Small Footprint Living!

     
     
 

 

 

 

Our 'ecological footprint' is the measurement of what we consume and the 'footprint' it leaves on the earth.

If you drive 30 miles to work everyday and eats at fast food restaurants three times a week you have a larger ecological footprint than a person who takes the bus to work and cooks meals at home.

Americans make up only 4% of the World's population yet Americans consume more than 25% of its resources.

There are easy ways to reduce what we consume: bring canvas bags to the grocery store, buy a travel mug and bring it to the coffee shop. Buy local food whenever possible. If just one out of every ten of us took these simple steps we would make a big difference!

 

 

 

   


 

Everything we consume or use-our homes and their contents, our cars and the roads we travel, the clothes we wear, and the food we eat-requires energy to produce and package, to distribute to shops or front doors, to operate, and then to get rid of. In other words, it takes a certain amount to sustain each of us, and as human's we have to depend on the earth's resources to survive. As Americans, our style of living requires the most amount of land and its resources; much more than the average Chinese, for instance.

Up until recently, there was really no way to monitor human resource usage on a global scale. However, satellite imagery now allow very detailed land cover mapping, which when combined with geographic information systems (GIS), enables researchers to map human's influence-our ecological footprint. Using these tools, researchers have identified four types of data we can measure: population density, land use, infrastructure, and human access. When this data is compiled, it creates the map called the Atlas of the Human Footprint. When you look at the map, you can select your continent and get a close look at the patterns of human influence across the lands surface.


Atlas of The Human Foot Print. To see details click on a region when you open the map

Note:map opens in a new window!

 

Today the map indicates that 83 percent of earth's resources are in use. Basically, each human should use one ecological footprint. Ecological footprints are measured in units, and one unit is about 2.5 acres of biologically productive space. In reality, each single American uses close to six units! And - as you have probably guessed - there are countries where each person does not get to use even one unit. As these countries develop, however, they too will need more units, unless we find new ways to manage and distribute resources.

An Atlas of the Human Footprint can help us learn how many resources we use and how we need to conserve. Furthermore, we can use it to find the "last wild places," in order that we can work to protect them!

 

More on the foot print...

The term "ecological footprint" describes the impact that an individual, you, your neigbor, a person in a different country has on his or her environment. An ecological footprint takes a number of things into account such as car ownership, amount of garbage generated, how often the individual walks or rides a bicycle, and other things designed to gauge land and water usage.

The idea of an ecological footprint was conceived in 1992 by William Rees, a Canadian ecologist. Rees believed that finding a rough yardstick to measure consumption would help to illustrate the problems caused by population pressure and increases in consumption. Using data gathered all over the world, he showed that present rates of consumption and increase could result in a serious global problem in an alarmingly short amount of time. While the ecological footprint does have some inaccuracies, it is a solid starting point for a discussion about how humans use the environment.

What to do? Small changes can truly reduce an ecological footprint. If nations work together we can greatly reduce the amount of resources we consume, and each one of us can make a difference just as corporations and governments can, when presented with concrete ways in which change can be made. Some changes require drastic lifestyle alterations, while others are more simple and practical.

Ecological footprints are used as educational tools all over the world to show people how they interact with the environment around them. Simple online calculators can show ones ecological footprint, and are an interesting way to evaluate a lifestyle!