:: Starter Activities - Print Version

Footprint Analysis

A tool used to raise awareness and illustrate a persons impact on the world.
The website activity below is intended for students to use as individuals but discussion can take place in groups afterwards. This activity also features as a useful eco-design tool in the Students' Section of this website.

When to use the activity
Use this activity when highlighting the link between consumption patterns and lifestyles and sustainability. It is particularly useful in making students think about their own behaviour as consumers and the impact they have as individuals.

Who is the activity for?
This introductory activity can be used at either AS or A2 level. It can be either a group or individual activity or a combination of the two.

The Activity and hints on how to organise it
Go to www.myfootprint.org or www.bestfootforward.com/footprintlife.htm

You are asked a number of questions about your lifestyle

Enter your responses into the drop down menus

As you give your answers you can see how many planets are needed to support the way you live (if everyone adopted your lifestyle)

If working in groups review the results and the students' reaction to them.

Further information
Footprint researchers have calculated the potential productivity of the land and sea available on this planet and divided this by the population. If we allocate 12% of land for biodiversity, then our individual share of productive land is 1.9 hectares.

It has been calculated that if everyone lived the average British lifestyle we would need 3 planets like earth to support us. If everyone on the planet consumed the resources that the average person in Bangladesh does we would only be using a bit more than a third of the Earth's resources. If everyone lived like the average US citizen we would need 5 planets. 20% of the world's population have 86% of the world's wealth.

Because so many of us are consuming so much, the total resources consumption of the 6 billion people now on the planet is using 1.5 times the resources available (we would need another half a planet to provide for present consumption sustainably). Consuming more than is available seems impossible, but what we are doing is "spending the capital", ruining areas of the planet by polluting them, causing soil erosion etc and therefore reducing the amount of productive land available.