Ecological Footprint Analysis: Calculations, Explanations, Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Simply going vegan for a few meals a week would substantially lessen my and most American's carbon footprint, without having to forgo animal products altogether. Given that more and more Americans are consuming animal products, and more individuals in the developing world are also consuming animal products, reducing this area of consumption is vitally important for the sustainability of the planet. It surprised me to learn that reducing meat consumption was such an important part of reducing one's ecological footprint, perhaps even more important than reducing one's consumption of fossil fuels through transportation. Buying a Prius has received substantially more praise in the media than reducing meat consumption.

But reducing meat consumption is not enough. Factory dairy production is also very taxing on the environment. Raising chickens for eggs and cows for milk production takes a great deal of the earth's resources. In the developing world, consumption of dairy has become a new part of the modern lifestyle. Finding new sources of calcium through non-dairy sources will be a critical part of sustainability in the future. Selecting eggs and milk from local rather than factory-farmed sources, as well as foregoing dairy products for some meals altogether is another important step in reducing one's ecological footprint. Although not quite as large a component of the ecological footprint, reducing consumption of imported fruits and vegetables and buying at farmer's markets can further reduce the food component of the ecological footprint.

Reducing the amount of trash we create is also important. The most obvious immediate way to reduce the amount of trash is to recycle. However, the ecological footprint program did not ask questions about trash. Instead, it asked simply how much trash the individual created. This may initially seem unfair, but upon reflection I believe there is a 'method' behind its madness, namely that an individual can recycle, but still generate a great deal of waste through overconsumption of resources. Goods were a major source of waste for all of us. Simply consuming less, not buying as much and reusing what we have, will save money as well as save the environment.

Shopping was a very important leisure activity for many of us, as well as a source of generating waste. All of us need to stop buying as many things as we do, and really ask ourselves, 'do we need this' every time we purchase a new item. To make the planet more sustainable, the developed world will need to reevaluate the way it puts a price on a good life and status. So much of how we value ourselves is tied up in how we look, and what types of new goods we can buy. But generating these types of appearances comes at a price, not just to our characters, but also to the planet earth.

Buying fewer goods and services would also have an impact on some of the other drains upon the environment. If we drove smaller, less flashy gas-guzzling cars, car-pooled, built smaller homes, and had smaller wardrobes, and had fewer steak dinners we would be able to create a more viable lifestyle in a holistic fashion. This would mean so much more than 'cutting corners' here and there, such as dropping a few more bottles into a recycling bin.

There are some things I am not wiling to give up. I question the value of not flying, since I think traveling to different countries is a great source of education, and can make people more broad-minded and care more about the planet, than simply focus on their own needs and what is going on in their own backyard. But I will try to make some small changes, as highlighted in this exercise.

Works Cited

Bittman, Mark. Rethinking the meat guzzler. The New York Times. January 27, 2008.

March…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Bittman, Mark. Rethinking the meat guzzler. The New York Times. January 27, 2008.

March 10, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html

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