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Technology and your Carbon Footprint!

By Glenn Cowan

Keeping with the theme of this month's Pattaya Trader Magazine, we take a look at some of the technology that can help to reduce one's’ carbon footprint. As we know, technology has moved on at a frantic pace and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. However before we dive into the techpart, perhaps we should first have a brief round up to understand a little more about what is meant by the term “Carbon Footprint”.

 

The Definition

Well, put into simplistic terms, a person's carbon footprint is the sum of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which have been induced by your activities in a given time frame. In most cases, a carbon footprint is calculated over the course of a year. CO2 output is measured in kg. Most people associate the biggest CO2 generators as motor vehicles, and to be fair they aren’t far wrong. However, it is important to remember that there is some form of carbon footprint attached to everything, for example:

For every liter of petrol used, 2.3 kg of CO2 is emitted. The production of 5 plastic bags and 2 plastic bottles would generate 2 kg to your personal carbon footprint One could argue that the bottles and plastic bags are being produced anyway; however, choosing to use them is the element of importance. This is perhaps why the big UK supermarket chains have been charging people for using plastic bags - or is this just another way of making increased profits?

Does it Really Matter?

Many people feel that they are too small to make an impact in the fight to lower CO2 emission levels and in some respects they might be correct. If everyone felt the same then of course, that statement would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thankfully there are large sways of people that are starting to take responsibility for or at least learn more about the impact their actions have. Also a number of websites have sprung up that have some form of carbon footprint calculator on them, allowing visitors to estimate levels of usage under certain situations.

The reality is that the world needs some assistance in reducing levels of CO2. Nations and corporations are being brought to task to reduce the damage that is being caused by all this carbon dioxide production. Bottom line is, the more an individual can do to help, the bigger the impact on reducing overall sizes of carbon footprint. Yes, it does really matter!

The Paperless Office?

It’s not uncommon to see notation at the bottom of an email that reminds you about not printing the message out. These messages have been around for some time and really do make excellent sense. Aside from a the carbon footprint of paper and ink and of course the manufacture of the printing device used there is also a massive benefit of space saving.

Lest we forget, all paper (recycled or not) is approximately 40% carbon by mass. Paper consumption contributes massively to forest degradation, not to mention the huge volumes of chemicals, raw energy and water that is required in the manufacturing processes.Think about it. A paperless office means less filing cabinets taking up precious office space. Less piles of paper lying around and, a much needed reduction in your carbon footprint.

The added bonus to reducing paper in the office is that for every tree that is not used in it’s production there is another tree saved that can “consume” CO2 in the atmosphere.Surely it’s a win / win situation?

Busy People can Care!

Getting organized in your life can make a difference when it comes to reducing carbon footprints. Using a diary app on your phone rather than a physical notepad is not only going to help you become more efficient, it will also cut down on paper usage in the process.

No matter if you are using Android or Apple there are plenty of applications that you can download for your “to-do lists”, “calendars”, “appointment schedules” etc, Certain age groups will not doubt have a sentimental attachment to their first “Filofax” type organiser. Of course, like most things, technology has evolved and played its part.

Avoid Traffic

Given that we have already talked about fuel being one of the biggest culprits when creating harmful CO2, it probably makes sense to look at some of the technology that could potentially help.Avoiding traffic is now much easier than it ever has been, thanks in large to some of the navigations systems available on phones. Regular readers might recall an article on the the evolution of Google Maps?

Even if you know the route you are going, why not use Google Maps?. The benefit here is that down to the volume of other people on the road using the same system, Google is able to let you know in advance of any traffic congestion. So rather than sitting around in traffic, you can keep motoring using an alternative route. Less stress for your journey and less CO2 being produced because you are not idling in stationary traffic.Taking things to the next level, Google have introduced an app called “Carbon Footprint for Google Maps”, this extension will be able to estimate the total CO2 emission from driving the route suggested by Google Maps. Handy if you do quite a bit of driving and are keen on understanding your potential impact on the environment.

Another great app that you can download is TripAlyzer. Here you can update the app when you fill your tank and it will report back projected CO2 emission info, not only that, you can also get all kinds of budget-friendly data about your fuel spending costs.There are even apps being developed that look at lifestyle choices, purchasing patterns and food intake. These new apps will have the power to combine a whole host of information and streamline the data output.

It will even have the ability to look at spending data activity, so might not be what some of our readers are looking for, if you know what I mean!