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The "Ecological Footprint" – what is that?

Posted on June 28 2019

The "Ecological Footprint" is a very topical term and yet many do not know what the effects of their own lifestyle are on earth. Some of the everyday habits are among the biggest factors accelerating climate change. But what is the Ecological Footprint?

Ecological Footprint

The western industrial nations, but also emerging markets such as China and India, are among the biggest climate sinners. The unbridled overexploitation of the planet's natural resources ensures that climate change and its consequences will soon be irreversible – if they are not already. We don't have a planet B. That's why we at NIKIN want to do everything we can to raise awareness of what we can do to protect our environment. All of us.

But how can we live in a way that protects the earth's ecosystem? And can we measure whether we really live sustainably? Yes, you can. For this there is the so-called "Ecological Footprint"!

What is the "Ecological Footprint"?

The Ecological Footprint is the biologically productive area required to maintain a person's standard of living. This includes not only the supply of food and water, but also the provision of energy, the carbon dioxide released directly or indirectly by this person and the disposal of waste. This required area is compared with the area available worldwide or regionally measured by the number of inhabitants. The concept of the Ecological Footprint is not new – it was developed in 1994, and since 2003 there has been a true Global Footprint Network. The protection of our planet is actively supported by renowned researchers and Nobel Prize winners!

How the "Ecological Footprint" is calculated

The Ecological Footprint can be calculated based on a person's lifestyle. The basic question is how much usable space would be needed to maintain the lifestyle the person is accustomed to. On the other hand, there is the available and also biologically usable area – which is the earth's surface, minus inhabited regions, but also deserts, ice or mountains.

Those who want to calculate their own Ecological Footprint can do so: there is an online  Footprint Calculator. Simply answer the questions and then be astonished. Because despite all attentiveness, even the most environmentally conscious of us usually still has a lot of air to the top...

How big are our footprints?

If you look at the average Ecological Footprint on the continents of the world, you will quickly see that the real climate sinners are North Americans. Their footprint is greater than 8 – a really drastic value and still twice as much as in Europe, where we still live on quite a large foot. At least ecologically.

The people of Africa, on the other hand, live in an almost exemplary way, with an ecological footprint of 1.4. No wonder, since many Africans still live traditionally and sustainably. Unfortunately, this way of life is strongly threatened. Many people in Africa can no longer and do not want to live in the traditional way. Droughts, riots, but also new consumption patterns are changing behaviour and will ensure that Africans will soon appear "one size bigger".

How can one reduce one's own ecological footprint?

Each of us can significantly reduce our Ecological Footprint in different ways. Much of it is not difficult at all and will soon become routine.

  • Consume less energy! Switch off electrical appliances correctly and do not let them run unnecessarily.
  • Always use energy-saving lamps for lamps. A great deal of electricity can be saved here.
  • Carefully separate waste – and cause less waste right from the start.
  • Regional and fresh groceries help to save long transport distances and thus energy costs. It also helps local producers!
  • Leave the car standing and walk more by foot or take the bicycle instead. And as far as air travel is concerned... as painful as that is, they really hit it!
  • Consume less, recycle more – buy fair and sustainable clothes and equipment or buy second hand and really use your things for a long time instead of replacing them with the latest model every year.

These are just a few examples that quickly show how many possibilities there are to live on a smaller foot. Because up to now we have all sinned far too much.

Who are the biggest climate sinners?

What hardly anyone is aware of in view of the debate about exhaust gases and CO2 emissions from cars is that there are much bigger climate sinners (without now wanting to point at all the SUVs on European roads). Global meat production in particular is a crime against the global climate. Large cattle herds need grazing land and fodder. In order to provide this, forest land is cleared and soya is cultivated instead. Added to this are the digestive gases emitted by cattle, which considerably increase the world's CO2 emissions. It is therefore worth considering your own meat consumption, minimising it and consuming it consciously and, if possible, only locally.

But the production of biofuel, for example from rapeseed or soya, also falls under this category, and for similar reasons.

Something has to change. Now!

The truth is – and you have to make this clear to yourself – that there is no way around a little renunciation. We have all lived very well for a very long time – and we have lived above our means. Now the bill is presented. If we do not manage to change our habits, we will not be able to account to our children and grandchildren.

We at NIKIN therefore strive not only privately, but also with our project, to ensure that the earth remains as beautiful and worth living on as it still is. With every purchase you make with us, you donate for the planting of a tree through our partner OneTreePlanted. This does not change the world overnight – but it is a beginning. And you are a part of it! 


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