Do this today! Calculate your ecological footprint and find simple ways to make your lifestyle more environmentally-friendly.
Other ‘Do This Today!’ posts:
What is an ecological footprint?
By definition, an ecological footprint is:
“the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources.”
Basically, your ecological footprint is a holistic look at your resource usage. It’s used to calculate how many earths would be required if everyone on the planet lived like you.
When you calculate your ecological footprint, it takes into account how energy, settlement, timber and paper, food and fiber, and seafood use up our resources. It then compares how fast nature can absorb our waste and generate new resources.
Think of your ecological footprint like your spending while on a budget – just for the planet. If we “spend” too many resources too fast and go over our budget, we head into the negative. That matters when we’re talking about Earth because…
What’s the big deal?
Well, our ecological footprints are getting bigger and bigger.
Globally, our Earth Overshoot Day is July 29th. That’s the day the inhabitants of this planet officially consume more resources than the planet is able to regenerate in a year.
That means we’d need about 1.75 Earths to support all of us at our current consumption rates. AKA we’re edging closer and closer to a global lifestyle that’s unsustainable for life.
Earth Overshoot Day happening sooner and sooner each year is just one more clear indication we’re hurtling down a dangerous, unsustainable path. In 2018, our overshoot day was 8/1. 2017? 8/2. 2000? 10/1.
*NB: these general measurements of an ecological footprint are – of course – limited because they can’t possibly take into account all the details of your life. That being said, using the ecological footprint calculator to measure yours can give a general idea of the strain an average life of relative privilege in a very broken system creates.
Why you should calculate your ecological footprint
We (the global elite) are overconsuming at a rate that’s entirely unsustainable. The food we eat, the transportation we use, and the things we buy are all contributing to the degradation of our planet.
To learn more about how we consume the most and are impacted the least by climate change as white people in industrialized nations, read through this comprehensive post.
To say it bluntly: we are consuming so much the global wars within the next decades will be over access to basic necessities like water or land to grow food.
Knowing how we over-consume and the problems that arise with that over-consumption is the first step in making better choices that lead to a more sustainable future. We can’t set effective goals without knowing where we’re starting.
Take your sustainable lifestyle from “awareness” to “action” by doing one or all of these action items:
- Calculate your ecological footprint using the online footprint calculator.
- Choose 2-3 actionable steps to make a change. Here’s a list of 33 easy ways to start living zero waste as well as the most effective ways to reduce our carbon footprints as individuals.
- Provide 1-2 hours worth of support (money, skill, time) to an organization actively working to reduce our impact on the planet within the next week.