[science] ecological footprint – my steps on earth



My Calculated Footprint: 13.45 hectares 

Subtotals:  Water Use – 1.50 hectares, Clothing: 1.05 hectares, Stuff – 0.30 hectares, Shelter – 4.40 hectares, Transportation – 2.40 hectares, Fun – 1.30 hectares, Food – 2.50 hectares


Comparison Of My Footprint To Others

Comparing my ecological footprint to the footprint of others, I noticed that my footprint, at 13.45 hectares, is significantly larger than most of my peers, which ranges from 6.95 hectares to 12.25 hectares. Furthermore, I discovered that an average person in Canada has an ecological footprint of 8.56 hectares, meaning that my lifestyle is more unsustainable than the majority of Canadians. After comparing my footprint to those of others, I concluded that I need to strive for change and start making sustainable choices. 


10 Actions That Increase My Footprint 

  1. watering our garden every week 
  2. buying new clothes instead of thrifting and upcycling 
  3. not actively avoiding disposable items
  4. using cars as a travel medium to my extra-curricular activities, which results in long periods of travel time
  5. lack of dietary restrictions
  6. spending more than an hour on technology
  7. producing a basket of garbage
  8. a large amount of unused living space
  9. my daily activities require a considerable amount of space
  10. not eating locally sourced food


5 Actions To Reduce My Footprint – Why I Chose Them and How I Will I Change Them

Of the ten environmentally damaging actions listed above, I determined five actions that I would attempt to change in order to establish and maintain a sustainable ecological footprint. However, as we are currently in quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the changes I can execute are limited. 

First, I decided to reduce my water use by encouraging my parents to water our garden less and volunteering to manually water our plants instead of using sprinklers. I targeted our extensive water use because the duration between each watering could be easily extended to three weeks and because our garden didn’t need to be watered so frequently, meaning that a large percentage of water is wasted and unnecessary. Therefore, to minimize our water use and my ecological footprint, I manually watered our home-grown crops and flowers according to their watering requirements and our entire garden once every three weeks. 

Then, I focused on setting dietary restrictions and preferences to reduce the ecological footprint of my food intake. This change was motivated by several research articles that indicate dietary changes, especially the reduction of dairy and meat products, will significantly reduce one’s ecological footprint and greenhouse gas emission. Since my family didn’t need to consume meat and dairy products daily and reducing its consumption will improve our Earth, I chose to implement restrictions on my family’s diet. After a thorough family discussion, we decided to reduce our consumption of meat to once every two days and beef to once every week, and we also substituted dairy milk with plant-based milk. 

For my third change, I concentrated on limiting my device usage as it’s both beneficial for my health and the vitality of our Earth. I defined my device usage as time spent on electronic devices for the purpose of entertainment, which excluded my time doing homework and other educational activities. I aimed to reduce the time I spend on technology to an hour or less. 

Through the calculation of my ecological footprint, I realized that my family and I produced a lot of garbage; more specifically, we produced a basket of garbage every day. I recognized that a basket of disposable garbage every day was way too much waste for a three-person household and that our lifestyle left an impactful footprint on the environment. Therefore, in efforts to become more sustainable, I challenged myself and my family to produce less garbage by reusing and recycling, a straightforward and effective change.

My last attempt to reduce my ecological footprint was to purchase locally sourced food. Though minimizing my ecological footprint was a great reason to execute this change, my decision to pursue this attempt was made based on my belief that it’s important to support our local farmers and food production industry in this difficult time. Therefore, to reduce my ecological footprint and support local businesses, I started buying local produce and encouraged my parents to do the same. 



Changes That Were Easy To Make:

buying locally sourced produces, and recycling and reusing to reduce waste

It was surprisingly easy to buy locally sourced food. Due to the pandemic, I was able to become more active in my family’s grocery shopping and thus, make decisions to purchase locally grown food. When I discussed my attempt to reduce my ecological footprint and support local farmers with my parents, they were delighted to help. Moreover, originally, I thought that locally sourced food options were limited, but I soon realized that once I actively sought out locally sourced products, they became much more common and visible. I believe that I successfully increased my family’s consumption of locally sourced produces with little difficulties. 

Recognizing the extensive amount of waste my family produced, change was enforced directly and effectively. My family became more aware of what we threw in the garbage. I discovered that a considerable amount of my garbage (ex. yogurt containers, juice cartons) was actually recyclable. With this discovery, the implementation of this change became the simple process of determining if a piece of garbage was recyclable or not. After gaining a more profound understanding of waste segregation, waste reduction became appreciably simple and easy. 


Changes That Were Hard To Make:

water our garden less and by hand, implementing dietary restrictions, and limiting device usage

When I decided to take on the responsibility of watering our garden, I didn’t fully consider and understand what I was committing to. As my family grows organic fruits and vegetables, along with flowers, in our garden, there are demanding watering requirements, making it difficult to manually water our garden. Although I was able to reduce water use by watering our garden less and by hand, it was both physically challenging and time-consuming. This change will be difficult to maintain and manage.  

The dietary restrictions on meat and dairy proved to be easy in theory but difficult in execution. Though my family isn’t intense carnivores, we usually had some sort of meat every meal as meat is very dominating in Asian dishes. It was challenging to break this dietary habit, and I craved dishes that involved meat first week after we reduced our consumption of meat. But, after the tough adjustments in the first week, it became easier to avoid meat in our diet and substitute it with vegetables. Though difficult at first, I’m reducing my ecological footprint through dietary restrictions, and I’m prepared to maintain these dietary restrictions. 

My attempt to limit device usage in order to control my ecological footprint was harder than expected. I believe that the main contributing factor to my struggles with this change is Covid-19 and the resulting quarantine. As we aren’t allowed to go outside and see friends, I’m using technology as a method of communication, which results in long periods of time spent on my phone and computer. Though I’m able to limit my device usage, I’m unlikely to maintain these limitations. 



The two main obstacles I faced while reducing my ecological footprint was the Covid-19 pandemic and my pre-established lifestyle. 

The Covid-19 virus restricted the actions I can take to reduce my ecological footprint. For example, it was difficult for me to reduce my device usage because I use social media to communicate with my friend and check in with everyone during this dire time. Furthermore, Covid-19 limits my options of locally sourced food as farmer’s markets and directable purchases aren’t available. However, though Covid-19 complicates my attempts to reduce my ecological footprint, I also recognize that it limits activities that would normally contribute significantly to my ecological footprint.  

The habits and lifestyle I previously lived was also an obstacle that prevented me from embracing change and reducing my ecological footprint. While adjusting to my dietary restrictions, I found that my lifestyle and existing habits were difficult to break. I wasn’t aware of how much consuming meat had been engraved into our daily routines until we decided to strive for change. My habits and lifestyle obstructed my attempts to reduce my ecological footprint, and it was difficult to overcome them. 


My Steps in the Future

I’m grateful for discoveries and realizations this activity inspired in me, and I’ll continue to pursue a sustainable lifestyle. In the future, I plan to continue reducing my waste by recycling and reusing, buying locally sourced produce, and following environmentally-friendly dietary restrictions. Furthermore, I’m looking forward to developing more strategies to reduce my ecological footprint and improve our Earth.

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