Cambridge dictionary defines ecological footprint as:
“the effect that a person, company, activity, etc. has on the environment.” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/environmental-footprint)
In the SDIA we focus on the environmental footprint of the digital industry as the term carbon footprint merely focuses on carbon exhaustion while this is not the only unsustainable effect of industry activities.
The Global Footprint Network defines the environmental footprint through the following explanation:
Ecological Footprint accounting measures the demand on and supply of nature. On the demand side, the Ecological Footprint adds up all the productive areas for which a population, a person or a product competes. [...] The Ecological Footprint tracks the use of productive surface areas. [...] On the supply side, a city, state or nation’s biocapacity represents the productivity of its ecological assets (including cropland, grazing land, forest land, fishing grounds, and built-up land). (https://www.footprintnetwork.org/our-work/ecological-footprint/)
Another useful and historical definition of the ecological footprint can be found in William Reese’s and Mathis Wackernagel’s 1998 book Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth.
“The Ecological Footprint is a measure the ‘load’ imposed by a given population on nature. It represents the land area necessary to sustain current levels of resource consumption and waste discharge by that population.” (Reese and Wackernagel, Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth, p. 5)