What’s Your Footprint?

Did you know that you can find out how your lifestyle affects the environment? While you may feel nervous about pulling back the curtain on this part of your life, there are great resources to calculate your ecological footprint and provide ideas on how to make changes. I’d like to think this blog is a resource for you too, so check back here for specific how-tos as we go along!

Here is my experience with http://www.footprintcalculator.org. I only needed seven minutes to complete the survey, even though I elected to fill out additional details whenever it was an option.

I loved the detailed images, illustrated scenes, and simple navigation! It felt nearer to a game than a survey to evaluate how carelessly I may be living! Even so, this assessment is clearly very simplified. It’s self-reported, so there’s wiggle room on how you perceive your lifestyle and how it affects your stats. I started using a different footprint calculator, but I was dissuaded by the fact that I needed to enter the kilowatts used in my household last month. Too much detail for me, as I was hurrying to do this one thing before my toddler’s contented solo play turned sour. So I recommend this as a great (or quick) starting point, but take its recommendations with a grain of salt. 

Here’s what my results show! (And please disregard the infinity of tabs I had, and still have, open.)

Ouch. I didn’t expect that food would be my number one footprint contributor! With each item of packaged food that I opened today, I was hyper aware of how much energy it took to get it to my kitchen, how little (if any) of what I eat comes from a local source, and how even that produce often comes in a plastic bag. All these little things add up, and, come to think of it, I kind of do eat a lot of food. This point gave me lots to think about, and I’ll be making lots of effort to change my habits.

I appreciate the suggestions that followed my personal results. They have excellent points, but I felt like these ideas weren’t tailored to my responses. Some of the answers I gave showed that I was already doing some of the exact things they mentioned (like having several vegetarian days each week), so it would have been more helpful to have been given new mini goals.

However imperfect this self-examination was, this analysis has raised my awareness to ways I would like to change. Even thinking about these ideas a little more today, and feeling empowered rather than guilty, is motivating me to move forward. I encourage you to use the site above (or search “ecological footprint calculator”) to help you examine your lifestyle and how to start making small changes today!

Did you have any surprises from your results?

Do you have any immediate thoughts on habits you’d like to change? 

I’m going to work harder to eat plant-based snacks, so I don’t idly munch on granola bars or other packaged foods between meals!

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