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ecological footprint (click for larger image)Drawn by Phil Testemale, our logo symbolizes the need to reduce the size of our ecological footprints - the amount of land and sea area we use to sustain our current lifestyles. Phil Testemale illustrated the book "Our Ecological Footprint", written by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees. The ecological footprint analysis tool will be instrumental in changing corporate and government policies and monitoring progress towards ecological, social and economic sustainability.

What's an Ecological Footprint?

Mathis Wackernagel is currently Director of the Indicators Program with the organization Redefining Progress, a San Francisco-based think-tank which is a leading provider of information on the ecological footprint concept, as well as genuine progress indicators, the environmental tax shift, and climate protection. Some of the information below has been adapted from material produced at Redefining Progress. Those seeking more information should visit the organization's web site at www.rprogress.org/ and go to the eco-footprints page. Mr. Wackernagel also serves as Coordinator of the Centre for Sustainability Studies at the Universidad Anáhuac in Xalapa, Mexico. The Centre's main research activity currently is to update and improve the ecological footprint accounts of nations. Information, an extensive bibliography, and links to other web sites regarding the ecological footprint concept can be found at the Centre's web page at www.edg.net.mx/~mathiswa/#centre.

The Ecological Footprint measures human impact on nature. Since every one of us consumes what nature offers in order to live, it is important we don't take more from the Earth than it has to offer. The Ecological Footprint measures what we consume of nature. It shows how much productive land and water we occupy to produce all the resources we consume and to take in all the waste we make.

"All our activities must be adapted with regard to the limits that nature can accept in the form of resource consumption and pollution."
Electrolux Vision, 1998 Environmental Report

How big is your Ecological Footprint? The average Canadian requires 17 acres (or 7 hectares) of biologically productive land and 2.5 acres (or 1 hectare) of ecologically productive sea space, to provide their current level of consumption. These add up to 20 acres or 20 football fields. The average American uses 25 acres (or 25 football fields) to support his or her current lifestyle while the average Italian requires 10 acres (or 10 football fields).

How much can nature provide? Nature provides an average of 5.5 acres of bioproductive space for every person in the world. With a global population of 10 billion for the year 2050, the available space will be reduced to 3 acres. This should also give room for the 25 million other species. Already, humanity's footprint may be over 30 percent larger than what the world has to offer as it consumes more than what nature can provide.

What can we do? We can become part of the sustainability movement and make more intelligent use of finite resources such as timber, minerals, and energy. We can utilize all available means of conserving energy. Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek, of Germany's Wuppertal Institute, argues that creating a sustainable materials economy would require a 50-percent reduction in worldwide materials consumption - which translates into a 90-percent reduction in industrial countries. We need to cease defining ourselves as consumers and become true stewards of the Earth.

"We are living on the knife's edge of one of those rare and momentous turning points in human history. Livable lives for our grandchildren, their children, and the children's children hang in the balance."
Dee Hock, founder, president, CEO emeritus VISA

Business must play a central, even leading, role in shifting the world on to the sustainable development path. To that end, a new business paradigm is emerging. The successful businesses of tomorrow will be those that rank social and environmental responsibility on the same level with economic profitability.

"Sustainability is the key word for the future. Our ambition is to work step by carefully thought-out step, and with great respect, towards a business based on sound ecological principles. It is not enough to be friendly toward the environment - we must adapt to it."
Anders Moberg - President, IKEA

If your business hopes to become sustainable - and is committed to sustainable development - the key issue is to align corporate policies, procedures, practices, and real systems. Starting at the bottom and going all the way to the top, everything must be in line to support sustainability.

"Sustainable development is a business issue that needs to be made a reality in each line function in every business."
Stephan Schmidheiny

Zero Waste Solutions can help your business develop the strategies to compete in a complex and fast-paced world. We can provide the scenario-based tools to give your business a triple bottom line - not just the traditional bottom line of profitability, but also the emergent bottom lines of environmental quality and social justice. We want to help businesses find ways of reducing their ecological footprints. Whether by minimizing waste, energy, or raw materials, your business will have a competitive advantage through eco-efficiency.

Your business has always been concerned about the bottom line, but the successful business of tomorrow will be influenced by the triple bottom line - profitability, environmental quality and social justice.

"Efficiency is one of the hallmarks of the well-run business, and the gratuitous exploitation of natural resources is wildly inefficient. The modern industrial system is no more than one percent efficient when all material and energy inputs are considered."
Paul Hawken

Give your business a sustainable future. Contact Michael Jessen at Zero Waste Solutions: 250-229-5632 or zerowaste@shaw.ca


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"Any design element that has only one function is probably a mistake or a missed opportunity. We ought to strive for multiple and diverse functions of each element so we pay once and get many benefits."
Amory Lovins

 


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