As our business explores the concept and principles of One Planet Living, it is important to understand the science behind the strategy – ecological footprint. Ecological footprint is the only metric that measures the demand we put on nature, and what nature can give us in return. In other words, it measures how fast we consume resources and generate waste in comparison to how fast nature can absorb our waste and generate new resources for us to use.
The unit of ecological footprint is the global hectare, which is defined as the biologically productive area needed to provide everything we consume. Currently, our planet has approximately 1.7 global hectares available per person. One more term to get to grips with is biocapacity, which represents the productivity of ecological resources, including farmland, grazing land, forests, and fishing grounds. If left alone, these areas can absorb a lot of the waste we generate, especially carbon emissions. What happens then if our demand on nature exceeds supply (biocapacity)? We would run an ecological deficit which means that our demand on natural resources exceeds what nature can give us, the effects of which are already evident, such as our collapsing fish stocks.
All of the above lifestyle choices has an impact on the environment, and as a result, our ecological footprint.
Making small changes in our daily lives can significantly lower our footprint such as:
1. Choosing to eat a vegetarian meal once a week (remember meat free Mondays?)
2. Buying food from local farmers markets, avoiding heavily processed foods, and ensuring that our purchases are packaging-free where possible.
3. Investigating solar alternatives for electricity supply.
4. Carpooling and use of public transport where possible.
5. Reduce, reuse and recycle to lower the amount of waste sent to landfill.
Curious as to how many planets we would need if we all lived like you? Calculate your ecological footprint here and start being the change our planet is so desperately needing.
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