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Living with a one planet reality: the contribution of personal footprint calculators

Collins, Andrea ORCID:, Galli, A., Hipwood, T. and Murthy, A. 2020. Living with a one planet reality: the contribution of personal footprint calculators. Environmental Research Letters 15 , 025008. 10.1088/1748-9326/ab5f96

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During the last 50 years, humanity's Ecological Footprint has increased by nearly 190% indicating a growing unbalance in the human-environment relationship, coupled with major environmental and social changes. Our ability to live within the planet's biological limits requires not only a major re-think in how we produce and distribute 'things', but also a shift in consumption activities. Footprint calculators can provide a framing that communicates the extent to which an individual's daily activities are compatible with our One Planet context. This paper presents the findings from the first international study to assess the value of personal Footprint calculators in guiding individuals towards sustainable consumption choices. It focuses specifically on Global Footprint Network's personal Footprint calculator, and aims to understand the profile of calculator users and assess the contribution of calculators to increasing individual awareness and encouraging sustainable choices. Our survey of 4245 respondents show that 75% of users resided in 10 countries, 54% were aged 18–34 years and had largely used the calculator within an educational context (62%). The calculator was considered a valuable tool for knowledge generation by 91% of users, and 78% found it useful to motivate action. However, only 23% indicated the calculator provided them with the necessary information to make actual changes to their life and reduce their personal Footprint. The paper discusses how and why this personal Footprint calculator has been effective in enhancing individuals' understanding of the environmental impact of their actions, framing the scale of the problem and empowering users to understand the impacts of different lifestyle choices. Those individual-level and system-level changes needed to generate global sustainability outcomes are also discussed. Similar to other calculators, a gap is also identified in terms of this calculator facilitating individuals to convert new knowledge into action.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: IOP Publishing
ISSN: 1748-9326
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 December 2019
Date of Acceptance: 6 December 2019
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 04:15

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