After the long, but helpful, survey, I found out that my ecological footprint is 7.45 hectares. I found that my number was relatively average compared to my peers. It wasn’t the lowest number, yet it also wasn’t the highest. However, considering for just one 15-year-old girl, this number still seemed to be a bit extravagant. I’ve thought it through and I came up with the ten most prominent reasons why my ecological footprint is so large.
The main one is the foods I’ve been eating. Since I am not vegetarian, I do eat meant basically everyday of the week and most of it isn’t locally grown because it is more pricey than regular meat. Another one of the bigger ones was transportation. I have a lot of extra curricular that I get a ride to and this greatly impacted my footprint. This directly connects to the ‘fun’ portion of the survey. The extra curricular I do takes place in a lot of different locations the land area that I use takes up a lot of space and equipment. As well as I spend a lot of time looking at a screen (homework, pass time, communication etc.)
These are the big factors that contributed to my footprint but there are smaller details that also created a dent. Things such as I take 5-10-minute showers and not all my appliances are water saving, or that I produce a good amount of trash on a regular basis (wrappers, papers, organic waste, hygiene products). To add on to trash, I’m not very aware of avoiding disposable items. I’m a messy persona t times, and I happen to throw things around and when I lose them I just get new ones. Examples of this are, lined paper, pens, earbuds, pop cans etc. As well as, around half of my clothes is store bought and the rest are hand me downs. Something else is that I live in a three-story house and there are only 5 people living in it, meaning there’s a lot of empty space.
After seeing how much space that I take up, I wanted to make some changes. I set up these five actions that I could take to make this number smaller. One of which is trying to eat locally. This will mean that this is a change for my whole family; However, changing this will greatly change my ecological footprint. This will be difficult because of the price of locally grown meat is more expensive than regular meat. Something that is easier to change is the transportation aspect. I will try to bus or walk to more of my extra curriculars to cut down on using my family car as much. This will change my footprint because I spend a lot of time afterschool in my car when I could simply walk or take public transportation. I feel that this one is especially important because its such an easy fix that could create a very big impact.
There are also some smaller things that I would like to change. For example, the one that I’m going to be very aware of is my screen time. I want to try to spend a max of 2 hours looking straight into a screen. Because of the homework I have, and the current society I live in, it is unrealistic to say I will limit it to 2 hours. My goal is to between every hour, I will take a 30 min break from blue light. Though this won’t do a big change to my ecological footprint (using the handout we got as reference), it’ll still cut down my screen time and is better for my health. Another thing that I want to change links right back to my In-Depth which is upcycling clothing and sewing. Rather than going out and buying new clothes, I can take old hand me downs, or thrifted clothes and upcycle it into something new. This will cut back the money and resources I spend to get brand new clothing when it’s unnecessary.
Last but not least, I will be more aware of the disposable items that I use. I’m going to cut back on the pop cans that I buy and become more organized, so I don’t lose things like pens, and constantly need new sheets of lined paper. This will help me create less trash, improve my overall health, and work on my organization skills.
After around a month of these changes, I found that some of these actions were hard to commit to; However, others were very simple changes that made a big difference. One of the biggest ones that were easy was transportation. I started to take the bus to my extra curricular that were nearby, no matter the weather. This increased my physical movement and cut down on the amount of time I spent in my family car. Sometimes when the weather was nice I would walk.
Something else that I changed that I liked was avoiding disposable items. I cut down on my pop drinks intake and didn’t buy as much fast food. The best part was I avoided plastics when I could. I’ve switched to bar shampoo (to avoid the plastic) and I’m more aware of categorizing my garbage (compost, recycling, trash, glass etc.) This change made me feel better as a person because though this was small, it was a noticeable change. On Wednesdays when I would take the trash out, I realized how much my trash decreased and this gave me a wave of joy to know that I was making a change.
The next change was related to my clothing. This one just so happened to link right back to my In-Depth which is sewing and up cycling clothing. During the month in which I was trying to cut down my ecological footprint, I didn’t buy one new piece of clothing. All the clothes I bought/got were either thrifted and uplifted, or an upcycle of a piece of clothing I already had. This saved me money and allowed me to get clothing that I knew I liked because I ‘designed’ it.
Up till here, the changes I made were small, easy, and impactful. However, the last two changes were a little bit harder. One of the two is screen time. I said I would try to cut down on my screen time, but I didn’t stay true to my word. At first, I did well and didn’t spend much time looking at a screen. However, I started to have to use a screen to communicate, do work, and occasionally waste my time. I would tell myself I had to stop after an hour, but I always lost track of time or just disregarded the rule. This change was majorly based on self control that I haven’t fully grasped yet. Even if I didn’t achieve my goal, my screen time has cut down a little bit though.
The final and hardest change to try to achieve was buying local foods. Plants such as vegetables and fruit were easy to access. In fact, I even had some planted in my backyard. However, when it came to meat, it was a bit more of a struggle. Not only would it be more expensive, it was harder to find. And to find meat without preservatives, to be local, and within my family’s budget, it was just unrealistic to achieve. Luckily though, I was able to influence my mom to buy more locally grown and fresh vegetables and fruits which is better than nothing.
Overall, I think I have made a difference in my lifestyle and some of these changes will stick. For example, I will be more aware of disposable items, and I will take more public transit. I will keep an eye out for local foods with no preservatives or pesticides and be warier when it comes to buying brand new clothes. I will continue to work towards less screen time. As for the meat aspect, maybe I’ll go vegetarian, who knows?