Ecological Footprint

An ecological footprint is a measure of human impact on Earth’s ecosystems.

Footprints vary by country, region, community, household, and individual, depending on various use factors. Common footprint measures include those for land, water, and carbon consumption.

The Global Footprint Network calculates the global ecological footprint from UN and other data. They estimate that as of 2007, our planet has been using natural capital 1.5 times faster than nature can renew it.

Terrapass offers simple and accessible footprint calculators for individuals, households, businesses, and events. Use this tool to learn where you are now and what you can change.

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Water Footprint

We use more water than we realize to wash dishes, water the garden, shower, and more. Water footprint calculators for personal use are marvelous tools to learn about the direct use of water at home and in the garden as well as indirect water consumption related to food choices.

Grace Communications Foundation offers a way to calculate your water footprint and then play with your answers to discover ways to lower it (also see our Water Conservation section).

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is defined as the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product. There are serious technical challenges related to accurately calculating my carbon footprint—or yours—that arise from the complexities of our carbon-intensive world. These include indirect vs. direct energy consumption, naturally occurring emissions, and more.

Indirect sources of CO2 emissions include emissions from transportation, production, and related activities often far removed from our personal or household consumption. In the United States, most of the carbon footprint emissions for the average household come from indirect sources, such as fuel burned to produce goods far away from the final consumer. These are distinguished from emissions that result from burning fuel directly in a personal car or furnace, which are considered direct sources of the carbon footprint.

Carbon footprint calculators measure direct emissions of gases into the atmosphere that cause climate change, as an indicator of relative sustainability of energy use practices.