An ecological footprint is a gauge of how many resources you use. It is relatively easy to make a few small changes that will drastically reduce your ecological footprint, and if you are willing to invest more time and energy, you can reduce it even further. The first step to take is to figure out what your footprint is. Answering a short series of questions about your driving habits, source of food, garbage generation, and local area generates a rough estimate of how much land it takes to sustain you.
About 4.5 acres (about 18,211 square meters) of usable land are available to every human being on Earth, but in the United States, the average footprint is 24 acres (97,124.6 square meters). Clearly, there is a disparity between land usage and available resources. Many environmentalists believe that countries with more developed economies have an obligation to reduce their ecological footprints so that future generations will still have resources.
If you are interested in seeing how small changes make a difference, find a quiz online and answer it with your normal living habits and take note of the result. Then make small changes in your answers: say that you take public transit more often, generate less garbage than your neighbors, or source more of your food locally. The result will be smaller at the end of the quiz, directly showing you how small changes can affect your resource use.
One of the main ways to reduce your ecological footprint is to change the way you use energy. If you rent your home, try purchasing energy efficient light bulbs, and remember to turn off electronic devices when you are not using them. If you own your appliances, think about purchasing a gas stove, a more efficient fridge, or an on-demand hot water heater. High efficiency washers and dryers can also help to reduce the amount of energy you use and make your utility bills cheaper. If you own your home, seek out alternative energy sources like solar panels and windmills.
To reduce your footprint away from home, think about how you get from here to there. Use public transit more, or ride a bicycle when the trip is short. Try walking instead of driving. Buy food produced locally to reduce the amount of energy wasted transporting it from distant locations to the supermarket. In addition to being better for the environment, buying local food also supports the local economy.
Reducing the amount of resources you use can also be greatly assisted by the three R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Try to reduce the amount of resources you use by purchasing items with minimal packaging, and don't buy things that you won't use. Reuse empty containers, take advantage of thrift stores, and find creative ways to bring new life to old belongings. Recycle unwanted items, either in curbside recycling or in the form of donations to thrift stores.
To reduce your ecological footprint even further, think about more extreme lifestyle changes. Live in a smaller house, or share the space in your home with more people. Change your diet: animal products are far less efficient than plant products and require far more energy to produce. You can fly less often as well, as commercial airplanes are a huge source of the carbon emissions that are damaging the environment. Start growing a garden, and encourage others to do the same.
Whether you make small or large changes, they will all make a difference. Showing other citizens how easy it is will also encourage people to explore ways to reduce their own ecological footprints, and lead to less consumption in general. While it might seem difficult at first, your changes will make a positive difference in the total amount of resources available on Earth, and will make human life more sustainable.