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Learning and teaching sustainability: the contribution of Ecological Footprint calculators

Collins, Andrea ORCID:, Galli, Alessandro, Patrizi, Nicoletta and Pulselli, Federico Maria 2018. Learning and teaching sustainability: the contribution of Ecological Footprint calculators. Journal of Cleaner Production 174 , pp. 1000-1010. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.11.024

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Consumption habits imply responsibility. Progressive awareness of the scale of materials, energy, goods and services consumed on a daily basis and knowledge of the implications of consumption choices are prerequisites for designing steps towards sustainable behavior. This article explores, for the first time, the educational value of personal Footprint calculators and their contribution in terms of enhancing awareness of the environmental consequences of consumption behaviors. Our study involved the application of Global Footprint Networks’ personal Ecological Footprint (EF) calculator in teaching aimed at High School and postgraduate University students in two geographical areas (Italy and UK). Students calculated their individual EF, and used the results to explore the environmental consequences of their current consumption behaviors and the effects associated with selected changes in daily consumption activities. Our analysis shows that students were able to appreciate the difference between their individual Footprints and national and global averages. The calculator also enabled them to debate sustainable consumption in the context of their everyday life, inducing them to personally experience the multidimensional character of sustainability. Students finally demonstrated an ability to quantitatively capture how knowledge and awareness of the environmental consequences associated with certain consumption behaviors may facilitate better choices, and encourage greater commitment to sustainable resource use.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Additional Information: Released with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0959-6526
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 November 2017
Date of Acceptance: 5 November 2017
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 23:19

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