The States With the Biggest Eco Footprints

Using more resources than are available is a lot like spending more than you earn - it catches up with you.

Americans are using twice the renewable natural resources and services that can be regenerated within the country's borders, and creating more carbon dioxide than can be absorbed in the atmosphere. This demand for resources, or ecological footprint, is one of the highest in the world, according to a report by the Global Footprint Network, which says that resource consumption and availability varies dramatically from state to state.

To live within the means of our planet's resources, each person on the planet needs only about 1.7 global acres (about 4.2 U.S. acres) of land to sustain them. The average eco footprint per person in the U.S. is 10 times that - 17.2 global acres - and the country's biocapacity (available resources) is 9.3 global acres per person.

The eco footprint of each state is calculated based on biocapacity of a state, its population, and how much its residents use. It also accounts for imports and exports as well as what its economy produces - such as coal and oil.

Based on the "State of the States" report by the Global Footprint Network, these are the states with the largest per-person ecological footprints:

1. Virginia
1. Virginia

1. Virginia

  • Population: 8 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 24.6 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 7.4 global acres per person

The State of the States report compares New York, the state with the lowest ecological footprint per capita, and Virginia, the state with the highest, noting striking differences, which include the production and consumption of coal in Virginia, and the differences in housing and transportation between the two states. Houses in Virginia are larger, and transportation demand is higher because the state is less compact than New York. Pictured is Buchanan, Va.

Photo: Shutterstock

2. Maryland
2. Maryland

2. Maryland

  • Population: 5.8 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 24.3 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 2.5 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

3. Delaware
3. Delaware

3. Delaware

  • Population: 897,934
  • Total ecological footprint: 23.4 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 3.4 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

4. District of Columbia
4. District of Columbia

4. District of Columbia

  • Population: 601,723
  • Total ecological footprint: 22 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 0.2 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

5. North Dakota
5. North Dakota

5. North Dakota

  • Population: 672,591
  • Total ecological footprint: 22 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 38.5 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

6. Utah
6. Utah

6. Utah

  • Population: 2.8 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 22 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 5 global acres per person

Photo: Bob Pool / Shutterstock

7. Connecticut
7. Connecticut

7. Connecticut

  • Population: 3.6 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 21.5 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 2 global acres per person

Photo: Jia / Shutterstock

8. New Hampshire
8. New Hampshire

8. New Hampshire

  • Population: 1.3 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 21.4 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 8.8 global acres per person
Photo: Shutterstock

9. Iowa
9. Iowa

9. Iowa

  • Population: 3 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 20.5 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 21.0 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

10. Wyoming
10. Wyoming

10. Wyoming

  • Population: 563,626
  • Total ecological footprint: 20.4 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 39.8 global acres per person

Above, a coal train transports coal in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. The Powder River Basin, located north of Douglas, supplies 40% of the nation's coal, according to the Converse County (Wyoming) tourism board.

Photo: robertwcoy / Shutterstock

11. Nebraska
11. Nebraska

11. Nebraska

  • Population: 1.8 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 20.3 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 38.1 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

12. Colorado
12. Colorado

12. Colorado

  • Population: 5 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 20 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 5.8 global acres per person
Photo: Shutterstock

13. Kentucky
13. Kentucky

13. Kentucky

  • Population: 4.3 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 19.5 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 13.9 global acres per person

Pictured is a coal barge on the Ohio River near Bellevue, Ky.

Photo: Shutterstock

14. Missouri
14. Missouri

14. Missouri

  • Population: 6 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 19.5 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 16.2 global acres per person

Above, the giant rocking chair on Route 66 in Fanning, Mo.

Photo: StockPhotoAstur / Shutterstock

15. Alaska
15. Alaska

15. Alaska

  • Population: 710,231
  • Total ecological footprint: 19.2 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 510.9 global acres per person

With nearly 511 acres of biocapacity, Alaska has far more resources per person than any other state.

Photo: Shutterstock

16. West Virginia
16. West Virginia

16. West Virginia

  • Population: 1.9 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 19.2 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 19.4 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

17. Wisconsin
17. Wisconsin

17. Wisconsin

  • Population: 5.7 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 19.2 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 14.1 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

18. Indiana
18. Indiana

18. Indiana

  • Population: 6.5 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 19.1 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 7.7 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

19. Kansas
19. Kansas

19. Kansas

  • Population: 2.9 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 19.1 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 26.2 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

20. Oklahoma
20. Oklahoma

20. Oklahoma

  • Population: 3.8 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 19.1 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 20.2 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

21. Minnesota
21. Minnesota

21. Minnesota

  • Population: 5.3 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 18.8 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 16.9 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

22. New Jersey
22. New Jersey

22. New Jersey

  • Population: 8.8 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 18.7 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 1.3 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

23. Massachusetts
23. Massachusetts

23. Massachusetts

  • Population: 6.5 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 18.6 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 1.7 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

24. Texas
24. Texas

24. Texas

  • Population: 25.1 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 18.6 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 6.7 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

25. Ohio
25. Ohio

25. Ohio

  • Population: 11.5 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 18.3 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 5.5 global acres per person

Photo: aceshot1 / Shutterstock

26. Nevada
26. Nevada

26. Nevada

  • Population: 2.7 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 18.2 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 4.1 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

27. North Carolina
27. North Carolina

27. North Carolina

  • Population: 9.5 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 17.6 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 7.6 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

28. Rhode Island
28. Rhode Island

28. Rhode Island

  • Population: 1 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 17.5 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 1.5 global acres per person

Photo: Shutterstock

29. Louisiana
29. Louisiana

29. Louisiana

  • Population: 4.5 million
  • Total ecological footprint: 17.3 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 13.1 global acres per person

Photo: GTS Productions / Shutterstock

30. South Dakota
30. South Dakota

30. South Dakota

  • Population: 814,180
  • Total ecological footprint: 17.3 global acres per person
  • Biocapacity: 72.3 global acres per person

The states with the smallest per-person ecological footprints are New York, Idaho, and Arkansas. See the ranking of all the states and the methodology at Global Footprint Network.

Photo: Shutterstock

Advertisement

More from Personal Finance

The Best Online Tax Filing Software for 2019

The Best Online Tax Filing Software for 2019

What Is Middle Class, Really? Income and Range in 2019

What Is Middle Class, Really? Income and Range in 2019

Why Getting Drafted In the NFL Is Harder Than Investing, Says Ex NFLer

Why Getting Drafted In the NFL Is Harder Than Investing, Says Ex NFLer

Best Cities and Towns to Retire Happy and Healthy In

Best Cities and Towns to Retire Happy and Healthy In

How to Cancel Your Credit Card in 6 Steps

How to Cancel Your Credit Card in 6 Steps