Don’t follow in this ‘footprint’

In the spirit of COP17 happening in Durban right now, I thought I would look into some methods of reducing our carbon footprint.

Starting at home, opt for bio-degradable and vegetable based products. These days even computer parts and detergent are made from bio degradable material at affordable rates.

Choose local produce! Goods made and sold locally are the better option for so many reasons. Free international trade can sometimes hurt domestic trade, so by buying local, you not only help local businesses to grow and establish healthy competition, but you also reduce carbon emissions. This is simply because transportation of imported goods can have an adverse effect on the total carbon emissions in the atmosphere. In this case, locally produced canned foods can even be more beneficial than imported fresh produce.

While buying local, choose organic! This has a double wammy benefit, because it is better for your health and better for the earth.

Also, unplug your cellphone chargers when you are done with them, because they continue to use electricity when plugged in.

Switch off your computer monitor when shutting down your PC.

Make it a habit to switch off the lights to any room when you leave it.

I discovered my mother’s pestle and mortar. I use it for anything from grinding spices, making pesto to just plain taking out my human-induced frustrations :) so do your grinding, whipping, grating and chopping manually. It gives you Jean Claud van Damme muscles, and it reduces your carbon footprint.

If you’re able to afford a dish-washer, then it is a good investment. On average, dish-washers require up to 37% less water than hand washing in a basin. Also, the effective way to use a dishwasher is to load it once a day instead of washing after every meal. The dishwasher uses 80% of the electricity it consumes to heat water for dish washing, meaning that you don’t have to wait for tap water to heat up, letting cold water just run. Also, dishwashers help you save on the energy expenses that the municipality charges to pump water to your home as well as the water treatment charges for recycling water.

If you have to hand wash your dishes, a nifty thing i do with the cold water that runs while you’re waiting for it to heat up, is store it in a large container, which you can then re-distribute to the kettle, the plants in your house, or one of your 6 glasses of water for the day.

At work, here are a few things you can do to save energy.

Turn down the brightness of your monitor, and increase the contrast, as this saves electricity.

Reducing the screen size and the resolution is also helpful.

It was found that using a white background consumes more power, so opt for a grey one.

Screen savers consume the same amount of electricity as a normal screen does, so switch your screen savers off and opt for the function that automatically switches the monitor off when you are away from the PC for an extended period of time.

Switch your computer off completely when you go for meetings, lunch breaks etc.

It may seem like an inconvenience to do so, but considering that someday half the earth will be covered in water and we may have to walk around with oxygen masks, it doesn’t seem quite as bad.

As of 2009 it was estimated that 365 million people own computers. Energy saved by every one of those people everyday, can greatly reduce the amount electricity used, and therefore the carbon emitted by power stations.

For those of us who love to doodle, as far as possible take and make notes with paper and pen instead of rushing to the photo copier. Make paper presentations where possible instead of using power point presentations. When venture capitalists ask you why you are so Neanderthal in your approach to business, just tell them you’re saving energy and that will reflect well on you.

Power down when leaving the office. There is no need to leave lights on when the office is empty. Your office does in no way look more macho than the one next to it. 

Chief Seattle said:  We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors: we borrow it from our children” So when you start putting away money in your children’s education funds, invest in a better earth for them as well.

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