In using the Ecological Footprint Calculator, I have found that my ecological footprint is 6.7 hectares. At first glance, I believed this to be quite a large footprint. However, as compared to Elaine’s ecological footprint of 7.45 hectares, Valerie’s 16 hectares, Kimi’s 12.45 hectares, and Jerome’s footprint of 8.35 hectares, my footprint seems to be quite small. That being said, there are many habits and actions that unnecessarily increase the size of my footprint daily. For example, I tend to take long showers and baths, which increases my water use significantly. I also purchase most of my clothing first-hand. Moreover, I tend to hardly wear some of the clothing that I own. One of the most significant additions to my ecological footprint comes from the fact that I usually travel with my family in my car. Not only that, but I also spend 30 minutes to an hour in the car daily, due to extracurricular activities. My extracurricular activities themselves are also contributors to my footprint. For example, the soccer fields that I practice and play at take up many hectares of land. Additionally, I need many different types of equipment to play soccer, such as soccer balls, nets, jerseys, cleats, and shin-pads. Another habit that has significantly impacted my ecological footprint is my use of technology. Due to homework and leisure activities, I tend to spend more than an hour on the computer daily. Interestingly, my diet contributes to my ecological footprint in many ways. For example, I do not grow my own food, which has many effects on my footprint. Furthermore, I do not only purchase organic or locally grown foods. These are just a few examples of how my actions impact my ecological footprint.
As shown by the examples above, almost everything I do impacts my ecological footprint in some way. There are many aspects of my life that with even the slightest change could significantly decrease my ecological footprint. By making an effort to alter the way I complete certain tasks I will reduce my ecological footprint while still completing all of my necessary daily tasks. First, I will take shorter showers and reduce the number of baths that I take. Through calculating my ecological footprint, I have found that the length of my showers has significantly increased my ecological footprint. I believe that simply taking shorter showers is a simply way to decrease my ecological footprint without significantly impacting my schedule. In order to ensure that I am taking shorter showers, I will set a timer before I get in the shower. Once the timer is done I must get out of the shower. This will force me to be efficient and stop wasting water.
Another action I am taking to reduce my ecological footprint is walking more. As many of my extracurricular activities are not located in the tri-cities, a large part of my ecological footprint can be attributed to transportation. Because of this, I will look to walk whenever I can rather than driving. I also chose to try and walk more because it will benefit my health and well-being while reducing my ecological footprint. In order to increase the amount of walking I do, I will give myself extra time to walk places such as the library, rec centre, and other places in my community.
Along with walking, I will also be looking to carpool when possible. As transportation was the most significant contributor to my footprint, I believe that it is crucial for me to find more economically friendly ways to travel. I chose carpooling because when I am driving I am usually travelling to and from soccer practice, which is located in Burnaby and New West, or soccer games, which can mean driving as far as Richmond and back. Carpooling with my teammates will be both very easy to organize and also a very enjoyable way to reduce my ecological footprint. I will organize a carpooling schedule with one or more of my teammates for my practices and games to ensure that I am able to carpool consistently.
When calculating my ecological footprint, I was surprised by how much my clothing impacted my total footprint. Because of this, I have decided to try purchasing more second-hand clothing items. Along with this, I will also be seeking more hand-me-down clothing from my sister and other family members. In order to purchase more second-hand clothing, I will go and look in many second-hand stores in the area to see which ones I prefer and could potentially begin shopping in consistently. I will also talk to my sister to see if she has any clothing that don’t fit her anymore that I could use.
Last, I will try and purchase more locally grown foods. I have chosen to do this for many reasons. First, I feel as though it is culturally important to understand what types of food are grown in BC and how they can be used. Additionally, purchasing foods made in BC supports local communities and farmers, which is very rewarding. There is a weekly market at the Port Moody Rec Centre that sells many different products that are grown and made in BC. In order to increase the amount of locally grown foods I buy, I will go to markets like this and look carefully in grocery stores to find as many products grown in BC as possible.
After a week of making these five lifestyle changes in an attempt to reduce my ecological footprint, I have encountered many successes and challenges. One of the easiest changes to make was taking shorter showers. Although it took a few attempts for me to get used to it, the timer was a very effective way to force myself to be efficient. Furthermore, not knowing how much time I had left on the timer often led to me getting out of the shower before the timer was finished. I believe this change was extremely easy because the sole reason for longer showers is relaxation. However, taking shorter showers gave me more time to complete homework and other tasks which ultimately led to more opportunities to relax. In just one week of timing my showers I have decreased my time to five minutes. The steps that I plan to take in the future in order to continue decreasing the length of my showers is to decrease the length of the timer weekly, until I am able to shower in 2 minutes.
Another change that was quite easy for me to make was carpooling more often. As mentioned, I challenged myself to carpool as much as possible to soccer practices and games. One of my teammates lives nearby, and because of this we were able to create a weekly schedule in which we would alternate driving each other to and from practice. Both my parents and my teammate’s parents work, and because of this they were very willing to agree to carpool. That being said, taking their timetables into account while creating a carpooling schedule that worked for both families was quite challenging. Since we have organized the schedule it has been successful, and we plan to continue using it for the rest of the season. In the future, I plan to try and organize carpooling to all extracurricular activities and events.
Purchasing second-hand clothing as well as using more hand-me-downs from my sister and other family members has been very successful. Second-hand clothing is very easily accessible. I was able to go shopping for second-hand clothing with friends at many different stores. Furthermore, buying second-hand clothing is much cheaper than purchasing brand new clothing, which has made this change very easy. Additionally, receiving hand-me-downs from my sister and other members of my family has been very successful. Rather than getting rid of clothing that doesn’t fit, my sister has been able to give it to me. I have also found that sharing clothing has been a very effective way of increasing the wear of the clothing that we purchase. In the future I plan to continue decreasing the amount of brand new clothing that I purchase and continue to buy second-hand clothing.
Despite the successes that I have had in making changes to my lifestyle, I have encountered some challenges that I am working to overcome. The most difficult change to make has been walking rather than driving. Due to the location of my house, it is quite difficult and time consuming to walk to the places that I go on a regular basis. For example, it is not possible for me to walk to school as I would have to get up unreasonably early in order to get to school on time. Additionally, I play on the Burnaby District Metro Soccer club, therefore my practices are in Burnaby and I am unable to walk there. In attempting to increase the amount of walking I do, I have walked to many events in my community, such as my band concert at rocky point or to the Port Moody Rec Centre and library. I have found that in order to reach other destinations, such as school, I must walk a short distance and then take public transit. I understand that public transit is more environmentally friendly that driving in a family car, however I would still like to increase the amount of walking that I do. In the future I am interested to see how I can use biking as a source of transportation, seeing as walking was too time consuming for my lifestyle.
Another challenge that I faced was buying more locally grown foods. By going to the market and searching for BC grown foods at the grocery store I was certainly able to increase the amount of locally grown foods that I purchased and used. However, there are many products that are not locally grown that are a large part of my family’s diet. Because of this, it was impossible to completely remove food products that were not grown in BC from my diet. In the future I hope to slowly change my daily diet to focus more on the foods that are grown in BC.
I have found his experience to be extremely valuable. It is very interesting, and quite surprising, to see how my actions are influencing my ecological footprint. Furthermore, the process of making small changes and seeing the impact it has on my footprint has been very eye-opening and has given me new motivation to try and improve my lifestyle. In the future I hope to use this awareness to make more changes that will help me decrease my ecological footprint. Furthermore, I hope to raise awareness of the many changes that people can make to their daily lives to reduce their footprints as well.