Ecological Footprint (EF) Resources

Created by Ellen Murray, November 2010 ellen1.murray1(at)

The ecological footprint concept was born at UBC and nurtured by Dr. William Rees and his graduate student at the time, Mathias Wackernagel. While the actual science of how to measure humans rate of resource consumption and the ability of the Earth to absorb our waste is still being defined, what is clear is the need for humans to recognize our abuse of natural capital.


Calculating an EF

Teaching Resources

Great Websites

  • The Center for Sustainable Economy - great list of ways to reduce your EF
  • World Wildlife Federation (WWF) - another awesome list of actions to reduce your EF
  • The Story of Stuff - wonderful 20 min summary of the process of extraction, production, distribution, consumpution and disposal.
  • Also now available are the Stories of Bottled Water, Electronics, Cap and Trade and Cosmetics.
  • Anup Shah - Global Issues: The Environment This site has been created and maintained for over 10 years by Anup to help those of us who don't have the time to shift through global news, scientific, political and economic reports. I found this to be a superb starting point to inform myself about the interrelationships between the environment, privatization, poverty, debt, war, aid, population, corporations, trade, health, and sustainability.

EF Resources

  • National Geographic: State of the Earth 2010, Collectors Edition of Earth Pulse – A Visual Almanac. 2009. This is a special edition focussed on population, consumption and the potential for a gentler footprint impact.
  • Wackernagel, Mathis and William Rees. Our Ecological Footprint. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC 1995.
  • Ventoulis, John and John Talberth. Redefining the Ecological Footprint. Accessed Nov 2009. Available at
  • The Ecological Footprint: Accounting for a Small Planet. Go to 31 min This is narrated by Mathis Wackernagel and requires a fair degree of understanding of the concepts of sustainability, natural capital, biocapacity and ecological footprints. It is too dry for most secondary students.
  • The Netherlands Environmental Data Compendium Clearly shows how a government that understands the fundamental value of a healthy environment can collect and share lots of relevant data which can be used by businesses, citizens and the government to make informed decision.
  • human welfare and EF compared Cuba wins.doc - United Nations data shows that Cuba is a clear winner as a country with a small EF and a high Human Development Index. According to analysts this is due to the fact that Cuba weaned itself off of fossil fuels after the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • How Cuba Survived Peak Oil DVD Comprehensive video documenting how Cubans used ingenuity, new technology, resurrected peasant farm techniques and ramped up urban farming to deal with hunger during their "special period".
  • BROL1-Plan_B food.pdf - a transcript of a radio show from Alternative Radio that focuses on better ways to feed all of us (2005)
  • CoolBlueArticle-GVV11206_Interface.pdf - A success story about how a business can thrive using sustainable practices.