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Footprints. We make them everywhere we go. But unlike the impressions we leave in mud or sand, which we can clearly see, our Ecological Footprints outline the space we each need to survive.
Understanding exactly how big our Ecological Footprints are can be difficult because they encompass all the space and resources we need to live—light (energy), air, water and soil.
Learn how the choices you make affect the size of your Ecological Footprint.
How long do you spend in the shower?
When brushing your teeth, do you turn off the tap?
How often do you flush the toilet?
What kind of clothing do you wear?
How do you get from place to place?
What distance do you travel to school or to work?
After eating, what do you discard?
Where do you recycle or compost?
How often do you turn off the lights when you leave the room?
How would you describe your eating habits?
How much leftover food do you have after each meal?
The average person spends approximately 182 days in the shower over the course of their lifetime. That’s an average of 10 minutes a day. Depending on your showerhead, the average human uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute. That equates to 9,125 gallons of water a year. Source
A standard faucet can use between 2 and 3 gallons of water per minute. By turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, you can conserve between 20 and 30 gallons of water per person per week. For a family of four, that’s 6,000 gallons of water per year. Source
Older toilets can use between 3 and 7 gallons of water with every flush. Multiply that by 5 (the average number of flushes a day) and that’s 6,338 to 12,775 gallons of water used per person, per year. High efficiency toilets use only 1.28 gallons of water per flush, resulting in 2,336 gallons of water used per person, per year. Source
The reuse of 1 ton of polyester garments uses only 1.8% of the energy required to manufacture these goods from new materials, and the reuse of 1 ton of cotton clothing uses only 2.6% of the energy required to manufacture it from new materials. Source
Americans use nearly 400 million gallons of gasoline every day. This will fill a 600-acre lake about 2 feet deep. Idling for 10 seconds consumes more fuel than turning off the engine. Source
The average person generates approximately 4 pounds of trash every day (about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year). Studies show about 75% of solid waste is recyclable, even though only about 30% is actually recycled. In fact, Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour. Source
Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy used to make cans from new material. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to an entire album on an iPod. Recycling 100 cans could light your bedroom for two weeks. Source
Lighting makes up about 15% of an electricity bill. It’s easy to forget to turn off lights in high-traffic areas like hallways, stairs or garages. Motion sensors are a great way to turn lights on and off for you. You can also save energy by using light dimmers. Source
Raising animals for food creates 18% of global greenhouse gases (more than transportation). Producing one pound of hamburger meat contributes to as much greenhouse gases driving a small car 20 miles. A pound of pork equals about 5 miles. A pound of potatoes equals just 0.34 miles. Source
More than 20 pounds of food wasted each month for each of 311 million Americans (That’s like dumping 80 hamburgers in the garbage). Over the course of a year, Americans waste 40% of food (an equivalent of 165 billion dollars). Source
About 0.74 city blocks