A commitment for everyone
Reading time: 9 min
Have you ever wondered how many croplands, grazing lands, or forests are needed to satisfy your lifestyle? This question can be answered by measuring the ecological footprint of each person. The decisions we make have a direct impact on the planet, from the diet we follow to the means of transportation we use. On this page, we explain to you what the ecological footprint is and how to measure it. We also give you a few tips on some sustainable habits that you can adopt to reduce it.
What is an ecological footprint?
An environmental footprint is an international sustainability indicator that, as defined by its authors, measures "the area of biologically productive land needed to produce the resources consumed and assimilate the waste generated."
An ecological footprint is used to calculate the degree of impact our lifestyle has on the environment. Hence, it's also known as environmental footprint.
The concept of ecological footprint was developed in 1996 by William Rees, a university professor, biologist, and ecologist, and Mathis Wackernagel, mechanical engineer and current president of the Global Footprint Network. The goal was not just to arrive at a formula for calculating the ecological footprint of each human activity, but also to compare it to the Earth's biocapacity. This would make it possible to obtain a realistic picture of the natural resources we have available and how they're being consumed.
How is an ecological footprint calculated?
By measuring the human ecological footprint, we can determine the sustainability of our lifestyle and the Earth's biocapacity. It's a good starting point for assessing the current situation and limiting the impact of people's activities to protect and care for the environment.
Before calculating it, it's important to note that to measure a sustainable footprint four factors have to be taken into account:
By keeping in mind these factors, we can then make the calculation based on the following:
Now that we know this information, we have to subtract the resources consumed by each individual from the resources generated by the planet in a single year. The result will be the global hectares (hag) required by each person to satisfy their lifestyle and assimilate the waste it generates.
If after doing this calculation the result is an ecological deficit, or also known as ecological debt, it'll mean that currently there's a lack of biological areas to meet the needs of human beings. You can calculate your ecological footprint through the Global Footprint Network.
These three indicators are interconnected and offer us a global representation of the current situation to make more environmentally-friendly decisions.
Tips for reducing our ecological footprint
As we have seen, an ecological footprint is directly related to each individual's lifestyle. Therefore, the commitment of all members of society, whether it be as a group or individually, is fundamental. Improving the way we produce, choose, and consume is the first step in reducing our ecological footprint.
By consuming responsibly and putting more sustainable habits into practice, we can reduce it considerably. Here are some tips for making it happen: