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Ecological Footprint

by Emily Hawton

An ecological footprint is a measurement of the ecological assets that an individual requires to produce the natural resources they consume. I am going to assess my ecological footprint using footprintnetwork.org. I believe my ecological footprint will be higher than average because I drive a lot to get places and I eat meat quite often for cultural reasons. Even though I think my footprint will be high, I do think I can improve.

I calculated my ecological footprint with footprintnetwork.org. If everyone lived like me we would need 3.5 Earths. My personal overshoot day is April 22, my carbon footprint is 8.7 tonnes of CO2 emissions. My Ecological footprint is 5.5 gha. By consumption category food takes up 1.8 gha, shelter takes up 0.3 gha, transportation 1.2 gha, goods and services 2.2gha.

I am not surprised by my results that if everyone lived like me we would need 3.5 Earths. Although I think I am on the better end of the scale with my results. I believe that my results are so high because I live thirty minutes away from Orillia, which is where I attended high school. Because I was very involved in high school I had to stay after school for extra curricular activities and could not always take the bus home. I had to drive home most days and it was just more convenient to have a car to drive around. I carpooled when I could but could not always because not many students from my school lived by me. I also consume various cultural foods that include beef and pork quite frequently, this is another reason my ecological footprint is so high. These are the things that I would rather not change to improve my ecological footprint because they make my life better.

That being said I do believe that I can do better. I want to improve because I should be a better example. Some small things could be when I am at school I should walk to restaurants that are near Lakehead. I should start taking public transportation when in Orillia instead of using my car to travel. Instead of driving to places, I could also use roller skates to get around the city. This would be more environmentally friendly and it gets me active. When I do drive, making sure my car tires are fully inflated and that I am driving the speed limit can help me save gas and improve my ecological footprint.

I want to start growing my own garden next spring so I can produce my own vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruits. If I cannot plant and grow it myself I will resort to buying local at the farmers market. I do not want to become vegetarian or vegan but I want to start eating less meat or finding meat alternatives. If I am eating out, I should avoid meat based dishes and choose a vegetarian option. I love cooking at home, so some meat alternatives that I could choose from could be mushrooms, chickpeas, or tofu. Even though I do not consume fast food often, I should only get fast food when there is no other option, this reduces the single use plastic that fast food is wrapped in. All this can help me reduce the amount of plastic I consume when getting packaged foods, and reduce my carbon footprint by using less gas to transport produce and food.

When I buy things, I should only buy things I need and not things that I want. If I do not need it, I should not buy it. I have a goal to become more minimalistic and consume way less than what I am currently consuming. I have difficulty with this because I do love shopping for clothes and make up. There are more sustainable ways to shop for clothes, like thrifting or buying second hand, which I always do. I try to buy cosmetics at local stores like the Refillery District, the Makers Market or Harold and Fern in Downtown Orillia. Buying electronics used is also very important. I use a lot of technology to complete my education and my freelance job as a photographer. I should buy used electronics because it helps keep them out of the landfill. I should only throw electronics away when they are no longer usable. Knowing when and where to buy things can help my ecological footprint by reducing the amount of gas needed to transport the products, lowering the carbon emissions of the products.

In the future, when I have enough money, I can buy a hybrid or electric car to travel. This would save a lot of money on gas and carbon emissions when I am driving an electric car. When I buy my first house, I want to power it using renewable energy with solar panels or a windmill. I can also sell power back that I do not use and make a profit as well! When I plan to have children, I will go to Planned Parenthood to know all my options when having a family. This will help overpopulation on the planet. Perhaps in the future there will be new ways to decrease our ecological footprint!

Even though my carbon footprint is very high, I do a lot of environmental stewardship projects within my community, to promote environmental sustainability throughout the City of Orillia. I run the Sustainable Orillia Youth Council (SOYC), I was very involved with Twin Lake’s Green Team, and I was the Minister of the Environment on my high school’s student council as well. I’ve created projects to reduce single use plastics, written articles about living a more sustainable life and led environmental projects. Perhaps I compensate my ecological footprint with all the environmental stewardship I do.

In conclusion, I calculated my ecological footprint and my Ecological footprint is 5.5 gha, my carbon footprint is 8.7 tonnes of CO2 and if everyone lived like me we would need 3.5 Earths. I know this is high and I do want to improve my ecological footprint. Even though my ecological footprint is high, it does not mean I do not care about the environment. I care a lot and I show this through leadership opportunities throughout the community. I will try to improve my ecological footprint in the future by reducing how much I drive and where and when I buy products, while keeping up with environmental stewardship projects.

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