By Les W. Kuzyk, member of Creston Climate Action Society
Dr. William Rees, a professor at the University of British Columbia, devised the ecological footprint. The ecological footprint measures the impact of human activity by how fast we consume resources and generate waste.
Here in the Kootenays, the ecological footprint has been calculated for each community profiled in the census by Statistics Canada. As a citizen, you can calculate the footprint of your own household and see how you fit with your neighbours. To play and compate, take the Kootenay Village Challenge at kootenayvillagechallenge.wordpress.com.
Then, go to www.footprintcalculator.org to determine your own ecological footprint. The household calculator will then suggest ways to lower your footprint. You may find that modifying your grocery bill, amazingly, impacts your footprint significantly, just by eating less meat, buying less packaged foods, or buying in bulk. This is perhaps the simplest climate crisis action to take. Of course, investing in a heat pump or an electric vehicle makes a carbon difference too.
According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN) National Footprint Accounts, published in 2016, the world-average ecological footprint was 2.75 global hectares per person. While Canada’s ecological footprint is 8.17 global hectares per person, the sixth highest country in the world.
Have you heard of Earth Overshoot Day? It marks the day when the lifestyle of a community or country has consumed one planet’s worth of resources. For 2022, Earth Overshoot Day for humanity was July 28. You can also calculate your own Earth Overshoot Day at www.footprintcalculator.org. A personal Earth Overshoot Day earlier than that means your demand on nature is higher than the world average.
Since “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, why not start with your own ecological footprint? When you do construction, or measure your dress size, you use a tape measure. So, have fun with the challenge and find creative ways to cut back. Talk to your neighbours and see what they say. Lead the way in your community and challenge yourself to lower your footprint.
Last September, the Town of Creston committed to adopt the 100% Renewable Energy Plan by the year 2050. Creston was the 11th community in the West Kootenays to pledge to make the transition. Now is the time to start working towards positive change.
After calculating your ecological footprint, send your results to CrestonClimateActionSociety@gmail.com or like Creston Climate Action on Facebook.