Our Ecological Footprint

I just completed an ecological footprint calculator that I found as a link on the Go Greener Australia blog (thanks Julie). The link is http://www.myfootprint.org and from what I can tell is fairly comprehensive. Now, as you can imagine, I have used a few of these calculators over the last few years to assist me in finding what else is possible when trying to reduce my families carbon footprint and global hectares. This one is pretty good and was easy to fill in, but I think it may have made too many assumptions. My family did fairly well compared to the national average. Guess how many planet Earths we would need if everyone lived like me? It was 1.75 planets! I thought that with 6 people living under our roof, generating our own power, growing some of our own vegetables, and very low waste each week with maximum recycling, I would have rated lower. Well, compared to the national average of 5.7 planets for the “average” Australian, I suppose I shouldn’t be beating myself up. Here are the rest of the results by consumption category;

Here are the results by my share by biome;

So, the calculator tells me that the global hectares required for the “Average Australian” to live the lifestyle they are accustomed to is 90.8. That is incredible! I knew that we are the biggest CO2 equivalent emitters per capita in the world, but that global hectare average is ridiculous. We, as a country need to be taking some serious steps towards living sustainably or the rest of the global population is in trouble. We as a country must be using so much of the third worlds land to sustain our standard of living, because we can’t possibly have 1.81 Billion hectares (90.8 x 20 million Australians) of arable land in Australia when according to the CIA fact book, only 5-9% of Australia can be used for food production. Click on the picture to enlarge.

So what does that mean? I suppose it means that we Australians are sponging off of others to live the high life, myself included. But that leaves me with an enigma. I don’t know what else to do! You would think that after nearly 19 months of trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, I would be at a single planet lifestyle by now. How do I get my footprint down to only one planet? Start a commune, with more people living under our roof? I doubt it, I think six is enough. Eat less, so therefore consuming less? We are already close enough to being vegetarians as it is, with only about one to two servings of meat a week. So if anyone has any suggestions that I haven’t thought of, and have not written about in my blog, I would love to read them.

This has really bamboozled me!


  1. Julie says

    Oops! I didn’t mean to make anyone feel bad about their footprint! I know you’re doing so much, it always impresses me.

    I’d suggest that part of the problem is that so much of our infrastructure in Australia is inefficient. The things we all rely on collectively (roads, office buildings, etc) aren’t given much thought. But those things do show up in the country-wide statistics that the Redefining Progress calculator relies on.

    I think it shows that we need to take political and community action as well as personal action. You’ve already made a start by talking to local groups, and probably helped to reduce other people’s footprints by doing so!

    In the end, it’s just a toy to give an idea. I think it’s good if it shocks us a little – it certainly gave my complacency a shake, haha!

  2. says

    So should a lot of important stuff, Gavin. That’s why we don’t get any newspapers – they are full of…crap.

    Eat, Think and be Merry – that’s the motto of the local organic shop I go to, and it is a good one to live by!

  3. says

    Kate, you are a wise woman indeed. Here I am always thinking the best of people, and I failed to see the lies and deceit behind these types of calculators. It really gels with me now, because no sooner did I finish the calculator, then the site asked me if I wanted to offset my footprint by paying money. Your post about these types of audit calculators should be in the national newspapers for all to read!


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