Footprints are the damage we do by consuming resources and emitting pollution. No matter how small, they are still a negative impact. Which raises the questions:
How do we do better?
Measuring handprints - or positive impact - follows the same logic as measuring footprints. When added together, footprints and handprints determine an organization's net impact. They show us whether we're doing more good than harm, and leaving the world better off.
When measuring our net impact, we look at the entire life cycle.
In 1969, the first Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) were undertaken in an attempt to understand the impact of our activities.
Today, LCA is a robust science, providing corporations with ways of measuring the impact of a product from inception to disposal. That measurement is one we're all now familiar with: footprints.
And here's the energy we save by replacing an older, less efficient bulb: