What is Ecological Footprint and Ways to Reduce it


Ecological footprint is a terminology that attempts to gauge the extent of human impact on the earth’s ecosystems. There are many ways humans deplete environment capital just from our basic lifestyles to resource exploitation, environmental degradation, and pollution. As our consumption increases due to overpopulation, it is important for us to measure nature’s capacity to meet these demands on our planet. The measurements of these effects combined, that is, the rate at which natural capital is depleted and degraded in comparison to the earth’s ecological system to regenerate them defines the meaning of ecological footprint.

The ecological footprint, therefore, has become one of leading measures of human demand on nature and allows us to calculate human pressure on the planet. Per se, ecological footprint is measured by looking at the amount of natural habitats or natural resources such as timber, fish, minerals, and fossil fuel consumed by man every year. This is done by approximating the natural habitat areas of both the oceans and the lands required to provide resources to human populations. Globally, ecological footprint is employed to assess how rapidly mankind is depleting natural resources by estimating how the planet consumes products from nature. The measurements can be done at city, country, and international levels.

As per EarthDay,

The Ecological Footprint is a resource accounting tool that measures how much biologically productive land and sea is used by a given population or activity, and compares this to how much land and sea is available. The Ecological Footprint measures the sum of these areas, wherever they physically occur on the planet. The Ecological Footprint is used widely as a management and communication tool by governments, businesses, educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations.
Ecological footprint measures the amount of biologically productive land areas (forests, pastures, cropland and fisheries) humanity uses to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates, especially our carbon emissions. On the supply side, we have biocapacity that represents the amount of biologically productive land areas (forests, pastures, cropland and fisheries) and water available for human use. It excludes and excludes deserts, glaciers, and the open ocean. Basically ecological footprint measures how fast we consume resources and generate waste compared to how fast nature can absorb our waste and produce new resources.
By measuring the ecological footprint of a community, city, state, country or all of the humanity – we can asses the pressure on Mother Earth which helps us to consume resources and produce waste more wisely. Together we all can take collective actions to make this planet a sustainable one.

How to Reduce Ecological Footprint

It can be valuable if humans determine potential mechanisms for reducing ecological footprint so as to save the planet’s resources. For organizations and individuals, knowing the contributors to ecological footprint is the prime step for discovering the simple and most ordinary ways of doing so. Below are the major approaches for reducing the impact on earth’s ecosystem.

  1. Conserve Water
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There are several ways of conserving water including taking shorter showers, using water efficient appliances, fitting water efficient taps and showerheads, only wash when you have a full load, harvesting rainwater, and mulching the garden. This plays an active role in preventing water pollution and wastage that degrades water quality and reduces water quantity available for plant, human and animal use respectively.

  1. Save Energy and Lower Power Bills

Saving energy can reduce the general need for constant electric power regeneration by power plants that need the continuous exploitation of natural resources, especially fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. Hence, use of the various approaches to save electricity and lower bills such as switching off appliances and lights when not in use, purchasing green power, washing clothes in cold water, installing energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, and using natural lighting can tremendously reduce the overall ecological footprint.

  1. Buy Green Energy and use Clean Energy Sources

Installing and using clean energy sources such as solar power instead of depending on the regular power grid is a perfect method of reducing ecological footprint completely since it does not involve natural resource exploitation. Also, buying energy generated from green sources including wind, solar, biogas, geothermal, and hydropower lessens the ecological impacts realized from fossil fuel extraction that is often used in the conventional petroleum driven electric generation methods.

  1. Reduce Waste

Reducing waste through recycling and reusing materials such as plastic, metals, and paper among other materials as can help to reduce the natural resource degradation and depletion during the extraction of virgin resources. Basic individual initiatives in this category include buying products from recycled materials and those with the least amount of packaging.

  1. Travel Clean
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When possible ride a bike or walk instead of driving, especially in shorter distances. The use of public transportation, carpooling, and reducing air travel is also an impressive way of reducing ecological footprint because it reduces the number of vehicles on the road that eventually lessens the ecological impacts realized from petroleum and oil extraction. Besides, when buying a new car, you need to consider one with high fuel efficiency.

  1. Eat and Live Green

By eating green, it means growing your own food, buying produce sold locally, reducing meat intake, and buying organic produce. Growing own crops reduce food demands which frequently contribute to intensive agricultural practices negatively impacting ecological systems. Buying locally lessens petroleum use during transportation.

Reducing meat intake lessens the high amount of water used during meat processing. Organic crops are mainly produced by use of natural methods thus limiting ecological footprint. Living green inspires positive ecological conscious lifestyle that directly aids in reducing ecological footprint.

  1. Off-grid Living

Another way to reduce ecological footprint is to live off the grid. Living off the grid simply means living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on remote infrastructure such as electricity grid. Off the grid homes do not rely on electricity, sewer, natural gas, water supply or other similar utility services. They operate independently of all public utility services.

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce unnecessary waste by avoiding buying useless items. Buy only those items that can be easily recycled. Reuse items before you throw them in the garbage. For e.g. old clothes can be given to poor people or can be used to make cushion covers. Recycling conserves natural resources and help in a great way to preserve the environment. It can be easy and fun when you know how to do it. Whenever you go to supermarket, buy products that can be easily recycled.

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