A better strategy to lower one’s footprint is to have an idea first on the actual data of one’s personal footprint. By doing this, I can see which areas need to work on, and I can devise a plan on which activity I need to lessen. A footprint calculator is a great help in quantifying my footprint contributors. The footprint calculator is provided by Global Footprint Network, an organization aiming to help people understand what ecological footprint is, its effect to the world, and how can one help in lowering its contribution in the deterioration of the environment. Basically, ecological footprint is a premier measurement of the demand of human beings on nature in a global scale. The measurement is done by considering the land and water coverage the humanity needed to support their lifestyle that includes the resources it use, the area needed to build infrastructures, as well as the ecosystem that could be harmed because of the waste emitted by the people such as solid garbage and carbon dioxide. Moreover, the calculator also presents the current biocapacity of the world that is the area considered biologically productive. One can result to strategy on how to fit a particular lifestyle on the limited amount of resources the planet Earth can give if one considers the demand and supply.
Based on the result of my ecological footprint quiz, it will take 4.5 planet Earths to maintain my lifestyle if everyone in the world lives as I do. Ecological footprint refers to the number of planet earths needed by the humanity to provide the necessary resources for supporting the activities and lifestyle of the people. That is considering all people in the world have the same lifestyle as mine. Considering the result, it is obvious that the demand is too high for my specific lifestyle since we only have one planet Earth.
Still based on my style of living, 19.9 global acres of the Earth’s productive area is used while 30.8 tons of carbon dioxide is emitted to the atmosphere. A global acre is a unit of measurement used for the productivity of the average land acre. To be specific, it represents the overall global average productivity of all the biologically productive land and water in an annual basis. Out of the 26.9 acres of Earth that I am using to support my lifestyle, most is dedicated to support my energy demand in running my appliances and lightings at home and powering the transport vehicles I ride daily. Next to energy is the crop land where I acquire most of the natural food I eat. Then the forest lands where the construction materials of our house and furniture come from as well as the area that provides trees for the manufacturing of papers and other similar products that I use daily. Next on the list is the grazing land which is the land area used in raising the animals such as chicken, pigs, and cows. On the last positions are the built-up land and the fishing grounds. Built-up lands are the total land area where our house stands as well as the area occupied by the establishments like market and buildings of services that I avail. On the other hand, the fishing ground is my other source of food particularly fishes.
Furthermore, a pie chart was also provided at the end of the quiz. This chart shows the breakdown of all the activities that have an impact on my personal footprint. The result shows that, among the activities, services have the most impact having a value of 44 percent. Next is the food with 28 percent followed by mobility, goods, and shelter that have a percentage of 12%, 8%, and 8%, respectively.
The results show that the majority of my footprint comes from my energy consumption thus it is wise to make special attention on this part. To lower this area, I can result to the usage of energy saving appliances such as those energy star rated models. By doing this, I can still sustain the same activity that I need to do at home but this time, in an electricity efficient way. Moreover, I can also consider using some alternative sources of energy such as the use of solar panels and wind power to run some of my appliances. This action can lessen the footprint by 0.2 planet Earth. These energy sources are considered renewable meaning that the sources are not depleted and replaceable unlike fossil fuels that are non-renewable and take years to replenish. Furthermore, solar and wind energy are cleaner alternatives unlike fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, when burned.
The footprint coming from food can also be lessened in a significant amount. This can be done by decreasing the amount of food, especially the ones derived from animals, by half. If every American did this for instance, land area that has a size of 484 million football fields can be saved. Also, this can lower my footprint by 0.2 planet Earth. Moreover, this action can also improve dramatically my health because controlled eating is better that overeating. The action is not to starve myself but to eat only what is needed by my body.
A public transportation can also be used more often than using a car. This solution can lessen the amount of gasoline that I consume. Moreover, riding public transportation like buses and trains are more energy efficient or will require a lesser amount of fuel to function. Switching to public transportation from cars can lessen the footprint by 0.4 planet Earths because public transportation vehicles accommodate a considerable number of people compared to a car that can only carry six persons at most. If there is a need to use a car, car pooling can be considered. In car pooling more people will share on the energy consumed by the travel. In addition, the number of vacation can be lessened to decrease the footprint contributed by riding an airplane that is considered to be a huge consumer of fuel. Also, these vacations can be limited to local ones so that the distance travelled will be lessened in a significant amount.
The ecological footprint quiz is an excellent exercise that exposed me more to the idea that everything people do have an impact to the environment. It made me realize that human activities contribute greatly to the environmental issues that we are facing today. The statement is especially true if these activities are done in an exaggerated manner because the Earth only has a limited amount of resources and biocapacity that can accommodate the lifestyle of the people. The exercise is more on an eye opening to me that I can do something to lessen the problem. I have my own footprint that needs control. If positive action is done by all the people in the world, the problem of demand shooting, and eventually the environmental issues associated to it, can be eliminated from the picture.
Global Footprint Network. 15 September 2011. Web. 19 May 2014.
Figure 1. Trial 1 of the test.
Figure 2. Trial 2 of the test.