Minimising your ecological impact
How much land and water do we need to support our modern lifestyles?
Australia has one of the highest ecological footprints of any nation in the world, a footprint around three times the global average. The 'footprint' is the calculation of all the resources it takes to give us the quality of life or the lifestyle we're accustomed, that is, the energy, the water, the food and materials required to manufacture and produce all the goods and services we consume.
Current estimates show that Australians on average, consume the equivalent of 3 to 4 Planets of natural resources each year, a clear indication that our consumption behavior and practice, including the amount of waste generated each year on a per person basis is less than sustainable into the future.
At Randwick, we're working on programs and projects, campaigns and events aimed at responding to the patterns of consumption and behaviour that contribute to this very high ecological footprint. Of course it's a long process and involves individuals and organisations helping along the way. One step in the process is understanding what the ecological footprint measures so we can respond to the findings in a positive and constructive way for the future generations who rely on us leaving the Planet and its resources in a more sustainable position than its currently facing.
What can we do to at the same rate as the Australian average, we would need the equivalent of 3 to 4 Planets of these resources each year.
What does it measure?
The ecological footprint takes into consideration:
- How we live at home
- How we travel
- Where our food comes from
- The goods and the services we buy
- The amount of waste generated.
What can you do?
As well as working with our residents to reduce the consumption of natural resources, Randwick Council is also working with Waverley and Woollahra Councils to help reduce the ecological footprint across the homes, schools and businesses of the Eastern suburbs.
While this cooperation with our neighbouring Councils began with a 3-year project funded via the New South Wales Government Environmental Trust the Councils decided to continue with the partnership once this funding was spent. Much of our current focus is looking at the available actions which target specific areas of our ecological footprint, for example, wastes produced, energy and water used and how we can help residents make their own changes at home, at school and at work.
Your Ecological Footprint @ Home
Everything we do can impact on the environment. Measuring our ecological footprint is an important step in understanding how we affect the environment, and the news isn't always good.
At home our ecological footprint is influenced by our energy use, transportation choices, how we shop, what we buy and what we throw away. Making some simple changes can reduce our individual ecological footprint without significantly impacting our quality of life.
What you can do today:
- Visit the Barrett House Sustainability Demonstration Project in Randwick and see for yourself what can be done do to retrofit your home on a budget
- Endorsed by David Suzuki, Randwick Council has been working with the Sustainability Street Institute on the Ecological-Fingerprint which can help individual's understand and reduce their ecological footprint on a day-to-day basis
- Join the Compost Revolution and prevent the wasteful transport of food scraps to landfill where they produce harmful greenhouse gases. Residents can receive a FREE compost bin or wormfarm if they complete a workshop or online tutorial and quiz. The program also offers advice and assistance for schools and community groups
- Support local cafés that are supporting the environment by bringing your own coffee cup. You'll get a discount and help save 46 million+ single-use coffee cups and lids from going to landfill. Because most disposable cups have a plastic lining, they are not recyclable and many end up in landfill or our environment. Find the Responsible Cafes in your local area.
Best GRINEnter our GReen INnovation (GRIN) competition. It doesn't matter whether your ideas are for the home, your school or workplace, we'd love to hear from you.
Best Gift campaignFind ideas for eco-friendly gifts. Reduce your eco-footprint by giving presents that are organic, reduce landfill, enrich mind and body, or are long-lasting.
Barrett HouseBarrett House is located at 6 Barrett Place Randwick. The house has been converted into a showcase of sustainable living for residents to see practical sustainability measures at work.