Ecological Footprints

Ecological Footprints and the Ecological Footprint Quiz

An ecological footprint is a calculated measurement of how much an individual’s lifestyle affects the health and resources of the environment.  Various categories are combined to make the whole footprint.  The goods and services part of the footprint, for example, tallies how much stuff we buy and use and incorporates ecological costs of manufacturing, transportation and waste associatied with those goods.  The carbon footprint measures how much an individual or entity contributes to net carbon dioxide emissions.  The energy footprint deals with the effects of all the energy we use. (The energy footprint is often used interchangeably with the carbon footprint, but it does include a little more as our energy footprint deals with land and other issues as well as carbon.) 

To help with visual understanding, the ecological footprint is sometimes given in acres or hectares, but is also calculated as how many planet Earths would be required if everyone on the planet lived like we do.  While there is only ONE Earth, most Americans live a lifestyle that takes several Earths to support.

The Earth is not going to get any bigger.  As the human population gets bigger and as we continue to use and exploit more and more of its resources, we will experience more and more issues.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that individuals can make changes, and if enough of us do that, we can see the changes happen on a large scale.   

Take this quiz to find out how many Earths it would take to support humans if everyone lived like you do.  Then find out how to reduce your footprint.

Ecological Foot Print Quiz



  • Retake the quiz from the perspective of someone from another country
  • Retake the quiz and see how low (or high) you can get your footprint in hypothetical situations
  • Click on the links at the end to see choices that could help you reduce your footprint