Tracking Footprints

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A footprint is more than an impression on a yielding surface. It’s a record of pressure, direction, and identity. Just as different animals have different tracks, so people from all walks of life tread the ground differently. Tracking footprints is a skill and a science. The same applies to tracking environmental foot prints.

Since there is no readily measurable physical record of our footprints on the environment, tracking our environmental footprints takes a different approach. One of the ways we can measure these is through answering relevant questions on our lifestyle, consumption, conservation efforts, etc. There are three common environmental footprints “tracked”.

Carbon Footprint The most recognizable of the three, carbon footprints are a measurement of how much pollution or carbon emissions we create from our activities and lifestyle. Measure your carbon footprints through these calculators.

Nature Conservancy Carbon Footprint Calculator The test starts with a question on how many people share your household. It then proceeds to a four part test measuring carbon footprints in home energy use, transportation (driving and flying), food and diet, and recycling and waste. There are graphs at the lower part of the test showing greenhouse gas emissions for each part. The test can be taken to measure an individual or a household’s carbon footprint.

Yahoo! Green Carbon Footprint Calculator features a simple, one page carbon footprint test touching on “home,” “on the road,” and “in the air” aspects of your lifestyle. The result page contains practical tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint. The test can be taken for an individual or a household measurement. There are also links to other sites like 18seconds and reuse groups to help you act on your test results.

Cool the World Kids Carbon Calculator Involve your kids in your carbon footprint reduction plans by letting them see how much they contribute themselves. The test touches on transport, home energy use, and holidays. The result page shows the carbon emissions produced by each activity questioned in the test. There are also encouraging tips o how to lessen one’s carbon footprint based on the answers given (“You are leaving your TV on standby when you could be saving 12 kgs of CO2 a year!”). As a whimsical touch, a track of footprints advances across the top of the screen for each question answered.

Water Footprint measures the amount of water used to produce products and services. It also takes into account the amount of water used for indoor activities like cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, etc. and outdoor ones like gardening and washing cars. Collecting and reusing water (rainfall collection and greywater) also influence the total score. Extended Water Footprint Calculator The test includes measuring food consumption, domestic water use, outdoor water use and industrial goods consumption. At the bottom part of the test page the water footprint is measured in cubic meter per year. The site also has water footprint information on national, corporate and global levels.

H2O Conserve Water Footprint Calculator uses cool graphics and interface to measure aUS resident’s water footprint. There are 19 questions to answer that include home energy use, indoor water use, outdoor water use, and recycling habits. A line of water droplets fill up at the bottom for each question answered. The results of the quiz which shows both individual and household results are compared to the average American water footprint.

National Geographic Water Footprint Calculator A cute test designed for kids as well as for adults. The Nat Geo water footprint test touches on home, diet, energy, and stuff. There’s a score and short summary after each part and the gallons of water used per day can be seen at the lower part of the test. The score is compared to theUS average. A gradient tube fills with water when your answer indicates a high water footprint; it goes down when your answer corresponds to a low water footprint.

Ecological Footprint pertains to how much “nature” we use in the course of our daily, modern lifestyle and its consequences on the environment.

Earth Day Network Footprint Calculator starts you on your quiz by presenting a world map with choices for country of residence. It includes questions on food, goods, shelter, services, and mobility. The results page show how many planets’ worth of regenerative capacity is required if everyone lived the same lifestyle. It also includes links to how to change your ecological footprint and how people can live within the planet’s means.

Ecological Footprint Calculator is a one-page test with 11 questions on lifestyle, energy use, eating habits, and others. The results at the lower part of the page show both the score for carbon footprint and ecological footprint. It includes a pie chart of footprint components including mobility, food and drink, health and education, and others. The results also show the efficiency of economy and the regenerative capacity of the planet required to support the human population if everyone had the same lifestyle as you do.

My Footprint Ecological Footprint Quiz measures how many global hectares or global acres support your lifestyle choices. It touches on food, goods, housing, services, energy, and wastes. The score of the ecological footprint is broken down into four consumption categories (carbon, food, housing, goods/services) and four ecosystem types (cropland, pastureland, forestland, marine fisheries). The scores are compared against the global average.


These quizzes and tests do not comprehensively cover our consumption and use of natural resources, and so may not be able to give a hundred percent accurate answer. They give us a general idea, however, of our impact on the environment. Even a seemingly green, low-energy use lifestyle might have some weak points that could be improved (water use, eating habits, etc.). By being aware, we are well on the way of improving our environmental footprints for the better. Hopefully, by being more aware and more concerned global citizens, we would see a lot more green footprints than carbon black ones in our lifetime and in years to come.


Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by RozSheffield on Flickr.

Estel M.
About Estel M. (339 Posts)

Estel Grace Masangkay is a creative writer who enjoys outdoor trips and nature activities. She is passionate about sustainability and environment conservation. Follow Me @Em23me.

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