Ecological Footprint: Water Usage

Each time you take a 15 minute shower you are using 90 gallons of water. Each time you flush a toilet you use 5 gallons of water. Each day more than 1 billion people walk 3 hours to collect water.

Ecological footprint is the measurement of human demand on the Earth’s resources. According to the Sustainable Scale Project, the Ecological Footprint “is rooted in the fact that all renewable resources come from the earth”.

This last week, participants in Global Visionaries’ leadership program learned about the ecological footprint at their third culture night this year.

After the students participated in an activity which sparked conversation about ecological footprint, the Leaders in Training directed a discussion.

“Everything we choose to do affects somebody else whether you know it or not.”

Students pointed out that we are all giving and taking—yet some countries take more than others.

Youth Board leaders demonstrated the difference between the ecological footprint of the United States and third world countries by pouring popcorn kernels into a bowl. The sound of the popcorn kernels hitting the bowl represented the impact those countries are making on the environment. The sound of popcorn representing third world countries was very short, but the sound representing the U.S. lasted a full minute.

The students noticed a big difference between the way the U.S. uses resources and the way third world countries use resources. The economic disparity is also great. One half of the world is living on $2 a day. Most of us make more in one hour than they make in a day, as one student pointed out. The difference in priorities between the U.S. and third world countries is displayed in this comparison—one group only uses what they need.

At the end of the night, students made a commitment to reducing their ecological footprint by being conscious of their water usage. The leaders acknowledged that this one step might not seem like it will make a big difference but pointed out that lasting change begins with habits.

GV participants were encouraged to compare their personal needs with their personal wants. For example, if a student wants to purchase drive-thru coffee each morning they can save money and lower impact on the environment by drinking GV coffee instead. That decision would save a person $56 each month.

Several ideas on saving resources were given by the students such as turning off lights, carpooling, buying used instead of new and walking instead of driving.

Using water is just one of the ways we leave a permanent ecological footprint on Earth. We can all make little changes in our water usage habits that will lead to a lasting impact on the earth.

For more information on saving water go to:  http://www.uri.edu/smile/documents/EveryDropCounts_Grades5-12WaterLesson.pdf

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