Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Our Ecological Footprint

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.

You can learn more about how the Ecological Footprint idea got started by watching all or part of the movie at the following link.


  1. My footprint was less than I expected because I knew I wouldn't be using too much electricity or by the most update products. The most interesting question on the quiz was the summary of my ecological footprint. The most surprising was how many Earths would it take if people lived like me. The change I would make is to use public transportation. At first, I thought it would at least take three Earths for people to live like me but instead it took 4.1 Earths. I use more service than goods and I thought I should change the way I travel. I think if I want to save the Earth from being destroyed, I should think of ways to change myself and the world.

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  3. My footprint was less than i expected i would have thought it was going to be more maybe about 4 to 5 planet earths to provide enough resource for the amount of electricity i use but instead it was 3.7 planets. i think an interesting question was about the siding of our homes in the beginning i thought i didn't make any sense but after i went over the rest of the questions i realized it matters because its still a part of how were living. The change i am willing to make is turning off my lights when their not in use and i will try to unplug appliances that are not necessary. Stephanie A

  4. Eduardo Sandoval

    My footprint was less than i imagine because all the questions asked me about the things i do and how much things i eat and i knew i haven't been eating allot of products that come from package's the interesting question on the quiz they ask me is about transportation i usually ride my back not ever were only to school the surprising thing about my result was about how many planets earth i would need to support my lifestyle if everyone live like me i predicted 12 planet earths but i nee by this footprints i d 4.6 planet earth but f i make a change to my footprint i wold only need 4.1 it will only change if i purchase products by getting less packaging or were made out of 100% post consumer recycled content material i always though i was not helping the earth but by me looking at this footprints i realist that am saving the earth with out me not noticing it bu t just cause i no am helping the earth am not going to stop am going to help more by getting in communities that help our planet earth.

  5. Cynthia Jimenez

    The ecological footprint activity was an estimate of the impact I have on the planet. My hypothesis on the amount of land I take with my life style was five Earths. According to the quiz I take up 4.5 Earth, which was fairly close to my hypothesis. The quiz was a wake up call to change the way I'm living and mistreating our planet Earth.Personally, I knew if I change and/or restrain my daily ways that can make a difference in the world but the activity helped as a way to remind me of my affect on the earth. Not only did the activity sum up my results but provided ways I can help the earth. From now on I pledge to shop at Farmers Markets if I buy any food, consume very small or no packaged goods, use my bike more often, but most importantly always seek ways to improve and minimize my ecological footprint