My ecological footprint came out to be 8.85 hectares.
While this is below the class average, 10, it is above the Canadian average, 7.25. I was both disappointed and disgusted to see that I was more devastating to the environment than the average Canadian, and was glad to have this opportunity to (hopefully!) decrease this number. Through this project, I aim to gain the skills to eventually decrease my footprint to below the Canadian average.
10 actions that are increasing the size of my footprint
- I take very long showers
- My family own 2 cars
- I spend around an hour in the car every day.
- I don’t wear some of my clothing.
- I spend more than an hour on electronics every day.
- I leave the lights on in unoccupied rooms.
- I produce a lot of garbage.
- I never “let the yellow mellow”.
- All my clothing is bought new for me.
- Neither my shower or toilet are water saving.
5 actions I can take to minimize these
- I am going to start taking shorter showers. I chose this action because long showers are neither a necessary part of my life nor very important to me, but it is an action that can severely hurt the environment. I’m going to become more conscious of how much water I am using by setting a timer outside the shower so I can be aware of the time and refrain from playing music while I’m showering to avoid being distracted.
- I’m going to try and produce less waste. Households produce way too much garbage every day, and I want to do my part to minimize this problem. I’m moving a garbage can out of my room so it’s more effort to throw things away. Also, now I will have to go to the kitchen to throw things out. Beside the kitchen garbage can are the compost and recycling bins, so hopefully I will choose these options when applicable more often.
- I’m going to try and spend less time on electronics. Not only is this good for my health, but spending less time using energy/electronics is a good way to decrease my ecological footprint. I’m downloading an app called ‘Moment’ on my phone that tracks the amount of time spent on your phone and sends you reminders when you exceed previously placed goals. Hopefully, this app will help me be aware of the amount of time being spent on electronics, and encourage me to choose a different activity instead.
- I’m going to try and buy less of my clothing new. Buying new clothing is an unnecessary habit that increases by ecological footprint. Thrifting is a cool and fun way to find used clothing at a discounted way. Not only is thrifting an enjoyable activity, but it’s environmentally friendly and will help me decrease my ecological footprint! When I need new clothing I’m going to try and hit the local thrift shops instead of going to the mall.
- I’m going to try and save water through my showerhead/toilet. If there’s a cheap way to save water and the environment, why not take it? I’m going to install a water saving device for both my showerhead and toilet and hope they don’t hinder the usage of these appliances.
Some easy changes were taking shorter showers and buying used clothes. Setting a timer and not playing music were quick and easy changes that really didn’t impact my lifestyle at all, and I quickly got into the habit of taking fast showers, even without a timer set. Thrift shopping is an activity I really started enjoying. It didn’t feel like work at all, and instead a cool activity with the payoff including unique vintage clothing and a decreasing ecological footprint. Another easy change was installing a water saving device inside of my toilet and on my showerhead. These devices did not change the way the appliances worked (at least by my observation) and were quite easy to install. They were also very inexpensive, and only cost about 27 dollars for both at home depot.
The harder changes were producing less waste and spending less time on electronics. While moving the garbage can was good in theory, when I was busy the garbage would just accumulate in my room, eventually ending in me (frustrated) and throwing it all in a bag together. A better system would be to have several recycling options in my room and on hand. Also, it’s impossible to not spend time on electronics when you’re in high school. Not only are electronics your main form of communication, but they also are your means of work. I need to email and use google docs. Maybe during the summer I’ll try this action again, but for now, this was unsuccessful.
Some obstacles I faced were trying not to spend time on electronics but still trying to do all my homework. Things like evals I could print out and do in paper and pen, but for most of my homework this simply wasn’t an option. Also, a problem I encountered with thrift shopping was timing. It’s really quite a lot of work to find the item, let alone the proper sizing and fit, so if you need a piece of clothing on a deadline, thrifting is a long shot. Thrift shopping works better when done consistently over a long period of time as you can constantly browse through new intakes and keep an eye out for several pieces at a time.
In the future I plan to continue thrift shopping, work different recycling options into my bedroom, and do more research around reducing your ecological footprint as through this process I have learned how easy and rewarding it is to take steps to help the environment.