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Friday, July 18, 2008

How Big is Your Footprint?

by Mary Campbell, Director, Pinellas County Extension

Do you know how much land and ocean it takes to provide the food and products necessary for your everyday life, as well as handle your waste? It is an interesting idea. What if it takes more land for each of us to survive than what is on the earth? That is the analysis behind an Ecological Footprint. It is a resource management tool that measures how much land and water a human population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its waste. The world’s footprint is approximately 23% larger than what the planet can regenerate as reported by the Global Footprint Network. That does not sound too sustainable.

Sustainability is the recognition that when resources are consumed faster than they are produced or renewed, those resources are used up. Resources become more costly as demand gets greater and supplies are depleted. This depletion of resources increases due to growth in population, as well as improving lifestyles. There are several information resources on Ecological Footprint and you can go on-line and calculate your own personal footprint. As we know, most of us in the U.S. have a large footprint compared to the rest of the world. Through energy conservation, recycling, buying local and other resource conservation methods we can reduce our footprint so we don’t run out of earth. If everyone on earth lived like Americans we would need at least four earths.

Check out the size of your footprint:

Global Footprint Network -
Redefining Progress -


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