Last week, students at Kinnaird Elementary spent the afternoon exploring the concept of Ecological Footprints. Since an eco-footprint is the amount of land needed to support our lifestyles (energy needs, food, water, transportation, raw materials in our stuff and waste), we started by brainstorming all of the things that would fit into our eco-footprints in Castlegar. We ended up with a diverse list that included grocery stores, rivers, faucets, light switches, iPads, video games, books, clothing, cars, bikes and pets. It quickly became clear that we would each require quite a bit of space to support our lifestyles (and all of our stuff!).
Things got really interesting when we started to consider how eco-footprints vary throughout the world. We realized that just like our real feet, eco-footprints come in all sorts of sizes. We looked at the average footprint size of several different countries and saw that there is a huge difference between the eco-footprints in First World countries and many Third World countries. As we tried to envision what life was like for the average person in Bangladesh compared to Canada, it soon became clear that the size of our eco-footprints depends on our lifestyles. They just keep growing the more luxurious our lives get!
We learned how the average Canadian uses far more than their fair share of available land and resources, leaving other countries with less. We wrapped up with a hopeful discussion about all the ways we can shrink our eco-footprints and lessen our impact on the environment around us.