03 May Why You Need to Know Your Ecological Footprint
As Earth’s population grows, so does its demand for resources. What we eat, how much we travel and which products we use are factors in determining how much we consume as humans. Ecological footprints are the measure of that consumption.
At our current rate of consumption, we’re absorbing 157% of the natural resources on the planet, meaning we’d need an Earth and a half to maintain our ecological footprint. In order to preserve our remaining resources, it’s crucial that we reduce our consumption.
The most important first step to understanding how you can reduce your impact on the environment- whether through changes to your business, your home, or your lifestyle-is to determine your ecological footprint. An eco-footprint calculator can give you real numbers that indicate approximately how much energy and resources you use. Here’s how you can figure it out and reduce your impact.
Locate an Eco-Footprint Calculator
Several environmental organizations, such as the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and The Nature Conservancy, offer online questionnaires and calculators that probe exactly how much energy your home, business and lifestyle uses.
Locate an eco-footprint calculator. It will ask for your eating, driving, traveling and energy-using habits. Be as honest and factual as you can. The calculator app may ask follow-up questions about your lifestyle choices, such as how you spend your free time. All of these factors get added into a formula that should give you an approximate calculation of how many resources you use on an annual basis.
Reduce Your Consumption
Once you’ve determined what your ecological footprint is, you can create a plan to reduce it. Try breaking down your consumption into categories: food, home and travel.
According to the WWF, food comprises 10% of the average person’s eco footprint. Typically, people who eat meat and cheese have larger footprints than vegetarians and vegans. Most animal products come from large, industrial farms, which require a lot of energy and water to operate. These farms also use a lot of energy to ship from the farm to a processing plant to a grocery store to your table.
A tip for reducing consumption would simply be cutting back on meats and cheeses or buying them from a local, organic source.
How much energy you use at home makes up about 20% of your footprint. You can reduce this number by using energy-efficient products in your house and turning off lights, entertainment devices, electronic appliances and water faucets when they are not needed.
Travel makes up the bulk (35%) of every person’s ecological footprint. Planes and cars use a tremendous amount of fossil fuels, which emit carbon when burned. Taking public transportation and carpooling or buying and driving a flex fuel, hybrid, or electric car is also a great way to reduce your environmental impact.
Purchase Carbon Offsets
In addition to reducing your consumption, you can also offset your carbon emissions. Businesses can purchase carbon credits, which fund forestry, conservation and renewable energy efforts to compensate for the energy businesses use.
Many businesses can’t find a way around shipping goods, for example, even if they use hybrid trucks. Therefore, they measure their eco footprint and, in an attempt to neutralize the amount of carbon their trucks release, they purchase carbon offsets.
Recycling is one of many ways you can manage and reduce your eco footprint. The more we recycle, the fewer raw materials and resources need to be harvested for new products.
Private companies can recycle substantially more than government operations, including electronic and landscape waste. To start recycling at your home or business today, contact LRS for recycling and waste removal.