Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Footprint revolution

Once there was a footprint, which was an indication that you had been somewhere and left your mark. However, as the world of sustainability began to develop, footprints started to shoot up all over the place. There was the ecological footprint which soon became a carbon footprint. Then there was a water footprint and a social footprint and now, a new Oxfam methodology for a defining a poverty footprint. Sounds like we are in the midst of a real footprint revolution. The question is: how many footprints can a business have?

I think it would make sense for us to standardize our footprint lexicon in the interest of RATS (responsibility, accountability, transparency and sustainability) so here is the first, unique, globally relevant, applicable-to-all-businesses footprint guide.

The CSR Reporting Blog Global Sustainability Footprint Guide (CSRRBGSFPG)

Ecological Footprint: The overall impact a company leaves on the world's ecosphere which future generations may not be too pleased to inherit.
Social Footprint: A footprint which gets along with everyone.
Carbon Footprint: The thing every company has, many companies measure, some companies reduce and a few companies pay others in carbon offsets to take it away.  
Water Footprint: The mark you leave when walking on water. To date, there has only been one really famous person who has achieved this.
Poverty Footprint: The mark you leave on the world when you have no money.
Reporting Footprint: The lasting impression that sustainability reports leave in the minds of stakeholders before they end up in the recycling bin.
Philanthropy Footprint: The world-changing effects of donating shoes to the global (barefoot) poor. (footprint... philanthropy ... shoes.. get it ?)
Ice Cream Footprint: The inches left on your waistline resulting from the enormous volume of ice-cream you eat in a given day... errr... ok ... in a given hour.
Animal Footprint: The mark an animal leaves when it has been somewhere, using its feet. Snakes, for example, do not have animal footprints.
Biodiversity Footprint: The mark you leave when you tread softly so that you do not kill any rare insects.
Human Rights Footprint: The result of the basic right and freedom of all people to leave footprints wherever they wish as enshrined in global international human rights conventions.
Laptop Footprint: The mark you leave when you don't go anywhere without your laptop.
Coffee Footprint: The mark you leave when you spilled coffee on the floor and trod in it.
Geographical Footprint: The exact location where you left your footprint, as found in an atlas.
Psychological Footprint: The mark you THINK you left when you went somewhere.
Economic Footprint: The value placed on a footprint by investors and analysts, who don't quite know how to measure it.
Partial Footprint: A fraction of a footprint.
Timberland Footprint:
The mark anyone leaves when wearing classic Timberland boots.
Digital Footprint:
The mark left by a robot.
Sand Footprint: Something you leave after a walk on the beach.
Ellen DeGeneres Footprint:  Size 8.5
Fooprint Footprint: The mark that twins leave when they have trodden somewhere.

Anyway, I hope to be reading more about Footprints in Sustainability Reports in the future. In the meantime, if you are not sure where you left YOUR footprint, take a tip from Groucho Marx :

“I don't have a photograph, but you can have my footprints. They're upstairs in my socks.” 

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via  on Twitter or via my business website  (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm) The mark you leave when you don't go anywhere without your laptop.

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