The actions of humans have a negative impact on the ecology and the environment around us. The degree of pollution which is emitted into the environment as a result of the human actions, the industrial activity as well as the way humans lead their lives has been lading the world towards an imminent environmental crisis. Humans have been exploiting the environment and it resources at an increasing state predicts that they will be left with little or no resources to sustain their current activities.
In lights of these problems, steps have been taken to explore use of eco printing for sustaining the environment for the future. This paper provides a critical review of the article Can be used successfully to encourage more sustainable behaviour at the household level? by Marcus Sutcliffe, Paul Hooper and Ros Howell
Summary of the Research Article
The article highlights that the aggressive activity being conducted by the humans has reached to a level of over capacity amounting to 20 percent which cannot be met by the resources provided by the environments and nature. As a result drastic actions have to be implemented form now in order to stop the usage in overcapacity by humans and of conducting activities in a more environmental friendly manner.
For this Sutcliffe, Hooper & Howell explore eco foot printing and how we can make use of the concept to monitor and reduce the negative impact of human activities on the environment. The article depicts that eco foot printing technique provides us with the potential to protectively measure how the global unsustainable consumption is related with the lifestyle of the people. Through this technique the individual consumption as well as the components of waste can be converted into and which has the ability to be bio-productive. The nature and the characteristic of this land is to encourage and sustain the activity of the humans while minimizing the impact o the environment.
Sutcliffe, Hooper & Howell have conducted an empirical pilot study which seeks to determine whether the eco foot printing analysis technique can be employed at the level of the individual households to see whether it can result in any change in the lifestyles of the households towards a less resource intensive and a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. The results of the study under taken in the article indicate that using the ecological foot printing technique, the change in the individual households lifestyles can have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the use of scare resources by the households.
Arguments Presented in the Article
The arguments that are presented by Sutcliffe, Hooper & Howell in the article pertain to the fact that eco footprinting analysis technique has been used by each and every household to reduce their respective contribution to the environmental crisis which would also reduce the level of their economic footprint. The authors ground their argument on the fact that if humans live sustainable by utilizing the resources and the products which are renewable in nature, the resources that are used up by humans can be replaced over a smaller period of time which can increase sustainability of the resources in the long run.
The authors support their theory by drawing form different researches conducted by environment monetary agencies which depict that the effect of increasing footprints on other species is significant; as footprints increase, biodiversity reduces. (Sutcliffe et al., 2007) The report provided by Sutcliffe et al presents that the of the households do not poise a threat to the environment, but their combined footprint does have a significant negative impact on the environment and its availability of resources.
Therefore when the individual households adjust their lifestyles including their way of spending, their behaviour relating to use of eco friendly transportation methods, nourishment of nature as well as the management of their energy consumption and waste management reduced the overall footprint for the cumulative households on the environment
Through the pilot study that is conducted as part of the research, the authors present that there is definitely a link between the environmental attitudes and the future state of the environment with the activity conducted by human, their lifestyles and their behaviour. The study pointed out that when the respondents accepted responsibility for their actions and changed their way of living, their lifestyles and behaviour pertaining to consumption of human resources and the management of waste, their efforts resulted in reducing the amount of pollution and exploitation of the environment and its resources.
Aside from this, the cumulative impact of all the respondents was also significant as each of the participants contribution lead to a greater degree of sustainability and renewal of the environment and its resources.
The Main Points Discussed in the Article
The lifestyles, the behaviour as well as the activities undertaken by individuals can greatly effect the environment. The current trend however is towards the exploitation of the environment and its resources which does not provide for sustainability for the future as most western countries are operating at over capacity. A study conducted by Rees provided that whenever a population grows beyond carrying capacity, the environment is degraded and future carrying capacity is reduced with climate change, ozone depletion, sea level rise, deforestation, fish stock collapses, land degradation, etc (Rees, 2007) aside from this the environmental degradation also leads to displacement of the species form their original habitats which limits their changes of survival resulting in extinction.
Individuals can monitor and reduce their ecological footprint by changing their behaviour and lifestyles when it comes to using and utilizing the natural resources like water, plants, lands and the man made resources which use up natural resources like electricity. Aside from this the consumption pattern of the individuals and their waste management practices can also reduce the on the environment.
The authors of the research article presented in their discussion of the pilot study undertaken that when the households took an active part in managing their waste, and participated in recycling greatly contributed to the reduction of the combined foot print for the households. High levels of engagement with household waste reduction coincided with the introduction of a more extensive door to door recycling scheme in one area containing 12 households in the study. The scheme was introduced during the studys duration, thereby maximizing the potential for participants to change behaviour (Sutcliffe et al., 2007)
The individuals can reduce their ecological footprint by using less of the natural resources and making the utilization more efficient. People can reduce their water usage by installing flow reduction systems in the water dispensers and the water showers at their homes. Routine maintenance of plumbing and fixing of leaks can also significantly reduce the amount of water consumed at homes.
Moreover in regions where there is plentiful rainfall, the rain water tank can be use to supplement the water source at homes. When it comes to reducing the utilization of energy, people can reduce the use of standby devices which use up to ten percent of the energy bill. Aside from this investment in insulation of homes, and shutting down lights, fans and appliances which are not in use can also greatly reduce the electricity bill as well as the eco footprint of the households. Individuals can also reduce their use of energy and fuel by using public transportation or using hybrid cars for transportation.
Alternatively people can also take up walking and cycling to reduce use of carbon emitting vehicles for transportation. Encouraging walking and cycling around the development and, if possible, to public transport nodes can reduce the transport component of residents eco-footprint. (Baynes, 2008)
For reducing waste, reducing the consumption can directly lead to generation of less waste by households. The bio degradable waste form the kitchen can be used as soil and compost by recycling while using consumer durables packaged in bio degradable or recycled and recyclable packaging can also greatly reduce the ecological foot print of the households. In his article titled Calculate your eco-footprint and save a planet in Western Mail, Williams also supports the view point and the arguments presented by Sutcliffe, Hooper and Howell by stating that consumers can reduce one planet worth of resources through taking actions such as recycling; reducing the volume of goods bought or by using less oil and gas to heat our homes (Williams, 2007)
The article by Sutcliffe, Hooper and Howell provides comprehensively the relationship between the ecological foot print and the behaviour of the households which can directly impact the sustainability of the environment in the future.
The research that is conducted by the authors is comprehensive and valid while the ideas proposed for monitoring and managing their ecological footprint are also very practical. The one criticism about the article or the arguments presented by the authors is the application of the conditions and strategies used in the pilot study to the real world. People are comfortable with how they live and are resistant to change. As a result it can take significant effort to get households outside the test environment to improve their behaviour and lifestyles for a more sustainable environment.