001 - Resources : Personal Impact

Factual Question

How do our personal choices create (cause) an impact on resource sustainability?


To be able to interpret compound bar charts, proportional circles, and choropleth maps.

Key Terminology

            • Resource
            • Renewable Resource
            • Non-renewable Resource
            • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
            • Ecological Footprint
            • Carrying Capacity

Define the key terms above using the 'Useful Links' below (although I am hoping that you know at least three of them already):

Useful Links

Activity One - Why study resources?

As we often do at the beginning of the unit we watch a YouTube clip or read a series of articles to understand why it is important to study it.

      1. Watch the YouTube clip by Greenpeace and suggest how a spoon links to the concept of consumption.
      2. Watch the YouTube clip by the UN and write down how the SDGs are important to explore when studying resources.


The story of a spoon


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Activity Two - Opinion

Before we start to investigate the types of resources we use, why we use them, and the potential impact that that has on the planet, we are going to explore what you use. Answer the questions below using full sentences.

      1. Write down ten items that you can not live without (leave out food, water, and oxygen as they are essential for survival).
      2. Group the items into two categories renewable and non-renewable by underlining them with coloured pens.
      3. Using a third colour, underline any of the items that can be recycled or reused in some way.
      4. We will then discuss your thoughts with the group.

Activity Three - Skill

As a geographer, it is always good to be able to use data in your answers to illustrate your thoughts. To be able to do this you need to be able to interpret a range of different graphs. For this activity, you will be looking at a compound bar graph and proportional circles.

      1. Using Image One, describe the global trend in energy consumption. Don't forget to include figures to illustrate your answers.
      2. Using Image Two, describe the pattern of food expenditure to GDP per capita.
      3. Using Image Three, describe the pattern of water withdrawal per capita.
      4. Explain the possible relationship between energy consumption, food expenditure, water withdrawal, and wealth. (Hint - consider the level of development of countries, growth of the middle classes, and increasing consumer society.) We will explore this in more detail during our next lesson.

Activity Four - Create

We know what resources are and where the majority of them are consumed. Now let's look at what we personally consume. To do this we are going to explore our ecological footprint.

      1. To remind ourselves of what the ecological footprint is, watch the YouTube clip below and write down how the factors which can impact how the ecological footprint can be calculated.
      2. Using the link in the 'Useful Resources' box, calculate your personal ecological footprint.
      3. As you calculate your ecological footprint write a list of factors that are used to do this.
      4. The class is now going to be divided into four groups to calculate the ecological footprint for four people who have differing lifestyles. The scenarios are in the Padlet below and this is also where I would like you to document your results.
      5. Using the scenarios and your own knowledge, describe the actions and choices that can have the biggest impact on the environment.
      6. Create three targets to help you and your family to reduce your ecological footprint. The targets need to realistic if they are going to work!

Thank you Mr. Reid for the basis of this activity.

Useful Resources

Global Footprint Network - Ecological Footprint

1.78 hectares is approximately 1 planet's worth of resources