LEaP Report from this project:


Hey What's Your Footprint!


Environmental Education (2008)

Changing behaviour of pupils

This project is part of a New Zealand Science Mathematics and Technology Fellowship, which is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Teacher Fellow: Charlotte Baldwin

Supervisors: Dr.  Susanne Becken and Dr. Will Allen (Collaborative Learning Group at Landcare Research)

Ecological Footprint Calculators have been on the market since the mid 1990s as one method of determining human impact on the environment. The aim of this project is to understand how we can disseminate the information about our lifestyle’s impact (on the environment) to pupils in New Zealand schools. The hypothesis is that the Ecological Footprint tools available on the market are often too complex and have few parameters that have meaning and curiosity for school-aged pupils. The information required to determine one’s impact on the environment can also be difficult for pupils to access readily.

The project is also based on the belief that a child’s has persuasive powers within his or her family. School pupils are incredibly motivated, especially when they truly believe in an issue. If each child could motivate others in their family to reduce their water usage or start a compost heap for the family’s green waste, use public transport or bike to work the environmental benefits would be multiplied. By modifying the behaviour of pupils – and their families - we could achieve substantial gains in saving resources and reducing the size of our Ecological Footprint.

This research will result in the development of two Ecological Footprint tools (both a web-based and wall-planner version) trialled on school-aged children. The parameters of the tool will have relevance to a child’s lifestyle and the information required is accessible. The tool will include parameters that pupils relate to. Under broad themes, these parameters are Connections to the Nature, Travel, Home (Water/Power/Garden), Entertainment, Food. These parameters are all relevant in a child’s life and she or he has some control over them. For example: After using the Ecological Footprint tool a child might decide to reduce the amount of water he or she uses each day by modifying that behaviour. By turning off the tap while brushing one’s teeth, wearing a t-shirt for another day (rather than sending it to the wash) or setting a time-limit for the morning shower will reduce water consumption.

This research will build on the progress made through other Ecological Footprinting tools.


Existing web resources
Here are some useful existing websites that could advise you on practical action that could be taken to lower your impact on the environment:

Sites that are more informative-based:

Local organisations whose sustainable action is thought-provoking and meaningful:

Page last updated on: 05/05/2011