Consumption habits imply responsibility. Progressive awareness of the scale of materials, energy, goods and services consumed daily 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 increasing awareness of the environmental consequences of consumer behaviors.
Our study included the application of the Global Footprint Networks Ecological Footprint (EF) calculator in teaching targeting graduate and postgraduate university students in two geographic areas (Italy and the UK).
Students calculated their individual PE and used the results to explore the environmental consequences of their current drinking behaviors and the effects associated with selected changes in daily drinking activities.
Our analysis shows that students were able to appreciate the difference between their individual footprints and national and global averages. The calculator also allowed them to discuss sustainable consumption in the context of their daily lives, leading them to personally experience the multi-dimensional nature of sustainability.
The students ultimately demonstrated an ability to quantitatively capture how knowledge and awareness of the environmental consequences associated with certain consumer behaviors can facilitate better choices and foster a greater commitment to the sustainable use of resources.
You can access the Ecological Footprint Calculator at the following link: http://www.footprintcalculator.org/