The Ecological Footprint paper, due by 12pm PST Friday of Week 9, encourages you to think critically about the ecological impact of your lifestyle decisions and ways to reduce your natural resource use. This assignment is worth 15 points (15% of your final grade).
In a 5-6 page paper (12 point font, double space text, 1” margins), demonstrate your understanding of course concepts and information by applying them to an analysis of your ecological footprint. In your paper, address the following questions:
How do your lifestyle choices impact natural resource use and management?
What steps can you take to lessen your impact on natural resources and/or conserve natural resources?
How does the management of natural resources affect your lifestyle decisions?
Your paper will have four sections: Food, Mobility, Shelter, Consumer Goods/Services. Under each section, discuss your lifestyle choices and draw connections to the concepts and information presented in this course. Each section should have at least three citations from the course readings. Cite course information by 1) providing the specific information and 2) naming the text page number, reading title, and/or lecture title where you got the information [For example, (NRC, p.356)]. Do not use outside sources of information. Assume your reader knows nothing about natural resources. Demonstrate your understanding by explaining in detail how your choices impact natural resources.
The calculator readout will list the estimated size of your ecological footprint by lifestyle category (food, mobility, shelter, and goods/services). If you have questions about the calculator that might help you analyze your ecological footprint, check out the Frequently Asked Questions link provided on the final page of the calculator.
In addition, try answering the following questions using information from the readings. These questions are only meant to get you started. I do not expect you to cover all of them in your paper. Fo example, it's perfectly acceptable to focus your entire food section on your seafood choices, so long as you demonstrate your understanding of course information and of your own ecological impact.
How do your food choices impact the management, conservation, and/or depletion of natural resources? For example, what criteria do you use to decide what food to buy and consume (price, location of production, ease of preparation, packaging, etc.) and how does this influence the relative environmental impact of your food choices? What agricultural methods/grazing practices/harvest methods do you think are used to produce the food you eat? What are the ecological impacts associated with these types of production methods? Where is your food produced? How far has it traveled to get to you? What kind of packaging was needed? How much and what types of seafood do you eat? How do your eating habits affect ocean resources? What can you do to lessen your impact?
What are the impacts of your transportation choices on the management, conservation, and/or depletion of natural resources? For example, what criteria did you use to choose how many and what kind of automobile(s) you have (price, fuel efficiency, safety, looks, etc.)? How have these criteria influenced your impact on natural resources? How far from school and work do you live? How do you get to school/work? How much do you travel and what form of transportation do you use? What are the ecological impacts that result from your transportation choices? What can you do to lessen your impact?
What are the impacts of your housing choices on the management, conservation, and/or depletion of natural resources? For example, what criteria did you use to choose your housing? How large is your home? What materials were used to build it? Where did the materials came from? What are the ecological impacts were associated with the building of your home? Is your home energy efficient? How do you heat your home? Where does your electricity come from (natural gas? hydropower? coal?) and how much do you use? How do your energy choices affect natural resources? Where does your tap water come from (aquifer? river? reservoir?) and how much do you use? How does your water use impact aquaitc resources? What resources are needed to maintain your landscaping (water? chemicals?) and what is the associated ecological impact? What can you do to lessen your impact?
What are the impacts of your choices of consumer goods/services on the management and conservation of natural resources? Does it matter to you who made your consumer goods or where? How might where your goods are made affect your ecological impact? What kinds and what amounts of consumer goods/services do you have or desire (media equipment, furniture, appliances, clothes, toys, jewelry, etc.)? How does your demand for goods/services impact natural resources? Of your total consumer goods, how much of it was purchased used? What do you do with goods you no longer want? How does your re-use of consumer good influence your overall impact to natural resources? What can you do to lessen your impact?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions!! Your final paper will NOT be graded on the relative "greenness" of your lifestyle decisions but on your ability to 1) reflect honestly on the ecological impacts of your lifestyle and 2) draw connections between specific course informationl and your own lifestyle choices.