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How Much Do You Waste?: Counting on Your Ecological Footprint

Written by Amaranila Nariswari, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Does the term ‘Ecological Footprint’ ring a bell to you? I bet it doesn’t. But I am sure some of you have heard about carbon footprints already, right? If you haven’t, let me help you: a carbon footprint refers to the number of gaseous emissions emitted concerning human production and/or consumption activities (Pertsova, 2007). It measures the number of greenhouse gasses produced and their impact on the environment. Carbon footprints are one of the fastest-growing portions of the ecological footprint. In fact, it is 54% of the total ecological footprints.

Now, what is the ecological footprint? The ecological footprint is the measurement of our impact on the ecosystem. It measures the supply and demand of goods and services related to our lifestyle (Samanthi, 2011). Interestingly, this ecological footprint counts the area of land and sea needed to support human activities, including the areas required to assimilate your waste. Hey, before we proceed, I dare you to count your footprint now! These days, you can find many websites providing ways to calculate your footprint, and one of them is https://www.footprintcalculator.org/home/en.

Suppose you went through several websites to count your ecological footprint. In that case, you can see that the questions they asked are mostly related to your diet, housing, energies, trash, and transportation you used. You might think, “Ooh, those developed countries use green energies. Their ecological footprints must be smaller than ours in developing countries!” Well, guess what? Some of the highest ecological footprint producers are those industrial countries like the United States of America (USA), China, and European and Middle-East countries. In contrast, underdeveloped countries like Congo and Central African Republic relatively produce smaller footprints compared to other countries (Global Footprint Network, 2022).

However, you might still be shocked after noticing how big your ecological footprints are, right? Eventually, we are all responsible for our own lifestyle and activities, and this might be the sign for you to start reducing your footprint. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Choose your protein wisely!

The first questions asked when you count your ecological footprint are mostly about your diet and, to be more specific, your animal-based menu. You might wonder, “how does eating beef and chicken have any correlation to climate change?”, surprise surprise, did you know that one of the most prominent feeds for livestock is soybean cake? Soybean cakes are mostly produced in the USA, Brazil, and Argentina. The high demand for it drives the commodity producers to open up spaces for soybean planting. One of the fastest ways to clear up areas is through deforestation. Not only deforestation, but turning soybeans into soybean cake also requires a lot of mechanical energy that produces pollution, and don’t forget the carbon they made to deliver their products.

I know beef, chickens, and lambs all taste heavenly, and I, too, couldn’t live without them, but it’s good to reconsider our diet. There are a lot of delicious protein sources we can consider putting on our menu, like eggs. You can cook different kinds of eggs, scrambled eggs like those served in hotels? Yum. Sunny-side up with a hint of crispness on its edge? Double yum, man, I can go forever just talking about eggs! But my point is, you can eat meat, as long as you consume it responsibly. And of course, eat more veggies, duh! We thrive for a more balanced-life, alright?

  1. Consume local foods, protect small and medium business

If you’re looking for simple everyday cooking foodstuffs, shopping for imported groceries in large fancy supermarkets doesn’t necessarily guarantee you to live a healthy lifestyle. Sure, their products look pretty and… organic. Still, the carbon produced from transporting those goods is a LOT, which is not-so-friendly for the environment. If you go to your local traditional market early in the morning, you can get the same products like the ones displayed in those fancy-glamorous grocery stores at the mall, and the plus point is it’s way cheaper. If you’re not sure whether the products in the market are clean and organic enough, you can always grow them yourself, like creating a hydroponic garden and raising chickens, why not?

Anyway, this doesn’t only apply to your groceries, but your lifestyle in general. When we shop in the mall, we see clothes, bags, and shoes displayed prettily. Those are probably coming from big shops famous internationally. If you noticed, though, local brands’ stuff is just as good as theirs. Sometimes, they produce their products through local people’s empowerment, making it even better. All you have to do is scroll past your social media pages and see which local brands have their products that suit you the most!

  1. Turn the electricity off when it’s not in use

This tip might be cliché, but this one is… we can say, the basic rule of reducing our energy consumption. Anyway, believe it or not, if you turn on your lamp 24/7, your room gets hotter instead of when you turn it off during the day. It goes the same when you turn your air conditioner on all the time. The moment you turn it off, you will feel hot, but when you turn it off in the morning and open your window, your room adjusts to the temperature, so in the afternoon, you won’t feel like you’ve been put in an oven. Besides, reducing your energy consumption means reducing the electricity bill you have to pay, and voila, a win-win solution. 

Managing our ecological footprint might sound easier to read than done, and it’s okay. What is not okay is knowing that you contributed a lot to ecological waste and did not bother to bat an eye. This planet earth is not yours. It’s ours. We share it with other living beings, and each one of us deserves to live in a clean and healthy environment.

References

Global Footprint Network. (2022). Reserve/Deficit Trends. Global Footprint Network. Retrieved from https://data.footprintnetwork.org/#/ 

Pertsova, C. (2007). Ecological Economics Research Trends. New York, United States: Nova Sciences Publishers, Inc.

Samanthi. (2011). Difference Between Ecological Footprint and Carbon Footprint. DifferenceBetween. Retrieved from https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-ecological-footprint-and-vs-carbon-footprint/#:~:text=The%20key%20difference%20between%20ecological,units%20of%20carbon%20dioxide%20equivalents.