Adam Crespi Environmental Science 9 April 20th, 2019
From completing the ecological footprint sheet I discovered my ecological footprint was 3.362 hectares. I was immediately happy with this result as it was extremely low compared to my peers who averaged around 6-7 hectares. Natasha got 6.5, Grace got 5.4, and Joon got 7.89 hectares. Because of how much lower mine actually was, I became doubtful and by double checking my numbers I realized that I inputted the wrong number on the square meterage of my house which threw off the total greatly. After recalculating I came to the new number of 5.62 hectares which seems far more realistic to my life.
10 of the largest contributors to my footprint are :
-eating large amounts of meat
-private vehicular travel
-pre-packaged items and trash
-reduce the usage of packaged items
-sports fields for physical activity
-non local food
-ratio of living space size to people
Five improvements I hope to make for the maximum reduction of my ecological footprint are: reducing water usage, eating less meat, reducing garbage, reducing vehicle emissions, and buying locally grown food.
- Reducing Water Use
- The first step I will take to reduce my ecological footprint, will be to reduce my water use. A bad habit of mine is showering for longer periods of time as I enjoy relaxing after a long day and this can end up wasting valuable water. To reduce this impact I will slowly decrease the length of my showers until they are under two minutes. As the average American shower uses 7.9 liters per minute, I will end up saving around 25 liters of water which would save money and help conserve water (1).
- Another step I will take to reduce my water use is to only run the dishwasher or washing machine when it is completely full. Only running these machines when they are full will allow me to simply run it less and save water. I have never really put thought into this and I hope that making a conscious effort will reduce my household water usage.
2. Eating Less Meat
- Another step I will take to reduce my ecological footprint will be to limit the amount of meat I consume on a daily basis. As my family is Italian, we tend to eat a lot of meat every day. For almost every dinner the main dish is or contains meat and this adds up overtime, resulting in detrimental effects on the environment and a lot of money being spent. By simply talking to my family and replacing meat dishes with vegetables or other sources of protein one or two nights a week, I will be saving money and helping the environment.
3. Reducing Garbage and Waste
- Another step that will be extremely beneficial in reducing my environmental footprint is to purchase less individually packaged items and minimize the amount of trash I produce. This will be done at the supermarket and in everyday purchases where I will choose to buy bulk containers rather than individual packages. Minimizing the amount of trash my family and I output is a straightforward and simple way of reducing our contributions to landfills and global pollution.
4. Reducing Vehicle Emissions
- Everyday motor vehicle emissions add up and become a large detriment to our planet’s health. I will take a step in reducing this part of my ecological footprint by using public transit services more often and making a stronger effort to carpool with friends. By taking transit more often and carpooling I will be limiting the greenhouse gas emissions created by private vehicles that often only carry one or two people. Having more people on the bus in or the car is more fuel efficient and saves money as well as doing a small part to reduce my ecological footprint. If the weather agrees I will also attempt to bike and walk more to get from destination to destination.
5. Reducing Food Impact
- The last step I will take to reduce my ecological footprint will be to work on buying food locally. By buying food grown outside of North America, I am increasing my ecological footprint because of the large amount of greenhouse gases and pollution released from constant international transport. Although these foreign groceries may sometimes be cheaper and available all year-round, the costs certainly outweigh the benefits (2). To buy more local food I hope to shop more at local farmers markets or search for locally grown items at the grocery store.
In the coming weeks I hope to implement all of these steps into my daily life to of reduce my ecological footprint. These steps are everyday things that are easy for me to change and although the impact may not be great alone, if everybody were to try this for themselves our world could be a much more enjoyable place. I am happy to play any miniscule part in diminishing the harmful impact humans are creating on our earth.
After implementing these changes throughout the past few weeks I have found a good deal of success. The easiest change I made was simply bussing more and getting fewer rides in private vehicles. I actually found it enjoyable to take public transit more often as it allows me to play with the freedom I have getting older and to simply relax on longer rides. In the pleasant weather we have had for the past week especially, I have been walking and biking to get from destination to destination.
Another easy change for me to make was to reducing the length of my showers. The difficulty of this surprised me as I assumed it would be one of the most difficult changes to make. This was not the case and by easily setting a timer on my phone outside of the shower, I managed to get the length of my showers down to 4 minutes which is a great improvement. I believe this was easy for me as I realized how much time I was actually wasting in the shower.
A more difficult change for me to make was reducing my garbage and waste. Although I found some success in buying fewer pre packaged goods, it was a challenge as I do not purchase most of my families food. In the past few weeks I have been especially busy and this hasn’t left me any time to shop with my mother to buy groceries. I did speak to her about reducing our footprint but the result could have been greater if I was there. Other than this it was successful. Related to this, buying more local foods was also difficult. Due to my busy schedule I was unable to go grocery shopping with my mother and work towards eating more locally grown food for my entire family.
I also struggled in reducing the amount of meat I consume, as it has become such an intrinsic part of my diet. I am so used to eating meat with every meal that it has become habit and although I improved slightly, I could have put far more effort into reducing the amount of meat I consume and breaking the habit.
Throughout the process of making these improvements I ran into a few small obstacles but none of which made much of an impact. One impediment that kept showing up was forgetfulness of my new habits. Over the past three weeks there have been quite a few times where I have simply forgotten to hold off on running the washing machine or to not purchase an item of food with extensive packaging. Because I have only been working on this for a few weeks it has not all been cemented into my brain. I am sure that I will improve on this in time.
Overall, the greatest obstacle I found myself faced with was simply an absence of time to take on the larger improvements. For most improvements I was attempting to make there were simple and small tasks to complete but for the larger improvements, such as changing my diet, were much more challenging and time consuming. I often found myself in situations where it was far easier to make the non-eco friendly choice and I had to put in the extra effort to help the environment. I believe that putting in extra effort to be eco-friendly is something that drives many people away from the idea.
In the future I hope to continue applying these techniques I have learned as they have resulted in reducing my ecological footprint and other unexpected benefits. In the past three weeks I have spent significantly less money on a daily basis, wasted less time in the shower, and gotten more exercise walking. Although I may not apply all these steps on a daily basis going forward, I now have a more informed view on issues affecting my ecological footprint and how I can reduce it with small, everyday decisions.