Did you know that you not only have a footprint, but also a “handprint”? Many people are not yet familiar with this term. It’s high time to change that. Growing your handprint is just as important as reducing your footprint.
When we tell other people about their your handprint, a smile immediately appears on their faces. And that’s for a good reason… 🙂 To give you a good idea of what the handprint is and how you can use your handprint to grow your positive impact, we will first briefly explain what your footprint is. Then we share 3 tips for an effective approach and 10 ways to grow your own handprint.
What is your ecological footprint?
Your ecological footprint is the space required for your lifestyle and is calculated in hectares. Everything we do and consume adds to the size of our footprint; what we eat, drink, wear, how we live, travel and so on. The Earth gives us everything we need, but the problem is that we use more than the Earth can naturally regenerate. Globally we live like we have 1.7 Earths, but we only have one. That is why it is important to reduce your footprint (= negative impact), for example by taking sustainable actions in the field of energy, food, water, travel, circularity, CO2, etc. But there is more you can do!
What is your ecological handprint?
Your ecological handprint is your positive impact on the Earth. Every time you inform, inspire or activate other people to reduce their footprint, you are growing your handprint. In this way you, as an individual, you can create a lot of positive change! Isn’t that great?!
We all know “A better environment starts with you”. Yet all those sustainable actions to reduce your footprint, such as turning off the light more often, using less water, and eating more vegetarian food, can sometimes feel like a drop in the ocean. And of course it is, unless we all do it together…! That’s why it’s so important to grow your handprint. Only together we can create a sustainable future.
3 ways for an effective approach
We are happy to help you grow your handprint. This way we grow our positive impact too, it’s that simple! But before we do, we share 3 tips for an effective approach.
1. Set the right example
If you want to inform, inspire or activate others to reduce their footprint, it’s important to set the right example. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, everyone has their own challenges and “Footprint Sins”. But if you heat your home to the max and try to inspire others to turn their heating down, you can forget about it 😉 Share with others which sustainable actions you do, tell them why you do them and also share what your challenges are. By sharing both successes and struggles you can really inspire others.
2. Start a conversation
Climate change is a sensitive subject for some people, especially when it comes to their own behaviour. Create a safe environment by being open, non-judgmental and curious. Ask questions and listen to the other person (the secret of a good conversation) and don’t expect miracles right away. Sustainability often goes step by step.
3. Focus on hope, courage and action
Many people are concerned about climate change. It’s good to talk about it, but just sharing concerns won’t get us anywhere. Now more than ever, it’s time for hope, courage and action! Focus on that in your conversations with others. Let’s face it, it’s more fun to be part of the solution instead of the problem. So make sure that the other person feels like taking action and wants to take steps together to create a sustainable future.
Behavioural change is possible and with the right tips and support, it is a beautiful sustainable journey of discovery. If you’re reading this, you can probably relate to that. We also see this every day with participants of our Footprint Challenges.
10 ways to grow your handprint
Now is the time for action! How can you grow your handprint? It is good to first realize how much reach you have as an individual. You have different roles in life and in all those roles you can inform, inspire and activate other people to take sustainable steps. Map out your reach and then see which steps you can take. We share examples and tips.
1. Family & friends
Tell family and friends about the sustainable steps you are taking, exchange ideas and experiences or get started together. Focus on specific topics that are relevant for the other person, to make a real impact.
Energy: together with your family or housemates, make a list of agreements to save energy at home; turn off the light when you leave a room, lower the heating by 1-2 degrees, use power strips to prevent standby consumption, etc. Let everyone think about sustainable solutions and see how you can turn some actions into a game and have fun. For example: “Who can take the shortest shower?” Keep track of it with a timer or shower hourglass.
Food: surprise a meat lover with a delicious plant-based meal. Or organize a leftover dinner in which everyone brings leftovers. This way you make friends more aware of food waste.
Travel: invite someone who drives the car every day to go on a train trip for a day and experience together how fun and easy it is.
What actions can you come up with yourself and for whom? Here’s another nice tip which you can apply in any field of sustainability.
Tip: birthdays or other occasions are the perfect time to inspire with a sustainable gift and reach several people at the same time. Examples: give a useful gift such as an LED lamp or water-saving shower head and tell others about the benefits, give a second-hand gift and tell others about the impact of stuff and recycling, make a donation to a charity or plant trees in the name of the recipient.
Do you want to live in a sustainable and green neighbourhood? Then get to work with your neighbors! Brainstorm ideas together, make a plan and involve your municipality if necessary. Together you stand strong!
Make your neighborhood green:Replace sidewalk tiles with a facade garden. More greenery offers space for bees and other pollinators, has a cooling effect and ensures cleaner air. First check with your municipality what the rules are.
Keep the neighbourhood clean: Make agreements together to keep the neighbourhood clean. For example, clean up a piece of litter every day or organise a monthly clean-up campaign. Bram, a former participant of the Footprint Challenge, managed to mobilise not only his neighbourhood but the entire village to clean all the streets during a clean-up day. How many people can you mobilise?
Purchase solar panels: Don’t you and your neighbours have solar panels yet? See if you can purchase them together or look at the possibilities of renting solar panels.
Share stuff and cars: sign up for Peerby together with your neighbours, so you can easily borrow things from each other. And is your neighbourhood full of cars that are hardly used? See if you can borrow each other’s car or check out the options for a joint neighbourhood car.
Schools, sportclubs etc: do you have children? Help make your children’s school or sports club more sustainable.
You may see them most of all; your colleagues! So there is a big opportunity there. Every day we help organisations and their employees to take sustainable steps, at home and at work. This is how we bring sustainability to life across the organisation, from work floor to the boardroom, and beyond. Do you want to make an impact together with your colleagues? Discover our 40-day programme. Want to get started right away? Share your sustainable steps and challenges with colleagues and brainstorm together about solutions to make your organisation more sustainable.
4. Social media network
Thanks to social media, your social circle goes beyond family, friends and colleagues. Grab that chance! Share your sustainable steps and challenges on social media, so we can learn a lot from each other. Do you have a sustainable idea? Bring it to the attention of the right people. Send a DM or tag a person or organisation.
5. Your work
The number of sustainable jobs is rising rapidly. More and more people want to contribute to a sustainable world with their work. You can do this by working for a sustainable organisation or by taking on a sustainable role in an organisation where a lot still needs to be done. This is how you can create change from within. Do you want to contribute an extra bit? Register as a volunteer with a charity or an environmental organisation.
6. Other companies and organisations
How can you positively influence companies and organisations? That might sound challenging, but you do that (unconsciously) every day. Your choices as a consumer have a direct impact on companies and organisations. By making sustainable choices and buying less or differently (second hand), you can influence the supply.
You can also encourage organizations you are part of to make sustainable choices, for example by sending them an email, posting a message on social media or taking joint action. For example, participants of the ABP have taken action together with activists, which has encouraged ABP (the largest pension fund in the Netherlands!) to withdraw from investments in fossil fuel producers.
And also nice to know: the CEO of Tata Steel (one of the leading steel manufacturing companies) was stimulated by a text message from his sister to take a radically different approach. Sometimes rational arguments are not the deciding factor, but rather the sender. Which influential people do you know?
Your vote counts! By speaking out and voting, you influence who represents you. You can also become active within a political party or movement. You can also make your voice heard by signing a petition or participating in a demonstration and bring important issues to the attention of decision-makers.
8. Financial resources
Make sure your savings, investments & pension are used ethically and responsibly. Do you want to know how your bank scores on topics such as animal welfare, climate change and human rights? Find a Fair Bank Guide in your country. Make others aware of this and grow your handprint even more.
9. Sustainable citizen initiatives
Join a sustainable citizens’ initiative or start one yourself. There are numerous initiatives that show that every individual can make a difference. We share a few examples.
The Clothing Loop is an initiative that allows you to easily exchange clothes with others in your own neighbourhood. This idea originated in Amsterdam during the first lockdown. And it worked so well that other cities soon followed. There are now more than 410 active loops in the Netherlands, in which a total of 15,000 people participate.
In 2009, the first Repair Café was started in Amsterdam-West. It has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon with 2500 Repair Cafés in more than 40 countries and 540,000 repairs per year.
Do you have a good idea? Get started today!
10. Other sustainable initiatives
Growing your handprint goes beyond directly influencing your environment. You can also grow your positive impact by donating money to charities, protecting nature or planting trees.
You can’t keep reducing your footprint indefinitely, that’s why it’s important to also increase your handprint, so you can make an infinite amount of positive impact! At The Footprint Challenge, our motto is: From Footprint to Handprint.