WSU to measure its ecological footprint

PULLMAN –  When it comes to an environmental footprint, bigger is not better.

WSU students, faculty and staff will be able to take an on-line survey April 23 that will help measure their ecological footprint, which is defined as the numbers of acres of land it would take to support their lifestyle.

The survey is part of the Tread Lightly 2007 event, which is being held in conjunction with the Earth Day Network, the worldwide coordinating body for Earth Day events on April 22.

John Glass, coordinator of the WSU Sustainability Initiative, said the confidential survey will be available on-line at on April 23 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (The link will not be live until Monday.) The survey, which will take about 10 minutes to complete, will ask questions about lifestyle choices, including where you live, how you get around and what you eat.

The answers will be used to compute a composite picture of what the ecological footprint of the WSU Pullman campus community might look like. In addition, research and analysis will be done on the different data fields as part of a graduate student’s course work.

“This should help give people an idea of how the choices that they make every day impact the environment. The survey should provide useful information about what changes we could all make to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle,” Glass said. WSU administrators have granted permission to employees to take the survey during work hours, he said.

Organizers plan to submit the total number of completed surveys to become a Guinness World Records holder.

Based on estimates of the global population and the amount of productive land, approximately 4.5 acres are available to each inhabitant. North Americans account for 5 percent of global population, but consume 25 percent of the resources, so the number of acres needed to support our lifestyle is higher than the average.

Earth Day Network,, seeks to grow and diversify the environmental movement worldwide, and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy, sustainable planet. It pursues these goals through education, politics, cultural events and consumer activism. More than one billion people are expected to participate in Earth Day civic activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.

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