After completing the calculations booklet, I learned that my ecological footprint is 7.25 hectares. Which when compared to scores like Albert’s 7.46 and Elaine’s 7.45, seems pretty average, however with scores like Yunmin’s 13.85 and Sarah J’s 14.85 it appears to be closer to the lower end of the spectrum. That by no means is me bragging that I have a crazy low score, because I absolutely don’t and 7.25 hectares is still ridiculous for one person. I don’t have complete conclusive data; however I believe that I currently have one of the lowest scores in the class.
This is most likely due to a couple of factors, one of which being that my family and I are already very environmentally conscious. We use multiple water saving devices in our house, we only own one car, we try to buy organic and free range whenever possible, and we recycle and compost a ridiculous amount of stuff that would otherwise end up in landfills. As well as all of that, my sisters and I have always had the importance of the environment made clear to us, from a very early age.
Some of the reasons that I have a fairly low score that are specific to me are:
- I’m pescatarian, and steer away from farmed fish at all costs. That alone knocked out a lot of points that my other classmates can’t really help getting.
- I don’t participate in a lot of extracurriculars, one of the only ones that I do compete in is dance, where our only supplies are specific shoes.
- I don’t really buy a lot of clothing/stuff. I generally try not to buy things unless I absolutely need them. Shopping is a task for me, and I rarely go out and buy products just for fun. Additionally I get a lot of my clothes from second hand stores such as Value Village, and I donate a lot of my used clothing to them as well.
Though I am proud of my current efforts and plan to continue with them, there are some things that I have found to be are currently increasing my ecological footprint, such as:
- Spending more than an hour a day on the computer
- Taking 3-6 minute long showers rather than 1-2 minutes
- Getting a drive to school rather than using public transit
- Travelling in a car with my family for long periods of time
- Not recycling motor oil or plastic bags (though we reuse them)
- Not buying all organic fruits and veggies
- Forgetting to turn off lights/appliances when I leave a room
- Not using entirely environmentally friendly cleaners
- Not washing laundry with cold water
- We don’t recycle our grey water. (Water that isn’t drinkable, but isn’t sewage)
Out of those actions, some of the ones that I can actively try to improve on are:
- Taking shorter showers
By working to be efficient with my time and getting everything that I need to do done in the shower rather than relaxing to much.
- Turning off lights and appliances when I leave a room
Making a conscious effort to shut off anything that can be turned off that uses electricity in our house whenever it isn’t in use
- Using public transit more often
Mustering the strength to get up earlier and get ready faster in the morning so that I have time to catch the bus, since there is a stop about 4 minutes away from my house walking distance.
- Washing laundry with cold water
Since I already do my own laundry, I can switch to using cold water rather than hot.
- Spending more than an hour a day on my computer
Using my time doing homework to the best of my abilities so that I’m not spending any more time than necessary on a screen.
Over the course of implementing these new changes, some were definitely easier than others. Things such as turning off lights, taking public transit, and changing my laundry water temperature were easy enough, as they only took little adjustments, that didn’t really throw off anything else in my day. As an example, changing hot water to cold water was literally as easy as pressing a button.
However, taking shorter showers and learning to budget my screen time were a little bit more difficult. Screen time was just a matter of staying organized, but showers are generally a place for me to just chill and daydream, so naturally I tend to lose track of time and get distracted. I managed to develop a fairly simple idea to help me shorten my shower. Before I got into the shower, I would set my phone with a two minute timer on the other side of the room with the most obnoxious alarm I could find. That way, I would get jolted out of my warm steamy daze by a blaring klaxon, or a clanging bell. Regardless of how frustrating it was, I began to dread the noise so much that I would manage to get out of the shower in time to turn it off. If it works it works!
Some of the obstacles I encountered were generally forgetting about the assignment. As easy as some of the little things were, I found that they are easily overlooked, which is very similar to why they aren’t thought about a lot in the first place.
Overall, I found this project really helpful and engaging, as it raised my awareness about some of the little steps that I could take for the sake of the environment while actually forcing me to do something about it. Because of this project I’ve actually changed some of my everyday habits and it’s absolutely for the better.
In the future I would like to knock down my ecological footprint even more by learning how to recycle motor oil, and looking into more environmentally friendly household cleaning products, as these are two steps that aren’t necessarily simple, but do have a big impact on the world at large.