Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Human Footprint

Human Footprint

Ellen Kirk
For ages 8 to 11
National Geographic Children's Books, 2011   ISBN: 978-1426307676

Not that long ago, the term “footprint” was only used to describe the mark a foot left in a soft or damp surface. Now it means something much more, referring to the amount of resources a person consumes in a period of time. Most people don’t think about how many miles they will drive in a year, how many newspapers they will read, or how many bottles of water they will drink. Why should we care about these numbers anyway?

Unfortunately, we do need to care about these numbers because we are using up and throwing away far too much. Our poor planet cannot keep up with the rate that we humans are consuming and throwing away resources.

In this book, the author uses photographs and numbers to help her readers see how enormous the average American person’s footprint is. For example, we are presented with a picture of thousands and thousands of loaves of bread. The page is covered with bread, and we are told that we will eat 87,520 slices of bread in our lifetime, which is the equivalent of two tons.

On another page we see that we will eat 14,518 bars of candy, which “is enough to fill 12 shopping carts.” Then there is the $52,972  that we will spend on clothes. To say that these numbers (and the others you will see in the book) are staggering is an understatement.

The author wraps up by talking about what we can do to make our footprint smaller. She gives us seven simple tips that every single one of us can easily incorporate into our lives. These include: not wasting food, using less plastic, and getting around using people power instead of vehicle power.

Young people will be fascinated to see what their footprint looks like. The numbers and images will help them to better understand that each one of us has a big impact on our planet, and that we all need to make the effort to lessen that impact if we can.