The Beauty of Footprinting

photo thanks to

Generally, we think about our ecological footprint in terms of how our decisions affect the planet, the environmental impact of what we personally own, buy, and throw away.

But calculating your footprint and finding ways to reduce it has other consequences you might not have thought of.

Try this: take the quick, simple quiz on  and see where you stand. After taking the quiz, you have a snapshot image, a mental picture of your ecological footprint.

Now, take that mental image, forget about the environment for a moment, and instead focus on how simple your life is. Or rather, how complicated your life is. Imagine ways to reduce your footprint from the perspective of simplifying your life. Think about all the things you own, the money you spend, and what you throw away.

Would reducing each of these parts of life make things simpler? If life was simpler, would you have more time and energy to focus on what you want to do, instead of what you have to do?

OK, now, still holding that image of your current ecological footprint in your consciousness, forget about the environment, forget about simplicity, and instead focus only on your finances. Think about all the things you own, the money you spend, and what you throw away. Would your financial situation improve if you focused on reducing your footprint? Would you have more money if you consumed less and had fewer things to maintain, repair, replace, and throw away?

By reducing your footprint, you inevitably make your life simpler and less expensive while simultaneously living a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

Leave a comment


  1. Crystal clear, and absolutely beautifully stated common sense (which unfortunately isn’t all that common). Thanks for a great post!

  2. My footprint was 2.78. If I didn’t drive to JC so much and had a smaller house it would have been much smaller. So what is your footprint???? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

    • Based on the “quick quiz” in Radical Simplicity ours is roughly 4.75. For five of us. It’s about as close as we’re going to get at this time in our lives and still be somewhat “normal,” participating in activities for the kids and our own extra-curricular activities. We could be radical homesteaders and get our number down, but no. There are too many awesome things we’d miss without our car. We want the kids (and us) to be able to EXPERIENCE life. Sometimes that means burning fossil fuels. Long term, I want better alternatives, but right now, we work with what we’ve got and do the best we can.

      Thank you for commenting.


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