TEACH!: Unit 7, Lesson 1.

City Living: Urban Ecology:

Understanding and Reducing
Your Ecological Footprint


Students will increase their awareness of the impact that their lifestyle has on the surrounding ecosystem. They will learn through brainstorming and investigation how to reduce this ecological footprint and live more sustainably.


  • Computer(s) with internet access
  • Paper and pens


It is important for humans to understand that although urban centers seem removed from the “natural world”, we are very much a part of the ecosystem. Our every action has an effect on the health of the surrounding ecosystem. Because it is estimated that 60% of the global population will live in a metropolitan setting by 2030, it is essential that we learn to live more sustainably, minimizing the negative impacts we have on the ecosystem.

The ecological footprint quiz calculates the area of land and ocean necessary to support an individual’s consumption and waste production over the course of a year. As a conclusion, the quiz compares your footprint to the average footprint in America and other countries and provides tips for reducing your impact.


1.  Discuss with the group the ways that humans impact their environment. Make sure to discuss that humans are part of the ecosystem and exert a disproportional amount of control on ecosystem processes.

2. Have the students take the quiz online. If not enough computers are available for everyone to take the quiz in a reasonable amount of time, have three students take the quiz or have the students work together to take the quiz as an “average” person.

3. After the quiz is completed, bring the group back together for a discussion. Compare the students with each other and against the averages from other countries. Identify the areas, if possible, where the students live most unsustainably. Brainstorm ideas of how they can reduce their ecological footprint.

4. The instructor should wrap-up the activity by summarizing the effect that human lifestyles have on the ecosystem, especially in an urban context. Leave the students with a positive message by summarizing the ways that they can minimize their ecological footprint and live more sustainably.


Ecological Footprint Quiz. Created by the Center for Sustainable Economy. http://www.myfootprint.org/ .

Continue to:
Unit 7, Lesson 2.:  Designing a Community with Storm Water in Mind.

Go Back to:
Unit 6, Lesson 2: Forest Management.

Updated: May 2018