Writer: Dilara Hamidi
Traces have always been the evidence of our existence since the dawn time of history. But, how much do we consume while leaving a trace? ‘Ecological footprint’ answers the question. The ecological footprint is a method developed to calculate the ecosystem balances that have been disrupted as a result of human activities and to determine the amount that should be restored to the ecosystem, which is used to measure our impact on the planet. In the simplest definition; how much of the biological capacity (soil, water, vegetation, etc.) we use to neutralize the effect that we create by consuming it in our environment indicates that we consume. That is a supply-demand balance between us and the ecosystem. Calculating our ecological footprint is of great importance because seeing concretely how much damage we are causing to nature encourages most people to want to use fewer resources and do studies that can contribute to the environment.
Every living being uses resources to live, and what disrupts the balance is that we use natural resources more than the limit of self-renewal. The production and consumption activities of industrialized societies operate with the understanding of rapid, large-scale production and distribution, which requires constant and uncontrolled demand from natural resources at specific times. In addition, the effects of urbanization, rapid population growth, and technological developments have also been added to production and consumption activities, and nature has begun to fall short of human demands and lose the balance of the ecosystem. Do you know, for instance, that we consume as if there were 1.7 worlds? Consequently, our resources are running out, biodiversity is decreasing, the planet is gradually warming, and extreme climate events are increasing; in short, the habitats of all living things are shrinking. When measuring the ecological footprint, there are different elements such as plant-based foods, fibrous foods, large and small cattle, seafood, forest products such as timber, and construction in the section demanded by humanity. All these are the resources that people demand from the world. While consuming these resources, we also need to contribute to the world and help our environment in order for the life cycle to continue as well as carry out studies that will contribute biologically to the soil, air, and water. Displaying the ecological footprint brings the problems mentioned above to the surface and allows us to see the rate at which we use resources, thus allowing us to reduce our consumption rate easily
So, we need to reduce our ecological footprint, but how? As mentioned earlier, we are facing energy problems these days. Our energy resources are running out and the energy sources we use are affecting the environment in a bad manner.
As a solution to these problems, you can start using renewable energy sources. If you have a sufficient budget and living conditions, using renewable energy sources will help you a lot in reducing your ecological footprint and managing sources effectively.
Another solution is recycling and reuse. Recycling helps conserve resources and reduces air and water pollution. It also saves space in our overcrowded landfills. The contribution of recycling to the environment is quite large. For example, the current recycling in the United Kingdom saves more than 18 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to removing 5 million cars off-road. It will be beneficial for our environment if we support recycling as much as possible. You can evaluate the waste that you cannot recycle with reuse.
Another solution is to change the vehicles we use for transportation. Our cars release many pollutants into the air and our oceans. If you have the opportunity to travel without a car such as riding bicycles or using public transportation, you could reduce your ecological footprint by as much as 45%. When you need to drive, consider grouping things together or using public transport. If you want to travel by car, switch to an electric vehicle. You will have done a great favor for the environment.
Remember that every redemption you make will reduce your environmental footprint, which will make a great contribution to the environment, the world, and, most importantly, the future. In order to leave a world with better conditions for future generations, we should be aware, and raise awareness of our surroundings as well. The future is in our hands!
5 Environmental Benefits of Sustainable. (2021, October 8). Transportation. https://transportation.ucla.edu/blog/5-environmental-benefits-sustainable-transportation
Why is recycling important? (n.d.). Veolia Nottinghamshire. https://www.veolia.co.uk/nottinghamshire/recycling/recycle-nottinghamshire/why-recycling-important