Despite what its name suggests, your ecological footprint has nothing to do with the arch of your foot or the size of your big toe. What does it mean, then? It’s a way to quantify the biologically productive land and water needed to produce the resources you consume and to absorb the waste you generate. Any product you consume comes with its own environmental price tag, from your pint of beer at the local pub and your lunchtime quinoa salad, to that new pair of sneakers.
Ecological footprint is expressed in global hectares (gha) or global acres (ga). The ecological footprint of products is calculated from the amount of cropland, grazing land, forest area, built-up land, and fishing grounds necessary for their production. That total is combined with the amount of CO2 released in the production and transportation process. The average human uses 2.6 global hectares yearly, which is more than the 1.7 gha per person available in the world. Our average footprint is so huge that we’re on track to exhaust the earth’s resources if we don’t make big changes soon.
Calculate your ecological footprint
Is your environmental footprint a David or a Goliath? Try calculating your personal impact with Earth Day Network’s ecological footprint calculator. The WWF’s Living Planet Report is published every two years and includes an index of each country’s average footprint per citizen. The most recent publication shows that the United States ranked 8th in the world in 2010. And, um, you know what they say about nations with big feet… HUGE environmental impact.
Water footprint is another form of ecological impact, defined as the volume of fresh water needed to produce the goods and services we consume. The ever-expanding global population, rising affluence, and the earth’s shrinking water supply, have turned fresh water into a scarce commodity. Without water there can be no life, so it’s important to be aware of the amount of water needed to produce any given product. Visit Water Footprint Network for a list of common consumer products and their respective water footprints.
How to reduce your ecological footprint
Your lifestyle has a direct impact on your ecological shoe size, which means you can absolutely take steps (see what we did there?) to reduce your environmental impact. Meat and other animal products require much more land and water than vegetarian products, so eating less meat already makes a huge difference. If you want to learn how to reduce your carbon footprint in other easy ways, we have plenty suggestions! Try leaving the car at home and walk to the supermarket whenever you can. Hit up the thrift store for your next fashion statement. Throw on a sweater and drop the thermostat by one degree. Switch off the lights when you leave the house – we promise your cat isn’t afraid of the dark. This last one might be hard, but cut your shower sing-along down to one or two songs instead of Beyoncé’s whole Lemonade album. We’re sure you have a stellar voice, but you don’t need to leave the water running to showcase your talent.
Needless to say, a reusable Dopper bottle goes a long way to reducing your ecological footprint. Single-use bottles are responsible for 2.5% of global oil production, while the carbon dioxide output involved in producing and transporting bottled water is 300 times higher than it is for tap water. Limit your oil and CO2 waste by setting yourself up with one of our reusable water bottles to refill over and over again. Go on, get those big feet of yours over to the Dopper online shop.