Ecological footprint refers to the environmental effects caused by individuals and organizations in their daily activities. The effects can be observed by evaluating the overall effects caused by certain activities and can be reduced through sustainable measures at personal and organizational levels. My ecological footprint evaluation showed surprising results on the effects of water, electricity, and packaging used for personal applications. I observed that a large volume of water was wasted through constant water dripping at one of the taps. My electricity meter readings showed that there were changes in the readings caused by unplugged electronic appliances when they were not in use. I also observed that my daily shopping activities contributed to the amount of plastic waste in the trash bin because of paper bag packaging from retail stores. The evaluation provided me with important information on simple steps that can be taken at the personal level to reduce ecological footprint.
There are several realistic ways of reducing the personal ecological footprint. People should use their own grocery bags instead of depending on the plastic packaging in retail stores. Plastic paper bags are normally used for packaging in retail stores since most of the customers do not have their own bags. The plastic bags are generally non-reusable and contribute a significant amount of the waste in our rubbish bins. Using a personal shopping bag can be effective in reducing the need for retail stores to use plastic bags, and reduce the overall ecological impact resulting from the process of manufacturing the plastic bags. Using a shopping bag is a realistic intervention because it is fairly easy for people to afford the bags and use them in shopping activities.
People should unplug electronic appliances whenever they are not in use. Leaving electronic devices unplugged contributes to standby power wastage. The demand for residential power applications contributes to the overall ecological footprint caused by the power generating plants. Reducing the amount of residential power use can be effective in reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emission associated with power generators. Reducing electronic power wastage through unplugging electronic devices when not in use is an effective intervention because it would contribute to reduced power bills. Additionally, it is fairly cheap for people to purchase on/off switching devices when they do not want to unplug their electronic appliances at all times.
People should use recyclable alternatives to paper towels in cleaning activities. Paper towels are common in many personal application including wiping hands and cleaning surfaces. The paper materials cannot be reused, and this creates the need to use a new paper towel for each cleaning activity. Paper towels are products of exploitation of natural resources including forests and contribute to significant greenhouse gas emission during the process of manufacturing and packaging. There are many alternatives to paper towels including washcloths and a cloth rag. These alternatives are cheaply available, and this makes them an effective alternative to paper towels.
Business organizations can also play a major role in reducing the ecological footprint. Many organizations have prioritized the need for ecological sustainability as part of their social responsibility to the people. Walmart and Dell are two of the companies that have invested in reducing their ecological footprint in various ways.
Walmart is one of the leading companies in environmental sustainability through its activities in renewable energy production and waste management. The company has invested in the onsite production of solar power in its retail stores, where the energy requirements for running the stores is generated from solar panels (Walmart, 2017). The solar panels are usually mounted on the roofs of the company’s retail stores, and the aim is to achieve 100% dependence on renewable energy in future. Solar power is clean energy and reduces the environmental impact that would be caused by the high demand of power from the traditional power generating plants. Walmart has invested in waste management programs to reduce the environmental impacts of materials going through its stores. Through the waste management program, the company is able to divert about 80% of materials that would have gone to landfills from its stores in the United States. Walmart has similar waste management programs in its international operations in Japan, Canada, and the UK.
Dell’s environmental sustainability measures include the use of innovative materials for packaging, waste management and better logistics in the supply chain. The company has invested in manufacturing renewable materials for its packaging needs. Dell was the first company to use bamboo cushions to replace the use of foam in packaging electronic devices. The material from bamboo is renewable, and the manufacturing process does not cause environmental damage because of the high growth rate of bamboo. Dell has invested in innovative technology to recycle plastic waste going into oceans in making packaging materials. Estimates show that more than 8 million tons of plastic waste are washed into oceans by flood water, causing significant damage to the ocean ecosystem (Dell Inc., 2017). The company’s activities reduce the overall environmental damage by reusing the plastics to manufacture packaging materials. Dell has initiatives to improve logistics in its supply chain as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emission from transportation of its products in international markets.
My support to these organizations is mainly related to the way I dispose of non-renewable waste materials like plastics. I reduce the cost required to collect the waste materials by disposing of them in a way that they can be easily collected for use in the recycling process. I separate the organic and the non-organic waste to improve the process of recycling the non-organic waste materials.
- Dell Inc., (2017). Green packaging and shipping. Retrieved from http://www.dell.com/learn/il/en/ilcorp1/dell-environment-packaging-and-shipping
- Walmart. (2017). Sustainability. Retrieved from http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/sustainability/