PART I – “THE PLAN”

Canada’s average ecological footprint is 7.83 hectares and surprisingly, my footprint is much higher with a total of 9.35 hectares. However, compared to the class average of 10 hectares, my number wasn’t completely out of range. Still, the fact that I contribute approximately 9 hectares to Canada’s total ecological footprint is a truth I do not want to believe. 

Actions that currently increase the size of my footprint are:

  1. Showering over 10 minutes
  2. Flushing the toilet every time 
  3. Wearing only half of the clothes I own
  4. Spending time with family in the car
  5. Spending more than an hour on electronics
  6. Throwing out food 
  7. Eating non-organic meat
  8. Non-environmentally friendly household products
  9. Buying brand new clothes
  10. Spending more than an hour a day in a vehicle 

Deciding which actions to take in order to reduce the size of my footprint was simple however, actually attempting to reduce the size of my footprint was not. 

Actions I can take in order to reduce the size of my footprint are:

1. Never waste food 

Although I only waste a minor portion of food (less than 1/4), the fact that I am still wasting food makes me feel really hesitant. I know that I shouldn’t be scraping food however, there are times when I really cannot finish what I’m eating and if I don’t trash it, then who else will eat it for me? It’ll rot otherwise. A solution to never wasting food would be, taking small portions of food so that there will be rarely any instances where I cannot finish my food. Almost all the time I go for seconds since I’m not full after the first meal. This had led to many instances where I had to throw away my food.

2. Spend less time in a vehicle

Since there are so many extracurricular activities my siblings and I do, most of the time we are outside either transporting from one location to another or doing an activity. Because walking on an highway is extremely dangerous and exhausting, instead of walking to where we do activities, start by walking to school, the library or even the mall. Though the distance is still somewhat lengthy, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

3. Eat no meat for about a week or two

Meat is not only very fattening, it is also increased my ecological footprint quite a bit. Whether it’s chicken, crab, beef, or bacon, all I can say is that I eat it pretty often. However, the fact that humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times is a remarkably shocking yet true fact. Furthermore, 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with livestock. Saving the planet one step at a time is small yet very impactful. For this reason, I am not going to eat meat at all for the next week or two and although it is going to be very hard to not eat meat, I’ll just think of it as an opportunity to become healthy. 

4. Shower for or less than 5 minutes 

I spend a lot of time in the shower and sometimes I don’t even realize. I think that I may have showered for only 10 minutes when in reality, I showered for 20 or even 30 minutes. I think a very reasonable solution would be to bring a clock inside when I shower or, bring in a timer. When the timer starts to ring, that’ll be a sign for me to start wrapping up and heading out. Another solution would be to listen to music while in the shower. A couple years back, my sister started to listen to music while she was in the shower and just out of curiosity, I decided to listen to music while I was in the shower as well. I felt like I needed to come out  before the song started playing twice so I remember rushing while taking a shower. Without realizing it, I started to spend less time in the shower. Of course, after a couple weeks, I got tired of listening to music so I stopped bringing my phone in when showering. 

5. Let the “yellow mellow”

Letting the “yellow mellow” is pretty nasty especially since I’m really sensitive to hygiene. However, every time we flush the toilet, we use two gallons of water so flushing every single time we use the toilet is quite unnecessary. By sending less water down the toilet, we can actually save the environment as well as money. There is a saying that goes like, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, let it down.”

PART II – “THE REFLECTION”

The easy changes:

1. Never waste food

Not wasting a single ounce of food was fairly easy because I ate much less than how much I normally ate and although I was still hungry, there was no food to throw away; only food wanting to be eaten. There were times where I didn’t touch the food at all and instead of throwing it away like I sometimes do, I put it back where I got it from or, if it was my lunch from school, I would eat it as a “pre-dinner” food after I came home from school.  

2. Spend less time in a vehicle 

Spending less time in a vehicle was one the easiest changes I made since walking to school from home is only 30 minutes away. Rather than riding in a vehicle and being in traffic, I felt at ease while walking to school and walking and riding a vehicle doesn’t make much of difference since it’s all downhill. 

3. Eat no meat 

Whenever others ate meat, I was really allured to eat as well. To prevent myself from doing so, I thought of the brutality of killing animals for meat. I mean, we don’t get hunted by “meat-making” animals so that they can have us for lunch, why would we have them? Although meat is an easy source of essential nutrients such as protein and iron, going vegetarian can still provide these nutrients through careful planning. 

4. Shower for or less than 5 minutes

I kept myself more awake while taking a shower and because I knew I had a time limit, it made me more efficient. Bringing a clock inside when taking a shower really benefitted. I knew that I had to leave before the minute hand passed the next number so I remember being utterly rushed but, it did help reduce my carbon footprint. Sometimes my time did go five minutes. There were times when it was about 7 minutes, 8 minutes, and even 12 minutes. Overall though, I did manage to reduce my average showering time by 10 minutes! 

5. Let the “yellow mellow”

Letting the yellow mellow was extremely difficult and there weren’t many easy changes I could make to this one. The one easy change I can think of would be being able to withstand the smell coming from my urine. On a regular basis, I can never endure the strong stench coming from either mine or someone else urine. However, by plugging my nose and spraying Febreeze when entering the washroom, it really helped withstand the smell. 

The difficult changes:

1. Never waste food

I’m a bit of a picky eater and if there are vegetables such as onions, peppers, cucumbers, or sometimes even carrots in my meal, I tend to avoid those and throw them away. It was really hard for me to eat those kinds of vegetables and not throw them away since I was so not used to eating them. At first it was really painful trying to swallow but like the method I used for letting the yellow mellow, I ended up plugging my nose. After a while, I started to get used to the taste and it felt really good on the inside knowing that I’m successfully reducing my carbon footprint. 

2. Spend less time in a vehicle

The distance itself may have been only 1.6km but, going uphill continuously on a hot, sunny day and carrying a backpack as heavy as child was not easy. In order to walk from home to school or vice versa, I had to constantly empty out my backpack as much as I could. The worst part was, I have a separate binder for Japanese and that binder was nearly half of my backpack’s weight. Walking helped increase my stamina however, after a while it started to get really tiring.  

3. Eat no meat 

Though eating no meat for several weeks was quite beneficial, I kept on getting tempted to eat meat when I saw other people eating it. For instance, when my sister was eating chicken, I just couldn’t help myself but wanting to devour the savouring chicken. Although I really wanted to munch one away, I ended up eating a banana and pretending to eat it as if it were a chicken.

4. Shower for or less than 5 minutes

Showering on an average of five minutes really helped finish my day faster but, it also made me feel really rushed. In the beginning, I had trouble trying to finish within five minutes because time was ticking but I wanted to stay warm for at least five more minutes. This led to my shower time decreasing by only 3-5 minutes and not reducing my carbo footprint at all. For a while it stayed like this until I started to bring music in while taking a shower. I mostly kept track of my time through songs since I knew how long each of the songs were. However, I wanted to hear the song again and again which made me stay longer after a while as well. In the end, I ended up keeping track of my time through a clock and it ended up being the most effective. 

5. Let the “yellow mellow”

I had multiple difficulties trying to let the yellow mellow and it was all because of the smell. Yes, I was able to handle the smell but that was only when entering the washroom. At times the smell would spread to other unwanted areas in the house and it would reek. Because of this, I could only let the yellow mellow for about a week. Another difficulty I had was being tempted to flush the toilet in public washrooms. People tend to avoid toilets with yellow already in it and since no one wants to flush someone else’s urine, the washroom starts to smell. I didn’t want to make other people avoid the stall that I had just used and not flushed so, in public washrooms, I ended up flushing my toilet. 

Some obstacles I faced:

Some of these changes were really new to me and like I mentioned about letting the yellow mellow, the stench was too strong to endure and I couldn’t help myself not flushing the toilet when using public washrooms. Due to the fact that I’m also outside most of the time during the day, I ended up continuously flushing the toilet and not be able to reduce my carbon footprint as much compared to the other four actions. 

Another obstacle was spending less time in a vehicle. Even if I walk to school and back, I’m only saving a total time of ten minutes. That’s barely reducing my carbon footprint but it is emitting less greenhouse gases. The year is almost ending so it won’t make sense to reduce the amount of extracurricular activities since everything is coming to end. 

Steps I plan to take in the future:

In the future, I will try to have more activities within the community if possible and even if the ride is long, once in a while, I’ll attempt to walk to where I do my extracurricular activities. Maybe once I grow older I’ll also make an effort to go vegetarian for about a year to further reduce my carbon footprint. Furthermore, I’ll keep in mind that this century could make a break-or-make for climate change and by not reducing my carbon footprint now, I’ll be worsening climate change as well as making the generation after suffer.