Living within the Earth’s environment

Living within the Earth’s environment, on one hand, people rely on the ecosystems for adequate food, quality water, fresh air, soil and energy to maintain human’s life but on the other hand, they also demand its’ ability to regenerate the waste despite the pressure of population’s growth (WWF, 2016). Due to the global population has increased dramatically and inevitably, to maintain the growing demand of consumption and conservation of natural resources in a sustainable way is quite challenging (O’Shea et al., 2013). Because humans consume the resources and services of nature, everyone has more or less impact on the planet; the Ecological Footprint (EF) is the most universal measurement to indicate the impact of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems (Wackernagel et al., 2018). The aim of the EF is to estimate the sustainability by comparing the consumption of reusable resource with Earth’s biological carrying capacity; it calculates how much the productive land and water an individual, a city or a country requires to meet and support the consumption and to uptake the waste it regenerates to sustain humanity (Wackernagel et al., 2018). In this report, I will calculate the size of my EF on the planet using my personal data; the three main indicators to my EF and strategies will be identified and discussed to obtain a comprehensive point of view of my own impact; the role of civil society, corporations and government and the current strategies and the limitations and barriers for developing a sustainable environment will be discussed later in this report.

2.0 My Ecological Footprint

To have a comprehensive understanding of my own effect on the planet, I calculate my own EF by using the World Wildlife Fund’s Ecological Footprint Calculator, to generate my own data which was collected within my everyday living and lifestyle. The result indicates if everyone on the planet has the same lifestyle like me, it would need 2.7 Earths to support my own living; 4.6 global hectares of productive area requirement and 8.2 tonnes of carbon emissions per year to maintain my lifestyle (Appendix A). My EF results consist of 5 main categories: Mobility (39%), Food (27%), Services (18%), Shelter (10%) and Goods (6%) (Appendix B). This report will focus on three main categories account for my EF: Mobility, Food and Shelter and a further explanation will be discussed in depth.

2.1 Key Contributors

2.1.1 Mobility:
Mobility is the prime factor account for 39% to my footprint. I am a full-time worker, I work 4 days per week. In general, I travel approximately 300km for work and study, spending roughly $ 45 on my fuel per week. I drive a Honda Jazz 2011, which is considered a fuel efficiency car with an average 7.6L per 100km of fuel consumption. Although the public transportation is well-developed in Gold Coast, I do not use it or carpooling because of the cost, time and inconvenience. With the level of affluence increase in a country, the amount of the ownership of the car within a household grows accordingly (Dargay & Gately, 1997). According to Chapman (2007) transportation is responsible for 26% of CO2 emission worldwide and over 80% of this emission is from the road (Chapman, 2007).

2.1.2 Food Consumption:
The second indicator of my EF is food consumption account for 27%. According to my eating preferences when considering my food consumption: I rarely eat fish or seafood, but I consume meats such as beef, lamb, pork or poultry alternatively and dairy and eggs on my everyday basis. I go to a supermarket every 2-3 days and often buy packaged meat and imported foods sometimes. I hardly buy canned foods or processed meat. I eat fresh vegetables every other day.
Food products take up a large amount of energy on the planet (SanyƩ et al., 2012) and food packaging has long-term impacts on environment during the process of supply chain including transport and food handling protection and is considered the great source of disposal waste which lead the soil deterioration (Accorsi et al., 2014).

2.1.3 Shelter:
I would like to discuss the energy efficiency of solar panels of my shelter. I live in a standard 4 bedroom house with my family. We just installed solar panels a year ago and have replaced all light bulbs to energy saving LED. We use electricity for the cooking stove; we rarely use the dishwasher. Our electricity expenditure is roughly $ 110 a month which saves around $ 80 in comparison to the past. We wash our clothes and do the house work during the daytime or before the sunset as much as possible to utilize our solar energy. With the increase of the worldwide population, the demands for energy grow accordingly. The development of solar energy will become the future alternative resource especially in high intensity sunlight countries (Azarpour et al., 2013).