Global Footprint Network present the New Footprint Calculator

Photo: istockphotos
Web tool uses data on how and where users live to determine how many planets it takes to support their lifestyle.

Whether you're a car-pooling vegan from Italy, frugal home-maker from China or a jet-setting fashionista from Brazil, you can calculate the size of your Footprint on the planet with a new Web tool developed by Global Footprint Network

The calculator takes users through a series of questions about their lifestyle, and determines their Ecological Footprint -- the amount of land area it takes to produce all the resources they consume and absorb their CO2 emissions. It also identifies their greatest areas of resource consumption and translates this into the number of planets we would need if everyone lived that way.

After receiving their results, users can set targets for how much they'd like to reduce their Footprint, and explore scenarios for reaching their goal (for example, by biking rather than driving to work, eating meat one less day a week, recycling more and reducing new purchases.)

"The new global Footprint tool will help bring awareness of our personal impact on the planet to many more countries," said Kathleen Rogers, Earth Day Network President. "This valuable tool can be used in communities and schools to help educate people about how our lifestyle choices affect the environment."

The popular calculator, which had featured geographically-specific data for the U.S., Australia, Switzerland and Calgary, Canada, now has versions for ten new countries:

  • Ecuador -- Spanish and English
  • Peru -- Spanish and English
  • Argentina -- Spanish and English
  • Brazil -- Portuguese and English
  • Italy -- Italian and English
  • Turkey -- Turkish and English
  • South Africa -- Afrikaans and English
  • India -- Hindi and English
  • China -- Chinese and English
  • Japan -- Japanese and English

Particularly unique to the tool is that it uses geographically-specific data, based on an extensive set of ecological accounts Global Footprint Network calculates annually for over 150 nations. Calculator questions are tailored to the specific housing, transportation, food consumption and purchasing habits of each country. In South Africa, for example, a bakkie -- a open-back pick-up truck that carries passengers -- counts among the transportation choices. For India, charcoal, crop residue and dung cake are listed along with coal and electricity as heating choices. "Occasional" fish consumption might be defined as one or two servings per day (China), or less than once a week (U.S.). A 100-square-meter home might be "average" (Canada) or "very large." (Ecuador).

"We wanted the calculator to reflect what people in each country would recognize as the typical options," said Meredith Stechbart, Applications manager for Global Footprint Network.

The size of your Footprint varies not only by your lifestyle, but also where you are on the globe. This is because a person's Ecological Footprint includes not only things that they have control over -- such as whether they bike or carpool to work -- but also things they don't, such as their per-capita share of the country's collective services and infrastructure -- things like hospitals, highways, militaries and schools.

"We hope the calculator will show users what kind of changes they can make to reduce their Footprint, and what differences these changes can make," Stechbart said. "But the calculator results also show that the society we live in is an important part of our ecological demand. While individual choices are critically important, so is influencing the larger society to be less resource dependent."

Who is the Global Footprint Network?

Global Footprint Network is an international think tank working to advance sustainability through use of the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use and who uses what. Using an internationally-approved methodology, Global Footprint Network produces annual calculations on the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity of more than 150 nations and the world as a whole. It is also working with nations, cities and enterprises around the globe to make ecological limits central to decision-making. Global Footprint Network's mission is to enable a world where all people can live well, within the means of one planet.