My Ecological Footprint

The Plan

So after filling out the Ecological Footprint Calculator, I have found that i currently have an ecological footprint of 6.45 hectares. But with nothing to compare my results with, I had to idea what this meant. So I did a quick google search to find that the average Canadian in 2019 has an ecological footprint that is about 7.5 hectares. After seeing this, I was pretty happy with myself. Considering that the quarantine had cut down my transportation score, I assumed that my score was around average.

It turns out that many people had scores that are around 8.5 hectares. A few people had scores that are either drastically over, or under 8.5 hectares, but from what I’ve heard, it seems that 8.5 is the rough average of the class. For example, one of the first people I have compared scores with was Derek. He had a score of 8.95 So my score seems to be well under the class average. Except this time, I guess it’s a good thing.

Although I have a low score, I do have a few actions that increases my footprint by a lot. In fact, I think that the reason I have a low score is not because I avoid actions that increase my footprint, but because I do a lot of actions that decrease it. So a lot of the more heavy hitting actions include: buying new clothing, eating a lot of non-organic beef, spending a lot of time on my computer, flushing my toilet every time, eating a lot of dairy products, showing for 3-6 minutes, owning a medium sized car, producing a cup of garbage on a daily basis, eating farmed fish as part of my diet, and eating wild fish as part of my diet.

From these actions, I don’t actually have many choices that I can try to change in such a short amount of time. For example, I don’t think going vegetarian right now, especially during the virus would be a very good decision for me at the moment. I don’t want to burden my mom, who cooks our food, with having to make certain vegetarian meals just for me. I also can’t do anything about owning a medium sized car and I don’t think I’ll need to buy any clothing for the time being, so I’ll have to choose one more action that isn’t on the list. So for the changes that I would like to apply, I’m choosing to do the following:

  1. I’m going to try to cut down my time on the computer. Although I already know as a fact that cutting down my screen time to only an hour is near impossible, I’m still going to try to cut it down as much as possible. Not only for the environment, but also for myself. I think it’ll be a good change that can give me a bit more time to do other things like reading.
  2. Although I really don’t like the idea of it, I’m going to try “letting the yellow mellow”.  I really don’t want to do this as it sounds really gross, but I really don’t have any other choices. My score is already really low, so in order to get it even lower, I’m going to have to try new things. So here we go.
  3. I’m also going to try avoiding dairy products for the time being. I eat a lot of dairy products like milk and yogurt, so I think this would be a good change for me. I’ve seen a lot of different documentaries and videos on the milk industry, so I know a lot of the consequences of drinking milk. So maybe I’ll try it out for a little while.
  4. Then I’m also going to try shortening my showers even more. I know as a fact that cutting down my shower time to 2 minutes is possible, so I’m going to try to make that time more consistent.
  5. Finally, I’m going to reduce the amount of trash from a cup to almost nothing. A majority of my trash are single use items, so I’m planning on using different, multi use items to reduce garbage. To be honest, I only chose this because it seems like the easiest for me to do out of the countless other choices. But since I already have other really difficult ones to try, I think this is a pretty good choice.

The Reflection

I think that the easiest changes were definitely numbers 4 and 5. I have relatively short hair to begin with, so showering in less than 2 minutes isn’t too difficult for me to do. I also realised that most of my time in the shower was actually spent just standing there thinking, or waiting for the water to warm up, so when I my main focus was to shower as quickly as a could, my time was easily shortened to 2 minutes. However, the biggest challenge that came up when trying to shower under 2 minutes was, as I mentioned earlier, waiting for the water to warm up. I sometimes had to enter when the water was still cold, in order to make sure the amount of time the water was on for was under 2 minutes.

When I was reducing the amount of garbage I used, I found that most of the garbage I make are either yogurt containers, or wrappers. And since I’m already avoiding yogurt because of my third change, all I had to do was to avoid eating candy and other packaged snacks. But since I already don’t eat sweets often, reducing the amount to zero was not all to hard.

Then, the more difficult changes were the rest of the remaining changes, 1, 2, and 3. As I thought, reducing my daily screen time to less than an hour was basically impossible, especially considering the situation we’re in right now. Even just the time I spend doing homework is over an hour, so this was probably not a good choice to start with. I ended up setting limits on the time I spent on Youtube, and this drastically reduced my screen time. I did ended up reducing my screen time by almost 3 hours each day from simply limiting Youtube. So, I instead started to play card games with my siblings during my free time.

Now, the hardest change for me was to let the “yellow mellow”. I was very hesitant to do this at first, and always just instinctively flushed the toilet right away. So when I finally got myself to do this after several days have passed, I realized that it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t leave anything for too long, so there were almost no short term negative consequences. There may be many long term effects, but I didn’t do it long enough to experience them just yet. So in the end, the only obstacle that was blocking me from doing this, was myself.

Finally, avoiding dairy products was yet another difficult change that I had to make. The reason this was so hard was because my first choice of drink and snack are milk and yogurt. I’m usually the one person in my household who single handedly eats all of the dairy products in the house. So avoiding dairy products was quite difficult. But overall, I ended up solving the problem with 2 steps, simply not eating snacks, and drinking more water. The first step doesn’t really need an explanation. I just stopped eating snacks and ate more during meal times to avoid the temptation as a whole. Then for the second step, I actually got myself a water bottle to drink from in my room. Since I’m a lazy person in general, I decided to make water the most convenient drink for me to get in order to stop myself from drinking milk. This actually did work, and not only did I reduce my ecological footprint and save my parents a few bucks from grocery shopping, I also got myself to drink more water.

Overall, not only did these changes help to reduce my ecological footprint, but some of these changes also helped to benefit me. So I’m actually considering on keeping a few of these changes permanent. I’m probably going to keep having really short showers and spent the extra 3 minutes that I save doing something else instead. I’m also definitely going to keep the water bottle in my room so that I drink water more often. But I’m probably not going to continue the rest because the strategies I used to help with the changes were all very temporary strategies that I used just for the time being. Maybe in the future after the situation’s over, I may make more changes that I couldn’t during the quarantine like transportation. For the time being though, I think my ecological is almost the smallest it can be without having to make any huge changes to my lifestyle.