Ecological footprint assignment

THE PLAN  

Calculation of my footprint:  

The first step for reducing my ecological footprint was figuring out what I my footprint was in the first place.  

Using the Ecological Footprint Calculator, I calculated that I have a footprint of 8.75 hectares. Here are the results of the Ecological Footprint Calculator:  

 

Comparison of my footprint to others:  

According to “Size Matters”, an article by Hugh Mackenzie, Hans Messinger and Rick Smith from 2008, the ecological footprint per capita in Canada is 7.6 hectares. According to that article, my footprint would be pretty high. I asked a few of the other TALONS what their footprint was, and here are a few of the answers I got 

  • 8.08 hectares  
  • 8.43 hectares  
  • 6.95 hectares 
  • 7.5 hectares  
  • 7.11 hectares  
  • 8.10 hectares  
  • 9.05 hectares 
  • 9.35 hectares  

So, I found that my ecological footprint of 8.75 is high compared to both the article and the other TALONS, although it is not that much higher. I definitely had a lot of work to do to reduce my footprint!  

 

Ten actions that increase my footprint:  

There were several factors that made my footprint so large, and there were several steps I could have taken to reduce that footprint. Here is a list of ten actions I could have taken to reduce my ecological footprint:  

  1. Take shorter showers (3-6 minutes instead of 10+ minutes) 
  2. Buy clothes second-hand or from a friend.
  3. Wash my clothes in cold water.
  4. Try to create less garbage each day (make it all fit in a cup)  
  5. Try to walk where I am going more often than driving when possible.  
  6. Spend less than an hour on a computer or watching TV each day.  
  7. Grow some of my own food.  
  8. Only buy food that was grown in BC 
  9. Not eat any meat products (meat, eggs, fish) one day each week.  
  10. Use a water saving device in my toilet tank.  

 

Five actions I will take to reduce my footprint:  

After identifying some of the actions I could take, I selected five steps that would be manageable to complete during the pandemic. This chart shows what the actions is, and why I chose that action:  

ACTION  WHY? 
Take shorter showers (3-6 minutes).   Taking shorter showers is something that is easy do, and the pandemic does not affect it, which means I am able to work on it while staying in my house for the majority of the day. It is also an effective way to reduce the amount of water I use, since I shower daily.  
   
Wash my clothes in cold water.   Washing my clothes is an activity that uses up a ton of energy each week. An article from Treehugger says that 90 percent of energy used in washing your clothes is used when heating the water. By washing my clothes in warm water, I will be saving a lot of energy as well as helping out the environment.  
   
Not eat any meat products (meat, fish, eggs) one day a week.  While stuck in my house for so much time, I found that I was eating more and more food out of boredom (which is not good), but I thought that I could make a small adjustment to my diet one day a week for the environment. Since there are still a ton of meals you can make without meat, fish or eggs, it would not be too complicated to complete this action, yet I would still be reducing my impact.  
   
Try to create less garbage each day (make it all fit in a cup).  During the pandemic I am staying at home for so long that I feared I would start to create even more garbage than usual. By keeping track of the amount of garbage I am producing, I would be more aware of my impact and would work harder to reduce it.  
   
Try to walk where I am going more often than driving when possible.  During the pandemic, I am spending more time inside than usual, and I hoped that by trying to walk places instead of driving I would be able to spend more time outside, while simultaneously reducing my ecological footprint. Although I am not leaving my house as much as usual these days, when I do leave I typically stay close to my home, and that is why I thought that walking would be a manageable way to reduce my impact.  

  

How I will change these actions to reduce my footprint:   

After having chosen the actions I would take to reduce my ecological footprint, I had to figure out how I would change these actions. This chart shows how I am going to change the actions: 

ACTION  HOW? 
Take shorter showers (3-6 minutes).   I am going to set a timer for five minutes before showing so that I can keep track of if I am actually taking showers that are less than six minutes.  
   
Wash my clothes in cold water.   I will wash all my clothes in cold water, and this will reduce my ecological footprint and reduce the amount of energy used each time I do the laundry.  
   
Not eat any meat products (meat, fish, eggs) one day a week.  Each week, I will choose one day where I will not eat any meat. This will reduce the amount of meat my family will buy, even if the quantity of meat bought is only a little bit smaller.  
   
Try to create less garbage each day (make it all fit in a cup).  Each day, I will keep all the garbage I produce, and at the end of the day I will place it into a cup to make sure that I am not making too much garbage and to be more aware of the amount of garbage I use.  
   
Try to walk where I am going more often than driving when possible.  Whenever I am planning on leaving my house, I will think about if I am able to walk to where I am going instead of driving, or if it is possible to walk part way.  

 

 

THE REFLEXTION:  

Changes that were easy and why:  

The easiest change to make was washing my clothes in cold water, since I, personally, did not have to change much for that action. I also found it easy to take shorter showers because I was able to track it and make sure I was showering for less than six minutes. Creating less garbage than usual was another action that was fairly simple and easy. Each day I just made sure to produce less garbage, which was not too challenging.  

 

Changes that were difficult and why:  

Two of action that I found more challenging were trying to walk instead of driving and not eating meat, fish and eggs one day a week. I had to keep reminding myself to walk instead of drive, and sometimes I had to drive because I did not have enough time to walk. It turns out that making even such a small change in my diet is challenging, as I had to find new meals to make that did not include meat, fish or eggs. I did not realize how often I eat eggs on a daily basis, and I was reminded how much I love eating fish! It was difficult to go without those two food items for even one day.  

 

What were some of the obstacles I encountered? 

ACTION  OBSTACLES 
Take shorter showers (3-6 minutes).   There were not too many obstacles here. I did realize, however, how much I love taking long, relaxing showers, but I was able to reduce the time I took while showering by using a timer, which put some pressure on me to not shower for more than six minutes.  
   
Wash my clothes in cold water.   Again, this was not very challenging to do as I did not have to change anything in my daily routine.   
   
Not eat any meat products (meat, fish, eggs) one day a week.  One obstacle I encountered was planning out meals that avoided meat, fish and eggs. This was more difficult than I thought it would be. I also found that I really missed not eating eggs, which is probably one of my favorite foods.  
   
Try to create less garbage each day (make it all fit in a cup).  This was not too challenging, but I did find that I sometimes forgot I was keeping track of how much garbage I produced and would throw away some garbage without keeping track of it.  
   
Try to walk where I am going more often than driving when possible.  One obstacle I encountered here was that I often did not have enough time to walk wherever I was going, so I had to drive. But, when I did have time, I liked walking since it was a way to get outside, something I am missing during this pandemic.   

Steps to take in the future:  

In the future, I plan on getting a water saving device for the toilets in my house, but it might be a while before I will be able to do this since I am currently trying to avoid busy stores. I will continue to try to walk places instead of driving when I have time, since this was a nice way to get outside and reduce my footprint. I will also continue to reduce the amount of garbage I produce by keeping track of all the garbage I make in a day. I will keep trying to take shorter showers and will keep washing my clothes in cold water. Since spring is coming, I plan on growing some of my own food in our garden, and I will try to buy food locally.  

I feel that I am now much more aware of how I am impacting the environment, and I hope to keep working towards reducing my ecological footprint!  

 

Here are two websites I used for a bit of research during the planning phase:  

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National_Office_Pubs/2008/Size_Matters_Canadas_Ecological_Footprint_By_Income.pdf 

 

https://www.treehugger.com/culture/washing-laundry-in-cold-water-is-the-same-as.html 

 

 

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