A very important part of WWF’s Living Planet 2018 report refers to the Ecological Footprint. What is the ecological footprint? We tell you more about this topic and how you can reduce it. Something that would positively affect the environment and save you a lot of money.
THE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT
It is an indicator of the environmental impact caused by the demand of people towards the resources of the planet’s ecosystems. The Ecological Footprint is related to the term “biocapacity” that refers to the ability of these ecosystems to renew after being used by humans. These two terms together establish an empirical basis (based on practice, experience and observation of the facts) to determine whether humanity is living within the limits of our planet.
According to the WWF Living Planet 2018 Report, “the Ecological Footprint measures human demand on nature, quantifying the biologically productive area required to meet all these demands, including food, fiber, wood, space for roads and constructions, and sequestration of carbon dioxide generated by the burning of fossil fuels. ”
THIS DEMAND COVERS 6 AREAS:
Grazing land footprint
Measures the demand for grazing land for livestock raising for the production of meat, milk, leather and wool.
Footprint of forest products
It measures the demand for forests to supply firewood, pulp and wood products.
Footprint of fishing areas
It measures the demand for marine and terrestrial aquatic ecosystems required to replenish fisheries and support aquaculture.
It measures the demand for land for food and fiber production, livestock feed, oilseed crops and rubber.
Urbanized land footprint
It measures the demand of biologically productive areas covered by transport infrastructure, housing and industrial structures.
Measures carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement production. These emissions become the forest area required to sequester emissions that are not absorbed by the oceans. It accounts for the variable rate of carbon sequestration of forests, depending on the degree of forest management, the type and age of the forest, the emissions of forest fires and soil loss.
The Ecological Footprint of each person varies, and is different due to the lifestyle and consumption pattern that it can have. This includes the amount of food, goods and services consumed, the natural resources used, and the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted to supply these goods and services. “The Ecological Footprint of each person at the national level allows us to discern where the world’s resources are being consumed.” Plus, it tries to measure the consequences of human consumption in the world.
It is important to keep in mind that “before the explosive growth of the population during the twentieth century, the rate of consumption of humanity was lower than the rate of renewal of the Earth.” Now, things have changed, the consumption rate is higher than the rate of renewal of the Earth.
WHAT TO DO TO REDUCE YOUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT?
Keep in mind that reducing your footprint will save you a lot of money. Below is a list of some ways to reduce it (taken from From Cavern to Stars). If you want to see more, visit this page where they explain 71 ways to reduce your Ecological Footprint.
- Use natural light whenever possible
- Use led bulbs (consume less electricity)
- You can reduce the electricity consumption generated by lighting from 700 kWh / year to just 150, saving more than $ 91.05 per year.
- Turn off the lights and the computer monitor when you leave the room.
- Do not open the refrigerator more than necessary, do not introduce hot food, defrost the food inside and adjust its temperature: 5 ºC fridge / -18 ºC freezer.
- It is the appliance that consumes the most electricity, because it is reducing the temperature inside it all day. When we open it, we increase the internal temperature. Freezing at that temperature for 48-72 hours is enough to kill most of the parasites that can contain meat and fish.
- Unplug the appliances. Leaving them connected can mean 6% of the electricity bill.
- Use the fire appropriate to the size of the pan or pot in which you are going to cook.
- Cover the pot so that the water boils before.
- Wash clothes with cold water whenever possible and with the right amount of detergent.
- Do not use a dryer 2.5 kg of carbon dioxide per load.
- Outdoors the clothes dry in a few hours in summer and in one or two days in winter. If it rains, you can put an awning to cover the clothes.
- Squeeze the fruit by hand.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator, you will be exercising your body.
- Close the refrigerator doors of supermarkets. If they don’t have them, ask them to put them.
- Choose companies that use renewable energy (photovoltaic solar, thermal solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal …).
- Fossil fuels are primarily responsible for the greenhouse effect, generate acid rain and multiple health problems; nuclear energy can be dangerous and produces radioactive waste that will last for tens of thousands of years; and agrofuels cause loss of biodiversity, land depletion and food shortages.
- Insulate walls, ceilings and floors.
- Use solar energy.
- Solar energy can supply the hot water and heating needs of a home.
- Lower the blinds and open the windows to circulate the air in summer and the use of air conditioning is not so necessary.
- Repair the faucets so they don’t drip – One drop per second equals 25 liters per day.
- Use rainwater.
- Have a domestic wastewater recycling system.
- Soaps all the dishes with the tap closed and then rinse.
- Take short showers and turn off the shower while soaping.
- Rinse the toothpaste with a glass.
- Do not pour oil, paint, solvent, etc. down the drain.
- Rinse the dishes under the tap as soon as you finish eating so that the food does not dry out and it is much easier and faster to scrub them.
- Try not to throw anything down the toilet.
“Ecological constructions significantly reduce the consumption of energy, water and materials through a location, design, construction, operation, maintenance and ecologically sensitive waste methods, that is, the complete life cycle of a construction. Passive solar heating, water saving devices, recycled materials and other ecological design devices can generate up to 30% energy savings, reduce carbon emissions by 35%, reduce water consumption by 30 and 50% and save between 50 and 90% in waste disposal costs ”. Taken from From Cavern to Stars.
- Prepare homemade food
- Have your own garden.
- The monoculture of large areas damages the soil and limits biodiversity. Reducing a food to a single variety of the same for its competitive advantages over other varieties means the possible loss of other varieties and even the food itself, if it were affected by a disease. By gardening, you can eat nearby, seasonal and pesticide-free foods and monoculture extensions are reduced. If you live in a city, you can grow in pots on the balconies, on the rooftops, in vertical fabrics on the wall or on rental land. You can learn to grow online or you can help with your garden to someone who teaches you and gives you part of the production. If you want to know another country, its language, its gastronomy, the customs of its people and learn to cultivate, a good option is volunteering on ecological farms, known as WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farms).
- Reduce meat consumption
- To produce a kilo of meat you need much more land, fertile soil and water than to produce a kilo of vegetables. In addition, many animals live in appalling conditions. People who limit the consumption of meat tend to eat more varied, because they add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and raw nuts without salt to the diet, so they have less risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Proteins are not a problem, since they only have to represent 15% of the diet and are achieved with high biological value by mixing legumes and cereals or eating eggs. If you decide to be vegan, remember to supplement with vitamin B12 to avoid dementia. Only foods enriched with B12, such as some breakfast cereals or beverages, animal foods and supplements contain this vitamin. It is produced by bacteria. There is controversy regarding its presence in certain types of algae. If you do not want to risk, better supplement. It is best to get tested for homocysteine or methylmalonic acid and not just for vitamin B12.
- Avoid single-use products (sorbets, plastic cutlery, plastic cups).
- Sell what you don’t want or donate it, don’t throw it away.
- Use biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning products. Vinegar and lemon are good brighteners and grease cleaners.
- Use electronic invoicing.
- Do not print what you do not need.
- Do not buy bottled water – It involves throwing millions of plastic bottles a day plus the CO2 produced by transport.
- Transport the purchase in reusable cloth bags.
- Plastic bags are the second most common type of waste found in international waters.
- Do not buy batteries. If you do, make them rechargeable. Do not throw them in the trash or boats in the environment.
- Use the bike or walk through the city
- The more bicycles in circulation, the safer it will be to travel for cyclists, the more the municipality will be pressured and the more possibilities there will be for others to imitate. Using the bicycle in medium distances allows us to perform the recommended physical exercise to maintain our health.
- Use public transport on long journeys. The more people use it, the more efficient it will be
- If there is no choice but to take the car, share it
- Use the engine oil recommended by the manufacturer, properly inflate the tires, turn off the engine when parking, check the exhaust pipe, the catalyst and spark plugs or heaters, avoid accelerations, circulate with long gears and low revolutions, reduce the weight and keep the injection system and oil filter clean.
- If you have a company, encourage the use of the bicycle among your employees by making them available, placing parking lots for them and installing showers in the company.
- Transport is the main cause of climate change: 20% of total CO2 emissions. Ecological cars do not exist: with the grain necessary to produce the fuel from a single tank of a sports car a person could be fed for a full year. Transport is the largest consumer of petroleum products; It is an important source of air pollution, causing the greenhouse effect and climate change. In addition, highways, roads, parking lots and tunnels imply the loss of thousands of hectares of land. Cars invade the streets, pollute the atmosphere, cause noise and reduce space for children to play freely.
Industries have managed to convert many public spaces into massive parking lots showing little respect for pedestrians. Streets serve as simple communication routes with very dense, exasperating and dangerous traffic. Cars emit half a kilo of CO2 for every liter of gasoline consumed, that is 20% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, the key greenhouse gas. In addition, they cause acid rain by emitting 34% of the nitrogen oxides discharged into the atmosphere. One billion liters of fuel could be saved per year if all journeys of less than 2 kilometers that are currently made by private car were made on foot.
With the use of the bicycle and efficient public transport, the car would become totally unnecessary. We could be saving on by not buying it, its fuel and insurance, considerably reducing traffic accidents, noise pollution and air pollution, which would result in fewer cases of cancer, asthma, leukemia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, paralysis, stress, irritability, etc.
Cities only account for 2% of the earth’s crust, but they concentrate 50% of the population. In them 75% of the energy is consumed and 80% of the CO2 is emitted. By modifying the cities, the problems derived from pollution would be considerably reduced. The best option for a better planet is to change our behavior.
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