YOUR Decarbonisation Road Map - Why and How to Calculate Your Ecological Footprint
Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. It’s time to get comfortable with your ecological footprint. If you’re reading my blog, chances are extremely high that you’re using more than your fair share of this planets resources in a BIG way. It’s only by getting to grips with your ecological footprint that you can create an effective plan to reduce it.
Now that the self loathing out of the way (not entirely dissimilar to how I feel after finishing off a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream by myself), let’s get to the good part. Calculating your ecological footprint is going to empower you because, let’s be honest, you’ve only got some much free time and this will give you the information you need to be more effective and focus first on the areas where you’re going to be most impactful.
I have used various footprint trackers in the past, but my favourite is the Ecological Footprint Calculator by the Global Footprint Network. You’re going to need add up how many miles you travel and you may need to have a copy of your most recent utility bill, but none of the inputs are too onerous. Dare I say, it’s actually fun to use.
Once you get your number, it’s very easy to go back and change some of the variables to see how quickly the numbers move. For example, I started off with an ecological footprint of 6.5 earths, but once I removed my flights from the equation, I went down to 1.5 earths. Yes, that’s EARTHS, as in, if everyone on the planet lived like me, that’s how many earths we would need. Consuming 150% of my share is hardly a cause for rejoicing (unless, again, we’re taking about consuming Ben & Jerry’s), but it sure beats 650%.
I also really enjoy the fact they’re looking at more than our carbon footprint and frame the discussion in ‘earths’, which gives a nod to the concept of equity. Not to mention, how many of us can picture a metric of carbon in our minds?
The numbers are approximates, but they do give a great overall sense on where to focus our time. In the U.S. and the U.K., transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gasses. Your transportation choices might be the largest part of your footprint, or perhaps it’s your home energy use, or maybe it’s the food you eat? All of these present a great place to start. With flights, travel less and offset the flights you do make. With energy, switch to a 100% renewable energy with your utility provider. With your food, think about what you eat and where it comes from.
Whatever you do, don’t let your ecological footprint be food for thought. It’s food for ACTION. Now… all this talk of Ben & Jerry’s has me craving Phish Food.
Resources for Curious Minds
What is your carbon footprint? (British Gas)