Web Culture

How to Calculate Your Ecological Footprint Before Earth Day

Saikat Basu 13-04-2010

In this article, I’m going to cover something called an ecological footprint calculator. As individuals, we all have ecological footprints. It’s the size that differs. A jetsetting globetrotter’s ecological footprint might be more sizable than yours. A Himalayan hermit might have a tinier one. But as long as we consume Earth’s resources, all of us have a trace of that footprint.


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 Use The Internet To Save The World Read More 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

ecological footprint calculator

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.


ecological footprint calculator


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.


ecological footprint calculator

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.

ecological footprint analysis


The calculators can be set to a country of choice from a dropdown menu.

World Wildlife Fund’s Footprint Calculator

ecological footprint analysis

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.

Earth Day Network Footprint Calculator

ecological footprint analysis


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.


ecological footprint

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.


ecological footprint

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

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  1. Ike Dalley
    June 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Excellent suggestions ! I learned a lot from the info ! Does someone know where I would be able to obtain a sample a form document to complete ?

  2. GlobeRunner
    April 15, 2010 at 1:50 am

    What about the single most important question in this context: "Do you have children?". Breeding is by far the biggest threat to the environment. Why is that so often forgotten? Is it taboo?
    I tried some of these calculators and none asked that question and neither did they ask "do you have/drive a car?". Instead they asked "which type of car do you drive?". It's sad that public transport is so bad in many parts of the world that those who make these kind of surveys assume that everyone drives a car. The results of a Swedish internet survey was more encouraging: 23% had answered that they don't have a car.

    • Saikat
      April 15, 2010 at 7:04 am

      No online calculator can give you an absolutely accurate figure. There are just two many variables to consider over each day. What they are meant to do is to give you a rough estimate.

  3. Art Smeller
    April 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    It is no accident that Earth Day, April 22, is also the birth date of Vladimir Lenin, the Marxist who led the Russian revolution that led to the establishment of communism in 1917.

    Neither mankind, nor the bogyman of carbon dioxide has anything to do with climate change. Right now the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is moving to regulate CO2 as “a pollutant” and it has the authority under the Clean Air Act as the result of one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in modern times.

    Regulating CO2 would make about the same sense as regulating oxygen on the grounds that it produces rust or that it is a component of fire. Regulating CO2 is crazy!

    A little under half (typically about 45%) of the dry weight of any plant is carbon, and almost all that “C” came from CO2 in the atmosphere.

    CO2 is about the only “pollution” you can pump around plants and watch them grow faster, stronger, taller, and more resistant to most of the stresses that normally bother a plant.

    If the Greens want to green the world, the single fastest way to do it is to raise carbon dioxide levels. The irony.