For an environmental science assignment, I calculated my ecological footprint and thought of ways to decrease my negative marks on Earth, applying these changes for the span of about two weeks.
After completing the ecological footprint calculator document, I found myself to score a footprint of 8.9 hectares, with higher subtotals in the food and transportation sections, and an astonishing low score in the shelter section. Given that my birthday is on Earth Day (April 22nd), I figured that I was destined to have a low footprint, and you will see the actions I took to achieve that goal.
As I tried to compare my footprint to those of others, I discovered that Canada’s average ecological footprint was 8.28 hectares in 2014 from an article by the University of Waterloo. Although this was the most reliable and relevant source I could find, I took to my TALONS peers to see their scores. As expected, the scores of my peers were similar to the study done in 2014, with an average score of around 8-9 hectares, with lower scores closer to 6 and 7, and higher scores above 10.
A handful of actions that are currently increasing the size of my ecological footprint include:
- Taking long showers.
- Buying and wearing brand new clothes.
- Producing a generous amount of garbage daily.
- Traveling mostly through the use of a family car.
- Most often driving in a medium-sized car.
- Spending a large portion of my time on a device.
- Playing activities that require lots of equipment (Skiing, Snowboarding).
- Not eating local food a majority of the time.
- Having a lot of meat in my diet (Although mostly organic).
- Having a lot of dairy products in my diet.
Out of these actions, a few that I would like to specifically target to reduce the size of my footprint traveling by car, doing activities that use lots of equipment, taking long showers, and eating too much meat and dairy. I chose to focus on these five actions to reduce my footprint because I believe I would be able to manage the changes I make regarding these situations for longer than my experiment and because each change could be made and implemented even in the case of the current pandemic. I chose actions that were easy to maintain, easy to adapt to, and ones that were accessible to me during this time.
To reduce my footprint of traveling by car as my method of transportation, I will encourage myself to take walks to my destination or use public transport if needed. And although I may not have specific destinations to travel to, I will still try and get a walk outside on a daily basis for my wellbeing. As for finding activities that require less equipment, I have already been placed in a situation to use the items I have around me to create means of entertainment at home, and I will continue to implement this change. As for taking shorter showers, I will force myself to get in and out as soon as possible by implementing the use of cold water in my showers, as my body is not very keen on the cold temperatures. Finally, to reduce my consumption of both meat and dairy, which were both very high all my life, I will encourage my parents to buy more fruits and vegetable, and I will try to shift my diet to grain products as well, which I have not been eating as much during my time at home. I will also try to find alternatives to meat for my protein, such as tofu, which is commonly used in our household.
Two weeks have past and it is currently May 1st of 2020, as I write the reflection piece for my ecological footprint assignment. I will admit that it did feel better to know that I implemented changes to reduce my footprint during my birthday 🙂
After trying to implement all five changes in my life, I experience that some shifts in my lifestyle were easier to make than others. For example, during the past two weeks, I was able to take a significant amount of walks due to the nice weather reducing the use of driving anywhere, and I was able to find new activities that required little to no equipment for my entertainment. These activities included dancing in my living room (Practicing for In-Depth), improving my typing speed through online sources, and learning how to solve a Rubik’s cube with the small toy that I found on my desk.
One change that was definitely challenging to maintain was taking cold showers to reduce my time in the bathroom. Although a good idea at first, as I put my change into practice, I found myself to be turning up the shower’s temperature and continuing to take showers that lasted closer to 5 minutes. In addition, the screaming that my vocal cords experienced during my showers were definitely not on a normal level. Overall, I was only able to keep up the shorter shower times for a couple of sessions.
On top of my struggles with the shower, another obstacle that I encountered during my experiment was my meat intake in the past two weeks. Beef, pork, and chicken were all an essential component to my diet since I was a kid, and giving them up was harder than I imagined. Although reducing my intake of dairy was quite easy overall (less cereal, yogurt, eggs), it was just too difficult to reduce my meat intake a significant amount.
In the future, I hope to push myself to continue the changes that I have made and further implement the changes that I was not able to. If we all work to reduce our ecological footprint every day, we can create huge positive impacts in our world, as we’ve already seen with the result of self-quarantine. Each action is a raindrop, and we can create waves.