Ecological Footprints

Do you believe that the more “things” you want and possess in life, the happier you are? Have you ever participated in the exercise about being stranded on a deserted island? What would you choose if you were given a list of “things” that you could have but you were only allowed to choose a limited few to survive? This is an exercise in determining what is truly “necessary” for human survival. What remains is what humans “want” to have or would like to have for whatever reason.

The following assignment explores consumerism on a basic product or item level and its’ connection to human population growth and each of our ecological footprints. It can make you aware of personal consumption and how human behavior must change if the human population growth rate is to be reduced thereby shrinking our ecological footprints and conserving natural capital.

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PART 1
Choose 2 products or items that you might find in a home or office. The products should be produced, sold and used in the United States or in a relatively affluent country. One product or item will be a simple mechanical and/or electrical device. The other product or item will NOT be mechanical or electrical. Keep it simple for example, a toaster or an automobile, and a plastic bottle or a basketball hoop.

Research each product or item production, manufacture, growth or whatever process is used to make the product or item available for use. Consider in your research the cradle to grave lifespan of the product or item.

For each of the two products or items, answer the following questions and provide the requested information:

Is this a product or item necessary for human survival?
What are the raw materials, chemicals, energy, etc. used to make the product and become part of the product or item?
Is the product made from a renewable resource (ex. A tree) or a limited resource (ex. Oil)?
Can the product and/or materials be recycled or reused and how?
Is there any other method for reducing the materials, chemicals, energy, etc. used to make the product?
Is there any alternative products or substitution for the product?
Describe how the product gets from raw materials to production, manufacture, growth, etc. to the store and then to your home. What is the transportation, energy use?
How is the product or item disposed of or how would it be disposed of? (even if it can be partially recycled or reused)
Does it decompose to basic elements, nutrients if placed in a landfill? If yes, then how long does decomposition take?
List all the negative environmental impacts of production, use and disposal of the product or item.
Would you expect the production of the product or item to most likely increase as the human population increases? If yes, then what impact would you expect on the size of each person’s ecological footprint? (note: keep in mind the product or item production, sale and use is in the United States, a relatively affluent country)
PART 2
Write an essay that explains the environmental connections and relationship(s) among the following three topics:

Human Population Growth
Affluent Consumption
Ecological Footprint
The Essay submitted as a Word document attached to the assignment tool. Your total write-up and explanation should be at least two pages with at least one page of the environmental connections and relationship(s) among the above three topics. The Essay should include the following:

Answer all 11 questions from Part 1.
In Part 2, provide the reference of your essay writing using APA style.
Give your creative ideas on how these articles tie into the material we are covering in class this module. See the syllabus for the assignment due date.
Format the paper in your own words, and include citations and references as needed to avoid plagiarism.

For more information on Ecological Footprints read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_footprint

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