Ecological footprint sometimes called Eco footprint is the impact of human activities measured in the terms of the area of biologically productive land and water required to produce the goods consumed and to assimilate the wastes generated. In other words, it measures humans dependence on natural resources by calculating how much of the environment is needed to produce the goods and services necessary to sustain a particular lifestyle.
The ecological footprints can be counterbalanced by the earth’s ecological capacity (biocapacity) which refers to the ability of a biologically productive area to continuously generate renewable resources. Both the Ecological footprint and biocapacity are expressed in global hectares. If a region’s biocapacity exceeds its ecological footprint, it is said to have an ecological reserve. If a population’s ecological footprint exceeds the region’s biocapacity, that region runs an ecological deficit.
The world’s ecological deficit is referred to as global ecological overshoot. Since 1970, ecological overshoot has continued to grow over the years. The last overshoot day was August 1st, 2018. Earth’s overshoot day marks the date when all of humanity have used more from nature than mother earth can renew in the entire year. This is as a result of overfishing, overharvesting forests and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester. Human’s demand on earth’s ecosystems is projected to exceed what nature can regenerate by about 75% in 2030.
What Is Your Ecological Footprint?
Everyone has an ecological footprint because we consume the products and services of nature. Some online calculators can help you compute your Eco footprints.
Ecological footprint and carbon footprint are both ways of measuring man’s impact on the environment. A carbon footprint is the amount of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions caused by an activity, individual or organization. It is usually measured as tonnes of CO2 emitted per year. The carbon footprint is an important part of ecological footprint since it also competes for biologically productive space. Ideally, the amount of CO2 emitted into the environment should be such that the biocapacity can absorb or neutralize.
How Can I Calculate My Carbon Footprint?
Fossil fuel and electricity consumption play a major role in our carbon footprint. For example, we drive to work, take a bus to school or a cab to the supermarket. The employees in the supermarket probably took a vehicle there, the products the supermarket sells were all transported. All these must be taken into consideration when calculating our carbon footprints. Even the generators or power plants we use in our homes adds to our carbon footprint. Adding up our carbon footprint might seem difficult, but there are online calculators that can give us a rough estimate of our carbon footprint.
Doing nothing, changes nothing. We have to make conscious effort to reduce our ecological and carbon footprint. This can be achieved in the following ways:
- Drive less, walk short distances or utilize public transportation.
- Use renewable energy when available
- Recycle materials that can be recycled.
- Reduce single-use plastics, reuse shopping bags.
- Avoid short airplane trips. Take a bus or train instead. The big rule of travel says the faster you travel, the more energy it takes, the more fossil fuel gets burnt and the more CO2 is given off.
- Choose energy efficient appliances
- Save electricity.
- Buy foods with less packaging to reduce waste.
- Reduce your food and goods footprint by shopping at a local market.
Lastly, don’t forget to educate others. Your actions and voice matters. Together we can be the change we want to see!