Your Ecological Footprint

This week’s blog was written by Sierra R., a Bass alumni. She attended the Wildlife Leadership Academy this summer because it looked like a good opportunity to further her education and to give her a deeper look into different career fields. Sierra’s hobbies include hiking, nature journaling, Girl Scouts, and theater.

What is an ecological footprint?

Your ecological footprint is a measurement of how many earths (Global hectares or gha) it would take to sustain your lifestyle if everyone lived like you. It consists of six major components: Cropland, Forest land, Built-up land, Grazing land, Fishing grounds, and your Carbon Footprint. Sounds like a lot? Well finding out your ecological footprint isn’t as complicated as it may seem. There are many calculators that can give you a good estimate of what your personal ecological footprint is. Here is a link to the calculator we used in my science class: It’s only a few questions, so if you have 15 minutes give it a try.

Finding out your ecological footprint is the first step to creating a more sustainable lifestyle. Obviously, not everyone on earth lives like you, but that doesn’t mean that our individual lifestyles don’t take their toll on our natural resources. When a country or group of people has a higher per person ecological footprint than their biocapacity, the country runs a global deficit. According to Footprint Calculator, the average ecological footprint in the US during 2016 was around 8 gha and our biocapacity is 3.6; that makes our global deficit 4.6 gha. It wouldn’t hurt to be more mindful of our lifestyles, and it’s not as hard as one may think.

There are many little things you can do to lower your resource use. Sometimes it can be as easy as buying your fruits locally and in season instead of paying for fruits that were shipped from a foreign country. Lowering your single-use plastics is another great way to live more sustainably. Getting more efficient home appliances is another great idea, and it doesn’t have to be costly either. For example, If you’re planning to replace your light bulbs opt for an LED set; not only do they last longer, but they save you money on your electric bill too.

Tomatoes from my personal garden. Growing some of your own food is another good way to lower your footprint.

We only have one earth, and with a global average ecological footprint of 2.7 gha per person, it’s hard to say what it means for the future. Being more aware of your impact on the world certainly can’t hurt; you may be surprised at how high or low your footprint is.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.