How can the ecological footprint be calculated?

Expert Answers
justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ecological footprint of a person can be calculated by analyzing how much of the Earth's resources does a person's lifestyle use. This includes numerous factors, some of which are:

  • The amount of land that is required to produce food. And how much water, pesticide, fertilizer and energy are consumed during the production of food.
  • The amount of fuel that is used for transportation.
  • How much energy is consumed for heating and cooling.
  • How much electricity is consumed and on an average what is the carbon dioxide emission associated with it.
  • How much metal and other inorganic substances like plastics, glass, paper etc. are consumed by the person and how they are disposed once they have been consumed.

Once the details for the above are available, it is possible to calculate an approximate ecological footprint.

There are several methods available to do the same though none of them can provide an exact figure. This is due to the fact that the ecological footprint is dependent on where the person lives and also on how accurate an estimate of the actual consumption can be made from the information collected.

Several websites use information from a database and your replies to various questions to give a rough estimate of your ecological footprint. A few examples of these are provided below.