As we get ready to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, let us remind ourselves of a fundamental fact – it’s not the size of our ecological footprints, but what we can do to lessen it.
But what is an ecological footprint?
In real simple terms, it is the amount of Earth’s resources we need to support our current lifestyles. Or as Wikipedia put it, an ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems.
That measure can be approximated by using ecological footprint calculators which measure our using up of Earth’s resources (and generating emissions) across our day to day activities.
Tina let us know how we can use the internet to save the world almost two years back. The ecological concerns haven’t gone away, but the internet is still trying to save the environment. One site at a time. Here are a choice of seven of those.
My Footprint takes a measure of your lifestyle pattern through 27 simple questions. The result is likened to the amount of land and ocean area that would be needed to sustain your way of life. The ecological footprint is measured in global hectares or global acres. What you swallow from the Earth is also calculated across categories like home energy use and transportation, food, housing, and goods and services.
The best thing about this site apart from a slick interface is that it’s tailored for all countries across the globe.
The calculator that’s available at carbonfootprint can also give the values for countries around the world. You have to enter a figure for the period (usually a year) of consumption. The calculator measures carbon emissions across several lifestyle categories and also secondary sources like dietary preferences and recreation habits. Results are compared against country and global averages.
Zerofootprint has a suite of tools which aid companies and communities to manage and offset emissions. As a part of its toolset for individuals, Zerofootprint has calculators for kids and youths. These are really simple tools that can be used in homes and classrooms for basic environmental awareness. For adults, you have a full set of quick one-minute calculators. After you enter your basic lifestyle information, the calculator will provide an estimate of your carbon emissions in 60 seconds or less. A broader tool is the Personal Carbon Manager which stores all your consumption data in your created account.
The calculators can be set to a country of choice from a dropdown menu.
A quick series of multiple choice questions for measuring your eco-impact. The questions cover your food habits, travel, home, and stuff (purchases). If you live in Europe, then this simple and quick calculator can give you a measure.
The Earth Day Network is a worldwide body and the organization that authors the Urban Environment Report, which ranks the health of 72 U.S. cities by more than 200 environmental, health and quality of life indicators. So you can expect them to have an ecological footprint calculator.The ecological calculator calculates ecological footprints for certain countries around the world. The approach is unique because you can go through the eco-quiz with a self created avatar. The quiz is a sequence of personal lifestyle data sets using sliders.
The calculator is also based strictly on the recognized global standard for ecological footprints. Thus, it calculates how much of a biologically productive area is required to produce the resources for the human population and to absorb its waste. The carbon footprint is just one of the things that adds up to the whole personal consumption meter.
Carbonfund asks you to reduce your carbon footprint if you can and offset some if you can through donations. The donations are used to balance out your personal emissions with environmental projects elsewhere. Carbonfund’s footprint calculator adds up your carbon emissions from your home, use of car, buses, trains, etc. The tons of CO2 produced can be offset with the donation amounts specified. The donations are optional, but it gives you an idea of what it would take to offset all that you consume.The site is relevant for households in the US.
WattzOn takes the energy consumed angle to measure man’s impact on the environment. Using WattzOn’s tools, you can realize the total amount of energy (in watts) that’s needed to support your lifestyle. It is a great tool to draw comparisons between what we consume in terms of power and the devices that could be run using the same amounts. You get a breakdown of your energy footprint via slick charts.WattzOn believes that sustainability can not only come through reduction of our carbon footprints but also through wise energy use.
These figures reflected by these online environmental apps are of course not always on the button. Ecological footprint calculators do represent a fair idea of what we do and how much we waste. The short term change we can adopt is to lessen our ecological footprint in areas of least effort. For instance, walking to the supermarket instead of taking the car. The long term changes will be determined by our ecological conscience.
So, have you checked out an ecological calculator lately? Earth Day is on April 22nd.
Image Credit: DaveBleasdale