How many Earths would we need if we all lived like you?
- The Footprint Calculator offers a reality check on the consequences of our actions – ecologically
Did you ever wonder what your individual impact on the earth’s finite resources was? Are you an environmental skeptic or proud of your sustainable lifestyle? A little self-awareness of your ‘ecological footprint’ can go a long way. In simple terms, your ecological footprint measures how much you take from nature and compares it to the amount of natural resources that the earth can renew. This includes the amount of land and resources, as well as products and services required to support your lifestyle.
I first used the Footprint Calculator in 2007 when I was much younger, fresh out of college and still living with my parents. I genuinely wanted to check if my lifestyle was sustainable at the time and was disappointed to learn that if everyone in the world lived like me, we would need 1.4 Earths. Since then the tool has updated its data and methodology, and when I redid the calculation in 2019 the result was 1.6 Earths! Even though I work in the field of sustainability, my lifestyle includes living in a city, eating meat, driving a car, and taking multiple flights per year which all add up. Just knowing some of the contributing factors can allow you to make more informed decisions about what and how you consume.
‘if everyone in the world lived like me, we would need 1.6 Earths!’
There are several resources available online (including the one mentioned above) that help to calculate or estimate your footprint based on the responses you provide. In a short time of 5-7 minutes (or slightly longer depending on how much detail you provide), you can get your own results and possible solutions to help you lessen your impacts. Try it out for yourself – the results will definitely surprise you.
Individual choices and efforts can make a difference for sure, but don’t feel too bad or guilty if the result of your calculation was worse than you expected, you can always work on improving it. Some of the most serious environmental problems are too daunting for individuals to solve. Sustainable development requires strong action by governments and policy makers at the national and international level.
‘don’t feel too bad or guilty if the result of your calculation was worse than you expected, you can always work on improving it.’
Zarir manages business and partnerships at the Centre for Social and Environmental Innovation (CSEI) at ATREE, and has a decade of experience in the sustainability space. He also really enjoys tea, Lego, and playing football and basketball.