Indicators of sustainability


According to researchers, men are not able to make fully rational decisions.
Every choice and every decision, therefore, will be more successful if the emotional component is supported by knowledge of the problem to be addressed.

So, know the indicators of sustainability allow us to consciously choose what behaviour we should take to help the planet, and as a result, our survival.

Commonly the term indicator is identified as a tool that can provide information in a concise and simple way to a more complex phenomenon and with wider significance. It is therefore an instrument capable of making visible a trend or a phenomenon that is not immediately obvious.

To measure the environmental sustainability of cities, or other areas , it is necessary to relate the trends: environmental pressure of the assets and the environment’s ability to absorb such changes.

Among the main indicators we see:
– The ecological rucksack
– The ecological footprint
.carbon footprint
.water footprint

The ecological rucksack is an indicator developed by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and the Environment to measure the weight ( in kilograms ) of our consumption on the environment.

So whoever is wearing a black cotton T-shirt, weigh more than 4,500 kg on his shoulders, as much as an adult elephant.

If we throw in the trash a kg of paper, normally we tend to think that we just threw away that kilogram of paper. In fact, we throw away a lot more because there is an industry behind it, the paper mill, and before that there is the cutting of wood, the use of fuel for transportation, energy for processing and transforming, the ‘ wear and tear of machinery, water and much more.

These are called hidden flows i.e the quantities of materials that are not directly linked to the product / service, but which arelinked indirectly to be able to build or deliver.

The ecological footprint is a measure of how much area of biologically productive land and water, the human population requires to produce all the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates, using prevailing technology and resource management practices.

By measuring the footprint of an individual, we can evaluate the pressure we exert on the planet, to help us manage our ecological resources more judiciously and to act in support of a world in which people are able to live within the limits of the planet.

Biocapacity is 1.7 hectares per capita, while the current ecological footprint is over 2.7 per capita. In practice, humanity’s ecological footprint has exceeded the biocapacity of the Earth by more than 50 % (the famous Overshoot).

The carbon footprint measures the impact that our activities have on the environment and on climate changes. It measures the total emissions of greenhouse gases directly or indirectly associated with a product, service or organization.

The emissions of all greenhouse gases are considered, which are converted in kilograms of CO2 equivalent through the parameters that are set globally by the IPCC .

Well, it turns out that along with a bottle of beer, we drink, in addition to the bubbles, one kilogram of CO2.

The water footprint calculates the total volume of water ( in litres or m3 ) necessary to produce goods or services.

The water footprint of a product consists of the total volume, covering the whole production chain of freshwater used to produce that good.


A kilo of beef requires 16 thousand liters of water, instead, a cup of coffee takes 140 liters of water.

The water footprint of a nation is made ​​up of two components: the inner one,which is the amount of water needed to produce goods and services produced and consumed inside the country, and the external one, which is derived from the consumption of imported goods.

We can see that the water footprint of China is about 700 m3 per capita per year, and only 7% falls outside of China. In Japan, however, the water footprint is 1150 m3 per capita per year, but 65% is outside the national borders, which means that Japan drinks water from other countries.

To conclude and to think:
28% of the world population uses 77% of resources;
and 72% of the world population lives with the remaining 23%.

“A man’s got to know his limitations”.
from Magnum Force

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