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Academic Work Sample #1

     This is a short written assignment Clayton wrote, which recieved an A+ in a third year sustainability course at UVIC.  Clayton gained knowledge of the environmental impacts that North Americans have on a daily basis, and was able to provide some suggestions of how this could be stopped.





To: Dr. Monika Winn

From: Clayton Greenwood

Cohort: A03

Date: September 14th, 2008

Subject: Individual Assignment #1, “Ecological Footprint”


     After taking the time to calculate my ecological footprint, it is quite evident that myself, along with the majority of people in Canada, must make major changes in our every day lives in order to preserve a “sustainable” planet earth.  This calculation has opened my eyes to how large of a demand human beings place on our ecosystems; a demand that currently exceeds earth’s natural ability to regenerate resources.  In this assignment I will address one particular business innovation and that I believe could significantly reduce one’s ecological footprint not only in Canada, but perhaps on a global scale.


     When calculating my own personal ecological footprint, it became evident that the amount of food an individual consumes has a direct and major impact on one’s global footprint.  In the 21st century it is quite evident that the majority of food consumed by Canadians is purchased in grocery stores, or less frequently from farms directly.  Although there are significant ecological benefits from shopping at local farms (minimal “food miles” etc.) it is still common practice for most farmers as well as grocery stores to sell their products in plastic bags; those familiar to almost every Canadian.  According to research, more than 500 billion of these plastic bags are used throughout the world annually, with each bag taking upwards of 1,000 years to full dissolve or decompose.[1]  The ecological demand of producing and disposing such plastic bags is astronomical; a practice that is simply not sustainable.


     Although paper bags have been proposed as an alternative to plastic, they still consume large amounts of resources and are not nearly as “eco-friendly” as once hoped.[2]  Thankfully, relatively new technology has allowed for the innovation of completely bio-degradable bags; a much more sustainable practice.  These so called “bio-bags” naturally decompose in less then two years, and are much more environmentally friendly to produce compared to plastic or paper.[3]  Imagine if bio-degradable bags like this were implemented into all major grocery stores across Canada, and were also available for personal use; what a simple way to drastically reduce an entire societies’ ecological footprint. 


     This raises a bigger question: why hasn’t change like this already occurred?  There is no simple answer to this, but it is up to individuals to demand change.  Together as a society we have the power to create a positive impact on our environment; a change that will not only be beneficial to us, but for all future generations to come.  We must take initiative and demand that corporations are held responsible for the tolls they have on our environment.  Bio-degradable bags are just one example of taking a step in the right direction.  It is up to businesses of the future to be at the forefront of this inspiring environmental revolution.  I hope to drive and be driven by this, motivated simply by the love I have for our planet earth; the one and only place that every human can truly call home.




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