Ecological Footprint

Water use: 95

Clothing: 125

Stuff: 38

Shelter: -10

Transportation: 300

Fun: 130

Food: 135

Total: 8.13 hectares

My plan

My total score for my ecological footprint was 8.13 hectares. Compared to Leah’s (7.25), Jerome’s (8.35), Kimi’s (12.4), and Elaine’s (7.45), I think I am around the average mark. However, this does not mean that I thought the number shouldn’t be lower. When I first completed my calculations, I thought I must have made a mistake. 8.13 hectares! That’s a really large area! However, upon asking around, I found out that others had similar numbers. It seems illogical to me that one person could occupy that much space. So below are ten of the things that made the biggest impact on my total.

  1. Taking showers longer than 10 minutes 
  2. Producing a shoebox full of garbage every day
  3. Travelling with my family in a car
  4. Spending more than one hour per day in a vehicle
  5. Using a medium sized car most often
  6. Owning two separate cars
  7. Spending more than one hour on a screen
  8. Eating some food grown elsewhere
  9. Eating some foods grown with pesticides 
  10. Hardly wearing 1/2 of the clothes that I own

Before completing this package, I had no idea how much my everyday actions were impacting the way I live and the space I occupy. I decided that I would attempt to change seven of the above contributors. The ones I chose were: 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10. I chose these because they seemed the most possible. The others were all surrounding travel. I take pubic transit as much as possible, but I have extracurriculars that require me to be taken by car, wether that be because of a time crunch, too far of a distance, or there just aren’t any transit lines near where I need to go. 

I chose number one because I often take long showers, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes (depending on how tired I am). I also often listen to music in the shower, which probably contributes to the amount of time spent. I decided that the best thing to do to make sure I don’t spend too long in the shower is to set an alarm that will stop my music after seven minutes. The goal is that I will become so annoyed or so bored that I will get out of the shower. 

I chose number two because I recently did some research on the effects that trash and landfills have on the planet and was extremely surprised (not in a good way). I collected the amount of trash I produced in one day and found that it barely fit in a shoebox. I asked my parents to buy less non compostable packages with their products (food, clothes, etc), I bought a reusable straw and cup, and I made separate boxes for our recycling, compost and garbage to be put in each room. However, I have yet to implement any of these strategies. 

I chose number five because I am often driven to activities in my moms car, which is a medium sized car. This is usually because my dad (who has a small car) isn’t home, but sometimes both cars are I the garage and we decide to take the bigger one for basically no reason. I am going to try to get my dad to drive me more often, or to get my mom to drive me but in my dads car.

I chose number seven because I spend a lot of time on screens. Wether it be for homework, free time or just checking the time, not an hour goes by where I don’t look at my phone some how. I have a few camping trips coming up where I won’t be taking my phone, so I think this would be a good time to start slowly reducing the amount of time I spend staring at a screen. Obviously, I have to complete my homework. However, during my free time I could read a book, or take a walk.

I chose number eight and nine because l feel like they would be fairly easy to do, and also extremely beneficial to my health. My mom eats mostly organic foods and does not easy any food produced with pesticides, so I can match up my diet with hers for a few weeks and see how much that positively affects my footprint and my health.

I chose number 10 because, when I recently went down to Seattle to go shopping with my family, I bought a lot of clothes. Once I got home, I realized that I barely had any room in my closet! I decided I needed to sort through my clothes and I make piles of clothes I wear often, clothes I haven’t worn in a while but wear sometimes, and clothes I forgot I even owned. I am planning on donating the pile of clothes that I don’t  want or that don’t fit to a non profit organization. 

Reflection

The easiest for me to implement were number 5, 8, 9 and 10. Number eight and nine were surprisingly easy for me to do. I completely cut out pesticides from my diet for a month, and I only ate organic foods for a week and a half. I feel like this was easy because of my moms diet. Since she eats all organ aid and pesticide free foods, it was much easier for me to follow. I think that if she didn’t eat like that, it would be a lot harder as I would have to buy, learn how to cook and become used to all new foods. 

Number ten was easy for me because I enjoy sorting and organizing things. I organized my whole closet and donated any clothes I didn’t need to the Salvation Army. I also gathered a few things from around the house that aren’t used, and I even brought a few cans of food with me.

The hardest for me to implement were number 1, 2 and 7. Number one was hard for me as it was a big change to suddenly cut my showering time in more than half. I decided the best thing to do would be to start off by taking a really short, two minute shower to get used to the idea. However, I realized quickly that I would need more than two minutes to wash my hair. Once I got out of the shower, it had been nine and a half minutes. An improvement, but not a big one. Over the next few weeks, I managed to shorten my time to six minutes if I use less conditioner (less to wash out). 

Number 2 was hard because of all of the garbage needed to make a single meal. I started going shopping with my parents and making sure they bought in bulk to reduce packaging. I also bought a package of five reusable straws, one for everyone in my family (and an extra just in case). I realized how many of the things I buy are individually packaged, so I started to buy less things such as granola bars to snack on and more things like big boxes of crackers. After three weeks, I still could not fit everything into a cup. The shoebox was only half full, but the cup overflowed. 

Number seven was probably the hardest for me. I calculated that, in an average day, I spend five hours on my phone. I managed to cut that time in half for some days, but once again, homework isn’t something you can get rid of. I read three books over the past month in my free time (they took me around two hours each, so that greatly reduced my screen time). I only spent more than five hours on a screen once, and the vast majority of it was spent working on a PowerPoint presentation.

Some of the obstacles I encountered were my dad not being home for two weeks (therefore his smaller car wasn’t there). I had to use my moms car, which is a four door, eight seat car. Another obstacle I encountered was having a lot of projects and assignments that required a device. This increased my screen usage significantly. The last big obstacle I encountered was losing track of time. While trying to take a short shower, I would sometimes be lost in thought and not realize that my music had gone off (the signal for me to get out of the shower). This caused me to stay in for a minute or two longer than I should have once in a while.

In the future, I am hoping to do multiple things. I will continue to take shorter showers as much as possible, I will buy in bulk more often to reduce packaging, I will try to use my dads car more often than my moms (and use transit as much as possible), I will stay off my phone (for the most part) during my free time, I will continue to not eat pesticides and avoid non organic foods as much as I can, and I will collect old clothes and “stuff” from my family to donate to the Salvation Army.

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