ratio is expressed as the number of hectares that are needed for one person’s consumption and waste (Global Footprint Network: Advancing the Science of Sustainability). That is the amount of land used for growing food, extracting energy, waste products and creating other items a human needs (clothes, furniture). The measurement was published by William Rees in 1992 and further developed by Mathis Wackernagel (Sustainable Sonoma County).
The Global Footprint Network offers an online quiz to determine my own footprint. I answered a few questions about the foods I eat, how I obtain transportation and the type of building I live in. Based on the information I provided, I earned a Footprint score of 8.3 hectares. The average in Calgary is 8.6, and the Canadian average is 5.8. I am pretty much right at the average mark. This year, it will take 8.3 hectares of land to sustain me. This is the amount of land needed to grow and mine resources in order for me to maintain my lifestyle.
I must admit that I was surprised. I really thought that I was very aware of the environment and my actions upon it. I thought I was making pretty good decisions when it came to consumer choices and lifestyle. Apparently I can do much better. The quiz gave me a few general options where I can begin and I have thought of several other ways that I can reduce my statistic.
The term sustainability is closely related the ecological footprint. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability is “creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.” In other words, what we use up now we must replace for the future. It makes perfect sense; farmers have done it for thousands of years, plant one season of crops, consume them then plant the next crop. Cutting down trees is not such a bad thing if we replant them at the same rate. Recycling glass, aluminums, plastics and paper is the same concept. From the single human consumer to major companies, sustainability has become standard practice. Pepsico has a whole website dedicated to its focus on sustainability, “We anticipated the need to take environmental stewardship to a whole new level at the start of the new millennium, recognizing that environmental sustainability was becoming a core component of sustainable success. We began to put in place the systems, processes and metrics needed to drive continuous improvement in energy and water conservation as well as packaging and waste reduction.” (Pepsico) Sustainability and out environmental footprint is everyone’s concern.
Things that I can do to improve my footprint score and practice better sustainability include both shopping, travel and waste activities. When it comes to grocery shopping, I really need to stay away from prepackaged convenience foods and start to shop for more natural foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not only better for the environment; they are healthier for me as. A good place for me to shop would be the farmers’ market when it is in season. Buying produce and other goods from local producers helps to eliminate the effects of transporting food. Purchasing fresh food and preparing it myself also eliminates packaging and energy. Purchasing products
such as paper and household goods that are made from recycled material is also a positive was to affect my score. There is a myriad of items produced from recycled goods, it just takes time to read the label and packaging. I need to reduce the amount of meat I eat as. I really do eat too much. I also need to increase the amount of fruit, vegetables and whole grains I consume. This diet is better for my health and the environment.
When it comes to my waste products at home, I have to admit that I get a little lazy. I really need to be more aware and careful about recycling all of the items that I can. Sometimes I get lazy and toss a soda can into the trash rather than the recycling container. Also by being aware of the amount of packaging that I have to throw away when I purchase and item. It is far better to buy a large bag of chips rather then a package full of also packaged individual servings. These snack sizes offer twice the amount of waste for the same amount of food.
My parents use to always yell, “Close the door! I’m not heating the whole neighborhood!” As a kid, I really didn’t understand that. My parents wanted to save energy to save money. Now society knows that saving energy saves money and helps improve the environment and cut down on our ecological footprint. According to tips from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, saving power is very effective at reducing my footprint. They suggest: turning off lights when not home; unplug items you are not using and especially if going away; maintain air conditioning at 75 degrees or higher and heat at 68 degrees or lower. Change air filters monthly and use CFL light bulbs. If purchasing a new appliance, be sure that it is Energy Star rated.
The way a get around needs to be changed as well. I tend to drive alone quite often. It would be better for me to commute with someone else. Public transportation is also a big improvement
over driving alone everywhere. It would also be better for the environment and my health if a rode a bike or walked when I could.
Taking the quiz really opened my eyes to the giant footprint I am leaving on this planet year after year. Most of the changes I need to make to improve my score are really not too difficult and certainly not traumatic. Talking about sustainability and environmental footprints does not help the environment: action and changes in lifestyle do.
“Ecological Footprint”. Sustainable Sonoma County Retrieved from:
“Environmental Sustainability” Pepsico Retrieved from:
Global Footprint Network: Advancing the Science of Sustainability. Retrieved from:
“How to Reduce Your Ecological Footprint” St. Mary’s College of Maryland Retrieved from:
“What is Sustainability”? United States Environmental Protection Agency Retrieved from: