You are probably familiar with the idea of your Carbon Footprint, which is often mentioned in reports about Climate Change. It is the amount of Carbon Dioxide emissions you are responsible for, directly and indirectly, and is measured in tonnes. But how about the concept it originated from: your Ecological Footprint? This is a more comprehensive measure of your impact on the environment. The concept was developed here in Canada by William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel of the University of British Columbia in the early 1990s.
Your Ecological Footprint is the area which is required to produce the resources you consume (food; fresh air; water; fuel for electricity, heating and transport; energy and materials used to make the products you buy, etc) and to absorb the wastes for which you are responsible. Think of everything that leaves your home: via the sewer system; the garbage truck; your chimney and also your car exhaust. Once these waste products have left our homes, it is important that they do not damage the capacity of the surrounding ecosystems to replenish our supply of clean air, water and healthy food. Just imagine, if none of your waste was removed from your property, how large would you want your back yard to be? You start to get a feel for the scale of the ecological impact of your lifestyle….and of course there is waste produced in the factories where the goods that you buy are made; that’s your waste too!
If you would like to learn more about your Ecological Footprint, there are some really cool footprint calculators available online, for example: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/personal_footprint