You know the size of your footprint, right? Or maybe not, if we are talking about the imprint that you leave on the planet from the resources you use and the waste you generate. But what if you are doing the right things to reduce your environmental footprint like recycling, energy conservation and buying local? How much does that make a difference?
Americans on average have the largest footprint in the world due to our high level of consumption. We consume 24% of the world’s energy with only 5% of the population. So is that a problem? If everyone starts to live like we do it is. With developing countries like China and India aspiring to similar lifestyles – multiplied by the population (2.6 billion) – we could have a major overshoot of our planet’s resources. If everyone lived the lifestyle of the average American we would need 5 planets.
There are methods to calculate your ecological or environmental footprint. Calculators are available on-line to help you determine how many planets it would take if everyone lived the same lifestyle as you. The ecological footprint has emerged as the world’s premier measure of humanity’s demand on nature. It measures how much land and water area a human population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its wastes, using prevailing technology. Conceived in 1990 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at the University of British Columbia, the ecological footprint is now in wide use by scientists, businesses, governments, and individuals working to monitor ecological resource use and advance sustainable development.