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Online environmental footprint calculator now available to more countries (4/19)

April 19, 2010
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Global Footprint Network and Earth Day Network announced in a recent press release an addition to a tool to help individuals all over the world calculate their level of ecological demand and identify the most effective ways for reducing it (www.footprintcalculator.org).

Whether you're a car-pooling vegan from Italy, a frugal homemaker from China or a jet-setting fashionista from Brazil, you can calculate the size of your Footprint on the planet with a new Web tool developed by Global Footprint Network, and hosted on both Global Footprint Network (www.footprintnetwork.org) and Earth Day Network (www.earthday.org) Web sites.

The calculator takes users through a series of questions about their lifestyle, and determines their Ecological Footprint — the amount of land area it takes to produce all the resources they consume and absorb their CO2 emissions. It also identifies their greatest areas of resource consumption and translates this into the number of planets we would need if everyone lived that way.

After receiving their results, users can set targets for how much they'd like to reduce their Footprint, and explore scenarios for reaching their goal (for example, by biking rather than driving to work, eating meat one less day a week, recycling more and reducing new purchases).

"The new global Footprint tool will help bring awareness of our personal impact on the planet to many more countries," said Kathleen Rogers, Earth Day Network President. "This valuable tool can be used in communities and schools to help educate people about how our lifestyle choices affect the environment."

The popular calculator, which had featured geographically-specific data for the U.S., Australia, Switzerland and Calgary, Canada, now has versions for ten new countries:
  • Ecuador — Spanish and English
  • Peru —- Spanish and English
  • Argentina — Spanish and English
  • Brazil — Portuguese and English
  • Italy —- Italian and English
  • Turkey — Turkish and English
  • South Africa — Afrikaans and English
  • India — Hindi and English
  • China — Chinese and English
  • Japan — Japanese and English
Particularly unique to the tool is that it uses geographically-specific data, based on an extensive set of ecological accounts Global Footprint Network calculates annually for over 150 nations. Calculator questions are tailored to the specific housing, transportation, food consumption and purchasing habits of each country. In South Africa, for example, a bakkie — a open-back pick-up truck that carries passengers — counts among the transportation choices. For India, charcoal, crop residue and dung cake are listed along with coal and electricity as heating choices. "Occasional" fish consumption might be defined as one or two servings per day (China), or less than once a week (U.S.). A 100-square-meter home might be "average" (Canada) or "very large." (Ecuador).

"We wanted the calculator to reflect what people in each country would recognize as the typical options," said Meredith Stechbart, Applications manager for Global Footprint Network.

The size of your Footprint varies not only by your lifestyle, but also where you are on the globe. This is because a person's Ecological Footprint includes not only things that they have control over, such as whether they bike or carpool to work, but also things they don't, such as their per-capita share of the country's collective services and infrastructure — things like hospitals, highways, militaries and schools.

"We hope the calculator will show users what kind of changes they can make to reduce their Footprint, and what differences these changes can make," Stechbart said. "But the calculator results also show that the society we live in is an important part of our ecological demand. While individual choices are critically important, so is influencing the larger society to be less resource dependent."

The calculator was developed by Global Footprint Network in partnership with Free Range Studios, creators of the Story of Stuff, with a grant from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

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