Impact of Locational Choices and Consumer Behaviors on Personal Land Footprints: An Exploration across the Urban-Rural Continuum in the United States

Lin Zeng, Anu Ramaswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Land is a scarce resource. We develop consumption-based land footprints (CBLF) for urban and rural U.S. residents to evaluate new levers for reducing land-demand by combining (1) direct land-use for human settlements including housing, (2) indirect land-use associated with personal consumption, for example, food and clothing. Results show that an average urban resident's indirect land-use (199 »176 ft2/capita) is ∼23 times the direct land-use (8519 ft2/capita), for a total urban CBLF of 207 »695 ft2/capita. Rural residents have a slightly higher (∼6%) indirect land-use and ∼10 times larger direct land-use compared to urban. Because in both cases, indirect land-use is much larger than direct, a strategic mix of individual actions including halving food waste (-4.7%), one-day weekly plant-based diet (-3.3%), reducing clothing consumption (-2.8%), and others, can together reduce CBLF by -12.8%. Meanwhile, housing and locational choices across the urban-rural continuum evaluated for the median-density Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSP MSA) yield CBLF reductions from -1.9% (from single- to multifamily housing) to -10.6% (from rural to the urban core). The analysis demonstrates that consumer behavior changes could rival housing/locational choices in order to reduce personal CBLF. Our method of combining input-output analysis with parcel data could be applied in different regions to provide customized information on CBLF mitigation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3091-3102
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume54
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 17 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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