Environmental actions to reduce household ecological footprints

Roy, Robin and Caird, Sally (2001). Environmental actions to reduce household ecological footprints. International Journal of Environmental Education and Information, 4(2) pp. 315–332.


This paper presents the ideas of UK householders on how to reduce their Ecological Footprint (EF) after applying a tool called 'EcoCal', which assesses the environmental impacts of households by measuring footprints arising from Transport, Energy, Shopping, House and Garden, Water and Waste. Analysis of the EcoCal results of nearly 700 adult Open University (OU) student households showed that transport and energy impacts are the biggest contributors to the household footprint. Reducing these impacts poses the greatest challenge to achieving a globally sustainable household EF of approximately 0.5 hectares per person. Analysis of the ideas that the OU students were prepared to consider to reduce their household EF revealed a variety of technical and behavioural changes. However, in the context of their own household, the OU students identified several constraints on the implementation of their environmental action plans. Despite such constraints, many of the students instigated changes that helped to make their households more sustainable.

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