Friday, February 18, 2011

Our Ecological Footprints

The Ecological Footprint movie we watched in class can be downloaded at the following link. You can either download the whole move, or do it scene by scene. Note that the movie at the link below has a short introduction and conclusion from the Environment Minister of Australia because the state of Victoria in Australia helped to fund the movie.

The following link will take you to a website at which you can calculate your own ecological footprint.

Follow the steps below and answer the questions as you work. 

1. Go to the site and select the United States as your location. Why do you think the site gives you different choices of countries and continents? Do you think ecological footprints the same or different in different locations?

2.  Before you begin, predict how many planets it takes to support your lifestyle.

3. When you get started you don’t have to put in your e-mail… just get started. You will have a choice between “Basic Information” and “Detailed Information.” Please select detailed information so you can get an idea of all the factors that go into your footprint.

4. Why do you think the types of meat and dairy foods you eat are important to your footprint?

5. You may not know where your food comes from… If you grow a garden or buy food at a farmers market, it is grown nearby. If you eat fruits and veggies in the winter in Chicago, that produce must have been grown far away. Why do you think the distance your food travels is important to your footprint?

6. Click on the different types of housing to see which is closest to the building in which you live. Why does the type of house or apartment you live in matter? 

7. Would having more people living in your household make your footprint bigger or smaller? Why?  

8. Here in Chicago, most of our energy does NOT come from renewable resources. Our homes are mostly heated with natural gas and our electricity comes mostly from burning coal and nuclear plants. Unless you have solar panels on your home or a wind turbine in your yard you use 0% renewable energy. Just estimate as well as you can when it asks you about how much your household spends on gas and electricity.

9. When you are answering questions about travel, keep in mind that it is about one mile between Armitage and Diversy or between Cicero and Pulaski. Big main streets in Chicago are about a mile apart. A typical large SUV gets about 13 miles per gallon (MPG) and a  small car such as a Honda Civic gets about 20 MPG. A hybrid Prius can get about 40 MPG.

10. Summarize your ecological footprint:
How many Earths?_____ How many acres? _____ Tons of carbon dioxide?_____
Roll over the pie chart to get % for Food ____ Shelter _____ Mobility _____ Goods ____ Services ______
Which 2 areas do you have the most control over? _____________________________________________

11. Explore the site for a few minutes and write about some actions you can take to reduce your footprint.  What is one action you are ready to take?

12. Please comment on your footprint in the comments section of this post.  Was your footprint more or less than you expected? What was most interesting about the questions on the quiz? What was most interesting or surprising about your results?  What changes do you think you will make? Please describe the experience of finding your environmental footprint. Sign your comment with your first name and last initial to get credit.


  1. My ecological footprint was not what i expected. I actually need twice as much Earths than i thought I needed. The most interesting was the appliances questions because I didn't even think that matter that much. The most surprising about my results were the amount of gas and electricity I use up. I will try and use my bike more and also to recycle often especially in my home.
    Jasmin Delgado Period 8

  2. My ecological footprint was less than the average american so im okay with it. by kiwane.t

  3. It was more than i had expected. The most interesting thing about the quiz was that it wanted to all the resources u use up if u took the bus the train or even how long did u drive for.My results were surprinsing id never think i would waste alot of resources by myself.
    Fernando. R

  4. my footprint was big i need 4.4 earths to me thats a lot some people need but i think i can do better like use less gas and eat less pork and reclye more eat better food and walk more and just use a lot less thing i dont need and use just czuse i can get it.
    Estrada A.

  5. Every thing is OK except services. I need to work on that to redueced it.

  6. My results wasn't what i expected it was way more. The most interesting quetion was when it asked me how many times i go on the plane. The most imteresting thing from my result was the services. I think im going to try to lower the services. The footprint thing was interesting to me and i wouldnt mind doing another on like this.

    Ashley T.

  7. Although my ecological footprint was less than the average American, I still want to reduce my footprint. I was expecting 2 Earth's if everyone lived the way I did. Instead, I got 4.3 Earth's. My results really did surprise me. I was shocked to find out that if people lived the way I did, I would waste the resources of more than 4 Earths. I think I will try to reduce what I can control: Food and Services.

    Axel R.

  8. our ecological foot was way diffrent than i expected i was real big on energy(ab) and i was big on mobilility(mw) but this activity was really interesting
    ab and mw

  9. My ecological footprint is what i expected even though i use 3.9 earths. It was a very interesting project because i seen how much reasorces i use up and how to change my lifestyle.-Samuel C