Category: Sustainability

Key Environmental Issues in Automotive Sector

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The environmental forecasts have recently been so gloomy that it might be tempting for some people to stop caring about the planet. Many assume that their contribution wouldn’t be enough to make a real change for the global environment and therefore they give up. The truth is, however, that the tiniest steps, if taken by all, or even the majority, could reverse climate change. What really matters is the awareness. That’s the reason why highlighting successful initiatives is important, as building positive associations with our actions will improve motivation in people across the globe.

Hopefully, with the changes we see today, most people will be aware of ecological and sustainable alternatives to most products and practices in the near future. Here are four infographics that show key environmental problems in the automotive sector, especially transport, energy production, recycling, and palm oil use, alongwith interesting facts and figures, promising news and predictions and actionable tips for everyone:

Insights into Sustainable Cleveland

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A sustainable city is a thriving city.  The city of Cleveland, Ohio is participating in a series of ten-year plans to create a thriving city for its citizens and visitors. Promoters of these projects hope to unite Cleveland citizens to build a collective vision for a viable future. During the autumn of 2009, the city began formulating a plan of action to create eco-friendly environments in the city, a plan known as Sustainable Cleveland.  Since the start of Sustainable Cleveland, the citizens of the city have worked to develop and achieve goals.  

The vision has been to make Cleveland a green, bright city with a blue lake, shaping the communities into something better, and to enhance the city’s natural environment.  The achievements may create health benefits, financial stability, uniqueness, and more opportunities for all people.

Green City Blue Lake: What Does This Mean?

Green city blue lake is one of the driving ideas behind Sustainable Cleveland.  GreenCityBlueLake is actually an institute of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  The museum works with the Sustainable Cleveland action plan to promote ecology and create healthy living environments where people can flourish.

One goal of the initiative is to make Cleveland, Ohio a metropolitan area that exists harmoniously with the natural environment.  The goal is to make Cleveland a green, ecologically friendly city that respects the blue lake that borders it, Lake Erie.

By researching solutions, bring citizens together, communicating ideas, demonstrating ideas, and working for change, the GreenCityBlueLake Institute plans to create a sustainable Cleveland.  Since 1992, this institution has led multiple eco-projects in the Ohio city.  Some of its achievements include:

  • Bike lanes
  • Lorain-Carnegie Bridge
  • City of Cleveland Office of Sustainability
  • Cleveland Carbon Fund
  • Cleveland EcoVillage
  • Cleveland Environmental Center
  • Cleveland Water Alliance
  • Climate Change Planning (Northeast Ohio and Cleveland)
  • Ohio Smart Growth Agenda
  • Balanced Growth Program (Lake Erie)
  • PNC SmartHome

Ten-Year Celebration

In 2019, Sustainable Cleveland celebrated its tenth birthday.  Not only was it ten years since the birth of Sustainable Cleveland, but the year also marked exactly fifty years since the devastating fire on the city’s Cuyahoga River, a fire caused by pollution.

Although Sustainable Cleveland’s 2009 plan originally mentioned ten years, it did not technically have an end date.  Cleveland’s sustainability thus continued in 2019 as Sustainable Cleveland 2019 and was poised to continue beyond that.  Since the beginning of its sustainability efforts, the city has focused on key areas that could benefit people and the environment.

Since 2009, Cleveland’s sustainability efforts have accomplished many different achievements, including energy efficiency, healthy local food, clean water, less waste, and much more.  They have engaged thousands of people through different professional and social environments to make Cleveland an eco-friendly city.  Some achievements of Sustainable Cleveland and Sustainable Cleveland 2019 include:

  • Improving air quality and water quality
  • Enhancing the lives of animals in the area
  • Developing bicycle infrastructure (more than seventy miles)
  • Initiating the Cleveland Tree Plan and the Cleveland Tree Coalition
  • Reaching a tree canopy goal (50,000 new trees by 2020)
  • Distributing 4,000 free rain barrels to Cleveland residents
  • Promoting solar energy
  • Decreasing Cleveland’s carbon footprint
  • Encouraging people to live in Cleveland

While this is a list of recent accomplishments, there is also a long list of other goals and accomplishments of the city’s sustainable efforts. 

What Is the Future of Sustainable Cleveland?

While Cleveland has achieved so much from 2009 to 2019, people can do even more to make it a more livable place.  The sustainability team developed an updated Climate Action Plan (CAP) that included nearly four hundred stakeholders, raising the stakes even more.  While developers built this plan on previous work, the plan included priorities such as:

  • Social and racial equality
  • More green jobs
  • Climate action
  • Business leadership

This new plan for sustainable Cleveland seems much greater, but it is still realistic and achievable.  It will require help from workers, businesses, Cleveland citizens, and organizations to make this great city even greater.  It is more than just creating a better-looking city.  It is about creating a healthy, nature-filled environment where everyone can thrive.

Ideas for a Sustainable Future

We often hear about how fast our world is aging and how air pollution, waste, and other factors are ruining the good things we have.  To keep the environment as healthy and life-filled as possible, it is up to us to make sure it is healthy and clean.  People in the past would often view fossil fuels and as limitless resources and treat nature as a giant dumping ground.

Trash, debris, air pollution, and other things dirty the once-clean and healthy earth.  These conditions made Sustainable Cleveland not only a want, but a need.  The driving forces behind Sustainable Cleveland are more than just climate action and cleaning up a city.  It is also about transforming an economy.

Multiple projects related to Sustainable Cleveland have created more opportunities for businesses of all kinds.  They have also aimed to make Cleveland a more attractive home.  Although many people may benefit from the city’s sustainability efforts, the number of Cleveland residents continues to decrease.  The Sustainable Cleveland team has developed different ideas to bring people to the city:

  • Open space and recreation district

A new zoning plan that will create more public parks, gardens, open spaces, and areas for recreational activities.

  • Midtown mix-used district

Another new zoning plan but instead of parks or gardens, this plan encourages compact land development that is pedestrian-oriented.

  • Live-work overlay district

This plan permits the use of older, unutilized buildings for a combination of uses, such as living and working.  Recycling these older but usable buildings saves time, money, and energy.

  • Urban lot sizes

Instead of using large amount of land for houses, smaller, urban-style lots recreate the look of older cities and reduce sprawl.

  • Transit-oriented development

Public transportation systems may reduce asthma rates, pollution, and household transportation expenses.  Rail stations and transit stops may make transportation more accessible.

  • Housing trust fund

The city is exploring financial incentives for green or high-performance building.  The Cleveland Community Development Department dedicates funds to support affordable housing.

  • Pedestrian-oriented development

Pedestrian-oriented development (POD) strives to increase pedestrian convenience.  It focuses on building and parking lot placement to make it easier and less dangerous for people.

Conclusion

After a successful decade, Sustainable Cleveland has no intention of disappearing in future decades.  Its plans have improved the life of Cleveland residents and may continue to so in the future.

Get Green Columbus Project – An Overview

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The Get Green Columbus initiative began on January 28, 2005.  Columbus mayor Michael B. Coleman issued a Green Memo that urged the city’s residents to live environmentally-friendly lives.  The memo discussed several policy frameworks that aimed to create healthier environments.

Since the Green Memo, the city of Columbus had made significant progress in becoming a more sustainable and environmentally friendly city in every area, from rehab to businesses.  For these efforts, the city has received awards and recognition.  These include a designation as the most improved city from SustainLane in 2008, the Environmental Public Servant Award from the Ohio Environmental Council in 2009, and recognition as the greenest fleet in the nation at the 2009 Green Fleet Conference’s 2009 Environmental Leadership Awards.

Collaborating with City Agencies & Community Leaders

One driving factor for the success of Get Green Columbus was Mayor Coleman’s Green Team.  This team was responsible for administering environmental policies, educating the community about the risks of not taking care of the environment, and identifying the necessary resources to implement Get Green Columbus initiatives.

Joining Mayor Coleman’s Green Team were the Environmental Steward Office (ESO), who collaborated with the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO).  The ESO functioned as an internal team of experts and green coordinators who represented each department and division within the city. On October 4, 2007, Mayor Coleman joined other elected officials in signing the Central Ohio Green Pact.  This pact aimed to

  • Produce greener public fleets
  • Create a stronger green economy
  • Collaborate with others to purchase more green products
  • Adopt sustainable land use policies
  • Build more green facilities to reduce energy consumption and waste
  • Educate and involve the community
  • Decrease emissions
  • Protect environments from climate change
  • Preserve green space and develop greenways
  • Expand and encourage mass transportation

 Implementing Recycling Strategies and Reducing Solid Waste

SWACO and the city of Columbus also initiated a recycling program that is now known as RecyColumbus.  The goal of this project was to make it easy for people to recycle their household goods. It allowed Columbus residents to place recyclable items on their curbs or drop off such items at recycling centers.  In 2009, the municipality recycled 15,126 tons of materials.

Different agencies also collaborated with the city of Columbus to recycle items and reduce waste.  Such partnerships are working together to recycle 66 percent of the waste that would otherwise go to local landfills.

Improving Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality

Another achievement of Mayor Coleman’s Get Green Columbus was the creation, adoption, and implementation of the City of Columbus Green Fleet Action Plan, a plan first issued on January 1, 2008.

The goals and targets of the Green Fleet Action Plan included:

  • Reducing fuel
  • Purchasing and using biodiesel and compressed natural gas
  • Obtaining green grants and Green Fleet Awards
  • Implementing green purchasing language

Protecting Water

Protecting water quality was another focus of Get Green Columbus.  The initiative focused on flood reduction, waterway quality, stream restoration, and several multi jurisdictional watershed planning efforts.

In 2005, the Columbus Division of Sewerage and Drainage launched Project Clean Rivers.  Several programs and services were part of this project.  All had the same goal: achieving clean water.  This project also included the Wet Weather Management Plan, a $2.5 billion strategy to eradicate sewer overflows.

Such water protections were attempts to ensure the safety of Columbus’s groundwater and its surface resources.  Also contributing to such water protection efforts were the city’s public health authorities, who annually permit and inspect sewage treatment systems on private properties.  The authorities inspected more than 300 systems in 2009 alone.

Promoting Green Businesses

Another green effort of Mayor Coleman was a program to recognize and award businesses that made efforts to become more environmentally responsible.  This program, called the GreenSpot Program, has been successful in serving as a public engagement model for the city of Columbus and other communities throughout Ohio and North America.

Fostering the Greening of Columbus

On February 22, 2007, Mayor Coleman agreed to the U.S. Council of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement as part of his contribution to the Get Green Columbus initiative.  Since then, the city of Columbus has conducted greenhouse gas emission inventories of its operations.

In 2005, the Columbus operation baseline emissions reported 317,926 metric tons of carbon dioxide.  The city of Columbus has aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent every year until the year 2030.

According to reports, the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Columbus in 2005 are:

  • 31 percent from buildings
  • 37 percent from wastewater treatment
  • 18 percent from drinking water treatment
  • 12 percent from transportation

The 10-Year Action Plan

In another environmental development, on May 4, 2009, Mayor Coleman announced a 10-year action plan.  The plan contains a list of improvements as well as efficiencies to correct imbalances.  The summary report of the Get Green Columbus program discusses the

  • Continuation of green initiatives
  • Expansion of energy-saving measures
  • Creation of weatherization systems
  • Establishment of efficient lighting
  • Upgrades of HVAC systems

Other Green Memo suggestions called for the city of Columbus to plant more trees and to construct capital improvements to protect the environment.  The city succeeded in its goals to plant a total of 20,000 trees.  Reports stated that the city of Columbus planted a yearly average of 5,500 trees and lost 1,500 trees yearly, which meant that the city planted 4,000 trees every year.

Local partners worked with the city of Columbus to achieve most of the project’s goals.  One improvement was improving access to fresh and nutritious foods for residents who were in need.  Columbus Public Health organized community farmers markets throughout the city, an effort that provided fresh food to city residents.

Speaking of Columbus and plants, the city is the home of the American Community Garden Association.  It is also the location of the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which opened the unique Community Garden Campus.  These efforts educate people about the beauty and usefulness of plants and protecting them, issues important to Get Green Columbus as well.

Final Words

Get Green Columbus illustrate that teamwork and collaboration can make good things happen for a city and its residents.

5 Innovative Ways to Make Urban Farming More Sustainable

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Urban farms are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. Creative farming models are now being cultivated in a diverse range of urban spaces, from rooftops to within tall, enclosed buildings. These innovative growing methods prioritize sustainability, which plays a key role in making sure that our urban creations have the least negative impact on the environment. Here are 5 ways to maximize sustainability in your urban farm.

Rooftop Farming

One literally ‘top’ trend in urban agriculture is rooftop farming. This method makes clever use of an urban space that is typically unused and has been praised for its positive environmental impact. Rooftop farms provide extra insulation for buildings, lower temperatures in summer and maintain heat in the winter. These factors translate to less use of heating and cooling systems, which saves significant amounts of energy and money.

Plants grown on rooftops capture moisture in the air, which means that rooftop farms also help reduce the storm water flow that can pollute waterways and overwhelm sewage treatment facilities.

Vertical farming

Vertical farms produce crops in vertical layers in a controlled environment. Most vertical farms are created with tall enclosed structures, using height to maximize growth. This innovative approach to urban farming can help to maintain crop production all year round, without relying on favorable weather conditions, soil fertility, or excessive water use.

Establishing vertical farms in urban areas can ultimately help to create a more sustainable environment by contributing to less abandoned buildings, a cleaner atmosphere, better water conservation, and a positive impact on the health of the surrounding communities.

Shipping Container Farming

Recently, using shipping containers as urban farms has become increasingly popular. There is an abundance of shipping containers that are left unused every year, free to be used as indoor farms. These steel structures are durable, versatile, portable and stackable: ready to be placed as a container farm on any site with a strong, level surface.

The versatility of shipping containers provides a range of opportunities to create an enclosed ‘farm’ in any location, from your backyard to corporate campuses. Compared to traditional fixed structures, container farms can be set up in a relatively short period of time.

Using Hydroponic Systems

Innovative new growing techniques have played a key role in the sustainability of urban farming. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil, a technique commonly used in vertical farming. This method has been shown to have some environmental benefits.

The controlled and closed environment of hydroponic systems usually eliminates the need for pesticides, meaning less poisonous chemicals on the food and plants grown. Hydroponic systems can also recycle water and nutrients, putting less strain on water systems. This sustainable style of growing has become a top choice for many large-scale greenhouses.

Using Aquaponic Systems

Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable methods of urban agriculture. Simply put, this method combines traditional aquaculture with hydroponics. Many farmers have embraced this method to become more environmentally responsible and promote good health within their local communities.

Aquaponic systems can grow many types of food without consuming too many resources. Only a few pieces of equipment in this method actually require power – and in most systems, the water is circulated rather than disposed of after use. Using this style of indoor urban farming, you can ultimately grow more food while using less water, labor and land.

18 New Sustainable Building Materials Worth Watching

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Throughout the years, we’ve seen a growing trend with green building. The reason? Building projects consume nearly 50 percent of our resources extracted from nature, as well as generating 23 percent of air pollution and contributing to half of our landfill waste. There’s no doubt that the industry needs to combat climate change and create sustainable buildings to ensure that our communities can thrive in the future.

To address the challenge, many innovative companies are developing new futuristic green materials. From materials that can generate their own renewable energy to those that can self-heal and lower CO2 levels, a new generation of buildings is on the horizon. While many of these innovations are still in the early stages of development and haven’t reach mass-scale, they may very well be making their way into our buildings in the next few decades.

A great example of a building constructed with one of these futuristic materials is the BIQ House in Hamburg, Germany. Built with walls and panels containing living algae, the green building to able to generate its own electricity and power.  

These new building materials are being engineered to be more self-sustaining, stronger, sleeker and easier on the environment. Check out the infographic below from BigRentz for 18 futuristic materials that are buzzing in the industry.

Eco-Friendly Waste Disposal Methods

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Even the fastest growing economies often fail at effectively managing the massive quantities of waste generated. Whether you’re a homeowner cleaning up after a renovation project, or a construction company with ongoing site waste management requirements, it’s important that you’re familiar with eco-friendly ways of disposing of the waste. Let us have a quick glance at popular eco-friendly waste disposal methods.

Salvaging on site

It’s no secret that the construction industry is held accountable for a lion’s share of worldwide energy usage, but also generated waste material. However, many construction materials can be recycled and reused on site.

For example, by re-milling old timber and lumber, you can make new floors, panelling, doors and windows. Drywall scraps can be used for wall patches, but also mixed up with soil as a nutrient-rich food source for plants. Common metals like copper, aluminium and steel can be smelted and reformed into new products. Crushing concrete and masonry gives you extra material for pavements, roads and driveways, similarly to clay bricks, which have a lifespan of more than 200 years.

Reusing

Reusing the waste is directly related to generating less of it. For example, instead of throwing them away, you can still use your shopping bags. The same goes with relish and condiment jars, which can be used for storing items in your workshop.

Recycling

It starts with waste separation, as recyclable products are often mixed up with non-recyclable ones, or ones suitable for composting. Many people are already recycling, with communities showing their environmental initiative by providing separate bins for glass and PET, but are you up to date with what can be recycled nowadays?

Even with a high percentage of household waste being recyclable, the statistic are still discouraging. For example, in a developed country like Australia, where environmental awareness is high, only about 20% of all plastic packaging is recycled.

Professional removal

Separating your household waste into separate bins and disposing of daily rubbish responsibly is one thing, but when faced with a large amount of waste, such as from major remodelling project, downsizing, or moving house, most homeowners don’t know what to do.

Luckily, developed countries like Australia have an extensive network of commercial waste removal companies, like the one for professional junk removal in Sydney. It operates an efficient team for removing household rubbish, lawn trimmings, demolition, and e-waste, while the company’s policies ensure that whatever can be recycled, will be.

Incineration

This method involves combusting waste as a means of removing their base components with extreme heat. It’s another way of destroying your waste while still being environmentally responsible. However, this doesn’t mean you can build a bonfire in your backyard and dump whatever will burn, meanwhile choking your entire neighbourhood with the noxious smoke. Municipalities often have strict policies and regulations for waste incineration, so you should look into these before it’s too late.

Waste to energy

Even after reusing and recycling, some waste still remains. Instead of burying organic waste, you can use it to generate energy. Plants that use anaerobic digestion can do a great deal of work here, as they take care of anything that rots and turn it into biogas and farm fertiliser.

A modern air pollution control system is essential for all MSW incineration facilities.

A country that has been doing a great job in generating energy from organic waste is Sweden. They convert 100% of their organic waste to clean energy, even going to extents of importing waste from neighbouring countries for energy production.

Conclusion

While waste can be disposed of in a number of ways, it’s always important to give a chance to eco-friendly methods, as they make less of an impact on the environment. Apart from helping the nature regenerate its sources, the disposal methods listed here are directly involved in creating a healthier environment for ourselves.

Consequences of Climate Change in MENA

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Due to its unique geographical attributes, MENA is highly vulnerable to consequences of climate change. One of the main climate change impacts is sea level rise on coastal areas of MENA nations. This includes many of the large and small islands in the GCC region such as Kuwait, which are highly vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise. Inundation will adversely affect cities, roads, agricultural areas, as well as beaches and salt marshes in the MENA region.

Continued use of non-renewable water is major factor in depleting groundwater reserves in MENA region and puts regional countries at severe risk of climate impacts. Depletion of groundwater through urbanization has led to the loss of freshwater springs/aquifers. The GCC countries are heavily dependent on energy-intensive desalination plants for its freshwater supplies which is further driving up electricity demand.

The MENA region is highly vulnerable to tensions brought on by spike in food prices. Due to growing water crisis and desertification, the region is staring at a food crisis in the coming years. The region is grappling with the realization that its barren soil and dwindling water supply will be insufficient to feed the population, even with intensive irrigation and modern farming technology.

Lack of Seriousness

Unfortunately the level of seriousness that should have been shown by the regional governments is somewhat lacking. Climate change mitigation is not among the top priorities in most of the MENA countries.

There is lack of effective laws/regulations, absence of long-term climate action frameworks, weak coordination among different ministries and among regional governments and lack of public awareness.

The Way Forward

An efficient and effective environmental governance framework is essential for more productive and measurable interaction amongst various stakeholders and across key sectors. National, regional and international linkages within targeted sectors are essential to coordinate climate action in MENA.

Proactive involvement of public and private sectors, civil society organizations as well as research and academia in climate change mitigation is also a crucial issue. Environmental education will also go a long way in inculcating sustainable lifestyles and responsible behavior among local population and expatriates.

It is realistically possible that climate change will precipitate environmental degradation and drought-like conditions in MENA which will cause deterioration in livelihoods, and put pressure on populations to migrate en masse. Needless to say, Arabian Gulf is the most unsustainable region in the world. The craze for big cars and tall buildings coupled with apathy towards the environment and natural resources is pushing the region towards the worst-case scenario.

For more information, you may email the author Salman Zafar on salman@ecomena.org or salman@cleantechloops.com

3 Green Packaging Methods to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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The consumer shift towards green living has awakened an increasing number of companies on the importance of green packaging This resulted to global brands – including the likes of McDonald’s, Walmart, Nike and Coca-Cola among many others – embracing green business practices to reduce their negative impact on the environment.

Although these eco-friendly initiatives are primarily focused in addressing the alarming environmental concerns, they also come with several benefits on the businesses’ end. These include helping the companies build a green reputation and as a result, earn the approval of like-minded consumers.

In the push towards a healthier environment, more and more companies continue integrating green practices in their functions. And as a business, what better step to take than to follow those initiatives? If you’re still clueless on how to make your business green, the easiest way would be to come up with more eco-friendly packaging alternatives. Fortunately, options abound for those seeking to implement more sustainable packaging practices.

If you are a business looking to embrace eco-friendly practices, these packaging methods will help reduce your carbon footprint.

  1. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

The environmental trifecta of the three Rs also applies to product packaging:

Reuse – look for opportunities, where it makes sense, to introduce reusable packaging. In 2010, KFC released its reusable sides containers that are promoted as being reusable and microwave-safe.

Reduce – eliminate, where possible, the layers of wrappings you use in your product.  Additionally, you can also revolutionize your products to accommodate sustainable packaging. A great example of this is the packaging-free shampoo bars from LUSH.

Recycle: increase the proportion of packaging from recycled and recyclable materials so it can be repurposed at the end of its use.

  1. Think Innovative and Sustainable Packaging

Although it may not work with all products, you can consider unique and innovative materials with your packaging. A prime example of this is the Clever Little Bag by Puma, a reusable shoe bag that helped them save as much as 65% of paper.

You can also factor in the use of sustainable materials such as recycled and virgin papers, plant-based packing peanuts and bio-plastics. Soy-based inks are also a greener alternative to petroleum-based inks, as they come from a renewable source and makes recycling paper easier as well.

  1. Cut Down on Energy

A significant amount of energy is spent from the packaging production down to the logistics. So, streamlining these processes is necessary to reduce energy consumption. One way to effectively do that is by incorporating a space-saving design in your packaging which may be useful for all businesses, for example house moving companies.

Eco-friendly product packaging can help in green branding

This initiative not only optimises the delivery of your products, it also helps drive like-minded consumers towards your product, considering it provides better value for their money.

Ensuring that your product packaging is eco-friendly not only shows your commitment to the environment, but also reflects consideration to your customers who are demanding for sustainable products and services. As a result, you can be confident that your initiatives will help build your green reputation as a brand.

Find out more ways on how you can switch to an eco-friendly business with Green Courier, a leading courier company in London, providing environment-conscious delivery services across the UK.

Green Courier is an environmentally friendly courier service in the United Kingdom. Being the leading Carbon Balanced supplier in the rapid dispatch industry, the company is committed in promoting sustainable solutions for the market and is always looking for ways to reduce its impact on the environment.

Our Digital Carbon Footprint: A Cause for Concern

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The number of Internet users reaches record highs every year, but did you know that for every tweet, comment, email and google search, a small amount of CO2 is emitted? This is our digital carbon footprint. For one person, the numbers aren’t too impressive, but when you factor in every person on planet earth who’s using the internet, those small numbers suddenly look ginormous, and worrying.

What is Digital Carbon Footprint?

When you think of the destructive causes that contribute to the breakdown of the ozone layer, sitting behind a desk on your computer or flicking through your phone probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, thanks to the colossal number of data centres that are now needed to feed planet earth’s internet obsession, the online world is now beginning to damage the real world.

Here are some internet and social media stats per second and the resulting CO2 emitted.

Google Searches

In the modern world, Google is our gateway to any answer we’re looking for. As a result, there are over 60,000 searches made on Google every second. Combine that with the fact that the average search produces around 0.2g of CO2 and the quantity of emissions is quite remarkable.

Sending Emails

According to ‘internet live stats’, there are more than 2.5 million emails sent every second with a “everyday” email emitting 4g of CO2. That is quite astonishing. Especially when they also say that around 67% off all emails are spam. Anti-virus specialists, McAfee, say that this number is even higher, reporting that a remarkable 78% of all incoming emails are spam and that approximately 62 trillion spam messages are sent every year.

Facebook

Facebook’s growth is the perfect example of how things have escalated over the last 10 years or so when it comes to internet usage. According to their sustainability report, in 2004 one million people were using Facebook, fast forward to 2016 and you need to replace the word million with billion and then some.

Facebook say that their annual per-user carbon emissions is 299g of CO2, which is less than making 1 latte or boiling 1 pot of tea. This is quite an achievement, but when there are so many people using the site, it still adds up to a lot of emissions.

Twitter

Raffi Krikorian, a developer at Twitter once stated that each tweet consumes around 90 joules, equalling 0.02g of CO2 emissions. Hardly anything right? Correct, however there are approximately 8,000 tweets written and published every single second.

YouTube

An article in the Guardian revealed that 1g of CO2 was emitted for every 10 minutes of YouTube watched or 0.0017g per second. That’s right, so the next time you’re up late at night watching funny cat videos, remember that those adorable, cute and cuddly fur balls mean you are contributing to the breakdown of the ozone layer.

Google’s Strive For Carbon Neutrality

10 years ago, Google vowed to be carbon neutral by 2017, a goal which they’ve met. In 2016 Google’s gross greenhouse gas emissions were 2.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), but thanks to $2.5 billion of investment into solar and wind projects, carbon offset programs and renewable energy, their net operational carbon emissions are now zero.

 

Biomass Energy: Driving Rural Development

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Biomass energy offers attractive opportunities for rural development, and has got tremendous potential to rejuvenate the agricultural economy and community empowerment. The development of efficient biomass handling technology, improvement of agro-industrial systems and establishment of small, medium and large-scale biomass-based plants can play a major role in rural development.

Improvements in agricultural practices promises to increased biomass yields, reductions in cultivation costs, and improved environmental quality. Extensive research in the fields of synthetic biology, plant genetics, analytical techniques, remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) and IoT promised to help in increasing the energy potential of biomass feedstock.

Biomass-based microgrid developed by Husk Power Systems in Bihar (India)

Rural areas are the preferred hunting ground for the development of biomass energy sector worldwide. By making use of various biological and thermal processes (anaerobic digestion/biogas, combustion, gasification, pyrolysis), agricultural wastes can be converted into biofuels, heat or electricity, and thus catalyzing sustainable development of rural areas economically, socially and environmentally.

There are many areas around the world where people still lack access to electricity and clean cooking fuel, and thus face enormous hardship in day-to-day lives. Biomass-based microgrids, clean cookstoves and biomass-based fuels can reduce ‘energy poverty’ commonly prevalent among remote and isolated communities.  To conclude, when a marginalized community is able to access reliable and cheap energy, it will lead to overall socio-economic growth, poverty alleviation, youth empowerment and sustainable development.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

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