At the start of this project, I filled out the Ecological Footprint Calculator worksheet that determined my Ecological Footprint. The ecological footprint calculation returned 11.8 global hectares. When comparing my Ecological Footprint to the Ecological Footprint of my peers, I found that my ecological footprint was one of the highest. The 5 students I compared my Ecological Footprint to are Yuwen, who had 7.82 Global Hectares, Lucas, who had 8.7 Global Hectares, Deon, who had 7.75 Global Hectares, Jiwon, who had 8.8 Global Hectares, and Michelle Y, who had 6.2 Global Hectares. As a sidenote, the average Canadian Ecological Footprint is 8.76 Global Hectares. As you can see, my Ecological Footprint was much higher than the average Ecological Footprint. This means that I used up more of the earth’s resources than the average Canadian, and that I was contributing more to the destruction of the earth than the average Canadian. I realized that it was important for me to create a plan to change that.
My plan involved me focusing on the aspects of my Ecological Footprint that the Ecological Footprint Calculator calculated as the highest. First, I had to create a breakdown of my Ecological Footprint. The Ecological Footprint Calculator breaks up the Ecological Footprint into seven categories: Water Use, Clothing, Stuff, Shelter, Transportation, Fun, and Food. I created this graph to compare my Ecological Footprint in these seven categories.
As you can see, the three categories in which I had the Ecological Footprint, were Food, with 375 points, and Transportation, with 280 points. Though it’s the category with the second highest number of points, it is difficult to bring the number of points down in a span of just a few weeks. The majority of the Transportation points have to do with what cars you have and how often you use them for transportation. I consider these transportation points “locked,” because they are the most difficult to change. I went through every category and counted the number of points that are “locked.” I then totaled up the “unlocked” points in each category. This is the graph that I made of the unlocked points in each category.
I used this chart to formulate a plan to decrease my Economic Footprint. I decided to target the two categories with the most “unlocked” Ecological Footprint, “Food” and “Stuff.” I then created a plan to specifically target certain areas within those categories that I felt I was the most capable of bringing down. My plan involved three main steps. Step one was to cut down on the amount of beef that I eat. The beef that I eat can be replaced with other meat and I can definitely eat less total meat than I had before. Step two was to cut down on my daily garbage. Step three was todo simple things such as letting the “yellow mellow” as well as creating less garbage.
How well did I follow through with my plan? In step one, I reduced the number of times I eat beef each week, and increased the number of times I eat chicken. This lowered my Ecological Footprint by 25 points. I didn’t have fish over the course of this project so I lost 100 more points from that. I made sure to compost most of my waste to lose 5 more points in the food category. That comes to a total of 130 points lost in the Food category. In the stuff category, I made sure to recycle everything and lost 50 points because of that, I made sure to have my garbage on a typical day fit into a cup, and lost 40 points because of that. I also spent $2 less per day, losing me 2 points, and giving me a total of 92 points in the Stuff category. The rest of the points I lost were from small things, like letting the “yellow mellow” (-15 points), more a higher percentage of my clothes (-30 points), and finally, I made sure to turn off all appliances when I left a room (-20 points). That is a total of 65 points lost in miscellaneous, and a total of 287 points lost in total. That brings my Ecological Footprint from 11.8 Global Hectares, to 8.93 Global Hectares. It’s still a little above the Canadian average, but it is much better. This project really forced me to think more than I ever had before about how I affect the environment and the effect it has on ecosystems and the people around me.