Plenty of us want to be sustainable and environmentally conscientious consumers, but how do we determine where to start? The journey of becoming a low-waste and eco-conscious person can be a bit confusing, but there are some resources available that help consumers understand what their next steps should be. Basic information and tips on how to use lest single-use plastic or minimize your carbon impact can be really helpful for broad scale change, but having a data set that directly reflects your impacts can be a great tool for both new and experienced environmentally conscious individuals.

The Ecological Footprint is a quiz created by the Global Footprint Network that measures an individual's consumption, carbon footprint, consumption by land, and the total number of Earth's required to sustain an individual lifestyle.

The personal Footprint calculator is based on National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts data for selected nations. It results in a data archive that uses a country’s average consumption profile to distribute Ecological Footprint into different categories such as food, shelter, mobility goods, and services.

The personal calculator asks questions from the quiz taker that places them relative to national average behavior. For example, if a person indicates that they eat twice as much beef as the national average, their “beef” Footprint will double, which will be reflected in their final score. Likewise, someone who indicates they eat very little beef will receive a fraction of the national average beef Footprint, which will be reflected in a smaller overall Footprint.

The quiz asks you to fill out some basic personal information in order to calculate the amount of Earth’s (specifically the resources available) that would be required to sustain the human population if everyone lived as you do.

Here are some examples of some of the questions the quiz asks:

  • How many members of your household are there?

  • How often do you eat animal products?

  • Compared to your neighbors, how much trash do you generate?

These questions take about 10-15 minutes to answer and at the end provide the quiz taker with some helpful data regarding their ecological impacts. Showcasing an individual’s consumption by category and highlighting areas for improvement.

There are lots of free quizzes such as the Water Footprint Calculator and the Carbon Footprint Calculator that offer specific information in regards to water and carbon usage respectively. We would recommend these more specific quizzes if you are hoping to gain an even more detailed insight into how your impact on the planet can be improved!

These are just a few of the quizzes that are available and each one offers different perspectives on how to improve your consumption habits. We recommend creating some goals for yourself on how to lessen your ecological footprint and then to retake the quiz again and see how much you've improved over time! 

Madeline Simmons