To get a better understanding of my ecological footprint, I put together a few things you too can do at home to help paint a better picture of you as a consumer. First a conceptual map outlining your daily environmental interactions.
Place your most common interactions in the largest boxes and less common interactions in the smaller boxes. Next is calculating your ecological footprint. Taking this quiz will help you visualize your impact on the environment. Follow the story below to see my journey.
My day to day life involves countless interactions with common resources, as does the life of others. I do try to save water by doing my laundry in bulk, and I encourage others to do so. I still find that I take unnecessarily long showers and forget to turn off the tap while brushing for example. In terms of wildlife and my general community, I do not litter and try my best to combat it by picking up garbage. My actions are often for my own benefit or lack reasoning. This relates to the concept of the tragedy of the commons because focusing on my self-intrests do not benefit anyone or anything, and in turn, actually does the opposite. Three linkages I consider fundamental to my lifestyle are, energy, shopping and the consumption of meat. My electronic devices are essential to my everyday life, I use my laptop for school work and I use energy. Secondly, I do buy a lot of clothes but a majority are thrifted. In recent years, I have taken the time to educate myself on the environmental and social damages of fast-fashion and have since opted to purchase second hand clothes as a first choice. And lastly, eating meat is something I’ve done my whole life and I am aware of how harmful it can be to the environment when purchased from supermarkets and other unethically sourced places. I do sometimes buy meat locally but a majority of it comes from supermarkets. Out of the three, the linkage that is the most important to me is energy. I believe there are ways I can continue to cut down my use to reduce my overall energy consumption rate.
The score I received from the ecological quiz was 4.07. The interactions that affected my score the most were water and energy conservation as well as transportation. Everyone in my family takes extremely long showers and overall use a large amount of water daily. Secondly, lights are usually on in my house. This is a habit my family is aware of and are taking steps to change. Lastly, in a family of five, four of us drive. We rarely carpool and therefore contribute heavily to carbon emissions. I am, admittedly, not surprised by this. The score has however put things into a sort of perspective for me. The fact that it would take 4.07 earths to sustain my lifestyle forced me to think a little deeper about just how harmful my everyday actions are to the environment. I find that I make small efforts to 'reduce' my footprint by actively recycling or buying local organic foods from time to time but forget about all the other ways I contribute to the problem.
A majority of the people in my group had a score of 5-6. I was slightly shocked by this. After taking the quiz, I was able to reflect on my daily choices and, quite simply, felt bad. I think our differences lay mainly in the mass of consumption we participate in. What I was able to draw from this is that, the global north lives as if we are the only inhabitants of the earth; being the near sole exploiters of the environment and our resources.
The map I created in part 1 brought visual aid to the score I recieved. I was able to see exactly where and how the everyday choices I make affect the environment around me, both positively and negatively. My score in the environmental footprint quiz provided a wake up call and presented the reality of my lifestyle. After completing the quiz, I was provided a list of ways to make a change in my everyday activities such as drying my clothes outside, and eating in season foods.
Sustainability to me is an ecological balance. It’s the conservation of resources in one's everyday life. It requires active work to partake in a sustainable lifestyle. It counters the concept of the tragedy of the commons and requires the execution of actions that don’t only benefit you but instead, benefit the greater good in the long run.