Action Areas

Focusing on Domains

Tracking our ecological footprint helps us to get serious about sustainability in terms of the numbers. 

In Vancouver, food is the largest footprint domain – so reducing wasted food and shifting to more plant-based diets, especially less red meat and dairy consumption, are substantially higher impact than targeting food transportation and supporting local food production.

When we ran the numbers, these are the biggest potential Footprint-reducing contributions we can make: [1][2]

  • Make most trips by walking, cycling and transit
  • Reduce wasted food, post-purchase
  • Eat more green (veggies and legumes!) and white (such as chicken) – and reduce red meat consumption
  • Improve energy efficiency in buildings
  • Reduce paper consumption

Shifting the System

90% of the footprint of goods is upstream in the embodied material and energy from production.

We can make a big difference when we focus on ways to reduce overall consumption – rather than managing waste through recycling or composting.

Promising areas include:

  • Focusing on sharing, reuse and repair of goods – rather than buying new or throwing away.
  • Moving away from ownership of goods and towards access to services, such as through car-sharing or a tool library.
  • Encouraging sustainable lifestyle shifts during life transition moments, when habits are more flexible. This can include moving house, retiring or having a child.
  • Supporting shifts in our buying habits and options, whether as individuals or as part of an institution.

Strength in Numbers

What are some of the communities you belong to?

We’ve learned that behavior change is supported by engaging people in collective action rather targeting individuals on their own.

Focusing efforts on key constituencies such as neighbourhoods, workplaces, and students, holds promise for advancing sustainable ways of living through cooperation, peer learning and exchange.

How can we work together to drive change?

What can we do that helps everyone live more lightly, from organizing a swap meet for clothes to aligning the company’s pension plan with our values.

[1] Insights here are informed in part by the research contained in: BCIT, Jennie Moore and Cora Hallsworth (2017) ecocity Footprint Tool Pilot: City of Vancouver Summary Report. Vancouver.
[2] Jennie Moore, Getting Serious About Sustainability: Exploring the Potential for One-planet Living in Vancouver, submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for PhD degree (Vancouver: School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, 2013).