"Footprint is a way of thinking about our consumption and how it impacts the environment," says Alexis Morgan. "Every dollar we spend is a vote for the way in which we'd like to see the world."
If you were to choose a single word to define the life and work of Alexis Morgan, that word would be footprint. Former WWF-Canada Senior Manager of Ecoregion Planning and GIS Operations, Alexis spent much of his six years there refining his understanding of this powerful concept.
"Footprint is a way of thinking about our consumption and how it impacts the environment," he says. There's a quantity and quality to everything we consume. Assessing footprint is a way of measuring that." For Alexis, membership in the Living Planet Community is really all about finding ways to lessen our collective carbon footprint and joining a community of others doing the same.
A pioneer member of the Living Planet Community, there's no doubt that Alexis walks the walk. He belongs to a local food box program, subscribes to a renewable energy provider, and insists as a matter of course on things like energy efficient lighting and low-flow shower heads. But having completed his MBA at York University's Schulich School of Business, he also understands the broader economic forces that mediate his own decisions.
"Every dollar we spend," he explains, "is a vote for the way in which we'd like to see the world."
Armed with that insight, Alexis is a committed recycler. "Each time we manufacture something, we create a footprint. If I use a product after someone else has used it -- rather than buying one newly made -- I've divided that footprint in two." He points to his blue jeans. "I always buy mine second-hand," he says. "They're already worn in so they're more comfortable. They are far, far cheaper, and best of all, their footprint is measurably lighter."
The concept of footprint and its value as a tool for combating global warming was an idea born in Vancouver and nurtured on North America's West Coast. "That's why I moved there," he says. "Vancouver is one of the world's focal points for footprint work."
But of course relocating across the country had footprint implications of its own. Alexis and his partner were faced with the conundrum of making the move with minimal environmental impact.
"The first thing we did was give away or sell as much of our stuff as possible, especially the heavy pieces." Stove, fridge, television and big appliances were therefore left behind for other people's use. The next decision centered on mode of transportation. "There's no getting around the fact that flying is the worst way to go in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. It's as bad as driving around in a Hummer." Alexis and his partner opted to make whatever carbon they consumed serve a double purpose by combining the move with their vacation. They took their time driving west in a fuel efficient car, camping and eating local foods along the way.
"One by one, our actions and decisions add up," says Alexis. "That, in essence, is what the Living Planet Community is all about - understanding the implications of footprint." And if there's one thing he's certain of, it's the power of consumers to affect conservation ... for better or for worse:
"We all need to learn to tread more lightly, and in a smaller shoe size."