After completing the ecological footprint worksheet, I discovered that my ecological footprint was 3.7 hectares. I was happy about this result because compared to my peers, I got one of the lowest scores. My peer’s ecological footprints were: Kellen got 11.462 hectares, Adam got 5.62 hectares and Joon got 7.89 hectares. After seeing my friends’ results, I was happy but was quite surprised because I was having doubts about my score. Once I had looked over my ecological footprint sheet, I realized that I had days where I was on an overnight practice trip, so this is not normally what happens on my weekends, so this affected my score a lot on the third day, but I believe that without the practice hike, I would be around 5 hectares.
10 actions that increase my ecological footprint
- Eating 2 servings of meat
- Driving to school and cadets
- Amount of waste (shoebox amount)
- Eating plastic wrapped foods
- Wearing matching socks
- Requiring lots of gear/ equipment for my activities (overnight practice hike)
- Leaving the water on while brushing my teeth
- Living space
- Water usage while showering
- Land that had been converted into, fields, rinks, pools, gyms etc.
5 actions that I will take to reduce my ecological footprint
- Eating 2 servings of meat
I wish to reduce the number of servings I have a day because, I fell that having 2 servings of meat a day is quite bad, because the number of greenhouse gases to be created just so I can eat the meat, is not worth it. I will do my best to reduce my servings of meat to 1 serving a day and save that one serving of meat for dinnertime, because African cuisine, can consist of a lot of meat, such as chicken curry and lamb curry etc. The way I shall do this is that I will refrain from getting my mom to make my lunch and make it myself with no meat whatsoever, or if my mom makes my lunch, make sure there is no meat.
- The amount of garbage I produce
I wish to change this because, I have noticed that I have slowly but surely increased the amount of food I eat, with excessive plastic waste, also I know that it takes a long time for the plastic to decompose, some of it doesn’t even decompose. I have also seen in my behaviour in an increase in the usage of plastic bags, and in some cases, I could reuse the bag, but instead, I throw it away. So, the first thing I wish to do is buy food in bulk and package it myself in reusable containers, and if I need to use a plastic bag, make sure I bring it home and try to reuse it again.
- Not leaving the water on while brushing my teeth
You might say that this is quite a childish endeavour, but it really is not. I am quite busy when I am brushing my teeth. I normally get everything, start brushing my teeth leave the bathroom and do other things, such as packing my school bag, making my bed, so it was quite easy for me to forget to turn off the water. When I first started it was still quite difficult, but the more I practised and continued to do it I managed to not forget to turn the water off.
- Reducing my water usage while showering
When showering, I normally take roughly a 5-minute shower, and when I thought about this matter, I thought to myself rather than thinking how to reduce my showering time, I thought how I can reduce my water usage. I thought back to how I solved my problem of leaving the water on while brushing my teeth, so I came up with a similar approach. What if when I was actually washing my body with soap, I turned off the water and turned it back on when I needed to rinse my body. This idea did wonders because although my time remained the same, I was actually using less water.
- Land that had been converted into fields, rinks, pools, gyms etc.
Over the weekends, I always go and hang out with my friend at his house and we always do something physical, like a bike ride, but lately, we have been playing a lot of basketball on courts, so land that had been converted into a court. So, I asked him if he was willing to take a break from playing basketball, and asked him the one day if he was willing to go for a hike. I explained to him about this ecological footprint assignment we were doing for Talons, and he really liked it. He then told me that he would like to join Talons, but he does not possess an IEP or gifted recognition. He then said sure why not let’s do a hike for a change, so we then decided to do the Diez Vista with his family and we continued to talk about Talons.
Some of the actions such as reducing my usage of land that had been converted into fields, courts rinks, etc., was quite easy for me to accomplish because I wasn’t doing it alone. I find that even when running, it is a lot easier if you are doing it with a friend because you are more motivated then if you go running by yourself. The same was for reducing my usage of land that had been converted into fields, rinks, courts, etc. After I had solved my problem of leaving the water on while brushing my teeth when it came for me to solve my usage of water in the shower, that was really easy to do because I had basically done the same thing already just on a smaller scale.
The things that were difficult for me to change, were the things that impeded my regular routine the most, such as eating less meat. This was quite difficult because, it also made it harder for my mom because now she needs to adjust how she goes shopping, and what she cooks for dinner if she let me take the meat to school for lunch. This impeded my routine because I have always been used to having meat with every meal, even when I have breakfast I have normally some sort of meat. Secondly, reducing the amount of garbage I produced, was quite difficult as well because my snacks seemed to always be individually wrapped. The thing difficult about it was that it was so convenient to just throw some granola bars into your bag, and most snacks these days are individually wrapped, like, seaweed, trail mix bars, or just trail mix, goldfish each in individual bags etc. I tried changing this by going out with my mom and buying things in bulk, but it was difficult because I have a habit of always comparing prices and going with the more economical one, rather than the one with less garbage. I took some time but eventually, I got the hang of it, by buying in bulk and restraining myself from checking which is more economical. Lastly, the thing I believe that was the most difficult for me to change was me leaving the water on while brushing my teeth, it was the hardest because it was the hardest to remember because it is such a small and insignificant thing. As soon as I had solved it, it made solving my water usage during showers a whole lot easier so in the end it worked out for the good.
Throughout the process of making these improvements to reduce my ecological footprint, I ran into some problems, but many were just little things that could be solved quickly. Although my forgetfulness to make the improvements was one of the biggest obstacles I had to face. I simply just kept on forgetting to turn of the water when brushing my teeth, although once I had that down, it helped solve other problems, such as helping me reduce my water usage in the shower. I believe that most people forget to do things because sometimes they truly forget, but other times they just want to forget because by forgetting things it makes their lives easier by not having to put in the extra effort to remember. Speaking of extra effort, this was another obstacle, because it was quite difficult for me to change my routine, by changing the number of servings of meat I consumed daily along with eating foods with less excessive waste. I found these to be one of the greatest obstacles I faced because these required the most effort to do so. There were always situations where I just wanted to forget of taking a snack in a reusable container and just take a few granola bars or just take goldfish in a plastic bag, but I needed to put in the extra effort, along with the use of my will power, to make the correct choice. I know that this is going to be a challenge for others as well, because this is what causes others to just give up because they decide to take the easy way out, not the hard way, which is generally the right way.
In conclusion, I have learnt a lot from this experience, and I have learnt a lot of skills that can help me in the future. Going into the future I hope that I continue to acquire more skills on this matter, and maintain the current skills I have now because these skills have helped me in many ways. The price of paying for heat is going down, because there is not as much hot water being used, by turning off the water when brushing my teeth provides us along with the world a little more drinking water, no matter how small. Even reducing my amount of waste, helps prevent a little less garbage going into the landfills. From this experience, I have now gained a more informed view, on things either increasing or decreasing my ecological footprint and how my everyday decisions can affect the future to make a change for the better or the worse.
“One man can make a difference and you are going to be that man” From Knight Rider