Minimise

Why Minimise

There are so many stories we can tell ourselves to justify doing nothing about the impending climatic catastrophe, but perhaps the most insidious is that, whatever we do, will be too little too late.  That it will take the Government and the Big Corporate to make any difference.

Climate change has arrived well ahead of schedule. Scientists’ projections that seemed dire a decade ago turn out to have been unduly optimistic: the warming and the melting, and the positive feedback loop connecting them, is occurring much faster than the models predicted.  It is true that laws and money is necessary.  And yet, laws and money cannot do enough either.   It will also take profound changes in the way we live.  Because at the bottom of the climate-change crisis is another crisis - that of our lifestyles. The Big Problem is nothing more or less than the sum total of countless little everyday choices, most of them made by us consumers, and most of the rest made in the name of our needs, desires and preferences.

Striving to live in harmony with Nature is not a new endeavour. In the past, the reasons for doing so have been different – like the Gandhian values of inculcating self-sufficiency.  However, since the time of Adam Smith, we have moved inexorably towards “division of labour”.  Unfortunately, this move towards specializaton has also proved to be a move away from personal responsibility. We have abdicated responsibility for everything except the very narrow range of products/ services whose “producers” we are.  The rest of the time, we are just “consumers”. Virtually all of our needs and desires we delegate to specialists of one kind or another — our meals to agribusiness, health to the doctor, education to the teacher, entertainment to the media, care for the environment to the environmentalist, political action to the politician.

This division of labor has given us many of the blessings of civilization Yet this same division of labor obscures the lines of connection — and responsibility — linking our everyday acts to their real-world consequences, making it easy for us to overlook the coal-fired power plant that lights our computer screen, or the mountaintop that had to be destroyed to provide the coal to that plant, or the streams running crimson with heavy metals as a result.  Specialists ourselves, we can no longer imagine anyone but an expert, or anything but a new technology or law, solving our problems. As the closing credits roll out at the end of “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore asks of us only that we change our light bulbs, because he probably can’t imagine us doing anything much more challenging, like, say, growing some portion of our own food.

The reasons not to act are many and compelling.  But here are a few reasons that we might put on the other side of the scale:

If we do act, we will set an example for other people. If enough other people act, each one influencing yet another in a chain reaction of behavioral change, markets for all manner of green products and alternative technologies will prosper and expand. (Just look at the market for hybrid cars.) Consciousness will be raised, perhaps even changed: new moral imperatives and new taboos might take root in the culture. Driving a gas-guzzler or setting the at AC at 15C might come to be regarded as outrages to human conscience. Not having things might become cooler than having them. And those who did change the way they live would acquire the moral standing to demand changes in behavior from others — from other people, other corporations, even other countries.

How do you know you have it right!

Deciding to take responsibility for one’s consumption choices is only the first step in minimizing our carbon footprint.  While the implications of some choices are fairly well evaluated – like using less electrical power from the grid; for others, the information is, at best, incomplete, and at worst, misleading and confusing!

What to buy!

The past few years have seen an explosion of green marketing.  While this has made available to the consumer more choices, consumers may find themselves perplexed by how to gauge the environmental impact of the many products that claim to be eco-friendly. For one, as of now, it is very difficult to evaluate the claims of products that say they are biodegradable, carbon neutral or made from sustainable materials. Even if one were to take the green-claims of the various manufacturers at face value, there are still many processes whose Carbon footprint implications cannot be clearly evaluated. Is eating local or walking to work really going to reduce my carbon footprint? According to one analysis, if walking to work increases your appetite and you consume more meat or milk as a result, walking might actually emit more carbon than driving.

Perfect knowledge, that takes into account the sourcing of the raw materials, the manufacturing process, the transportation involved, and the final disposal, is many years away.  The best we can do for now, is to make informed choice with the limited information we have and to realize that instead of buying three pairs of organic cotton jeans, it is better to buy just one pair, and even better to make do with our existing pair of ordinary jeans

How much to buy!

Conspicuous consumption is a significant part of the Global Warming problem. Therefore, it doesn’t require too much intelligence to hypothesize thus: it is a misconception that by buying anything, whether Green or not, we are solving the problem.

Environmentalists say some products marketed as green may pump more carbon into the atmosphere than choosing something more modest, or simply nothing at all.  Coming back to an earlier point - instead of buying three pairs of organic cotton jeans, it is better to buy just one pair, and even better to make do with our existing pair of ordinary jeans

This section of NO2CO2 will try to present and evaluate “Minimizing” options.  We strive to stay up to date with current technological developments, be as fair as possible while evaluating different options and state up-front if any issues are unresolved.  Any errors of judgments or facts is completely unintentional and we will be very happy to be corrected.


read more...
Recycled Paper

General Description

Purchase printer and photocopy paper that is composed of a high-percentage of post-consumer recycled paper. Switching from virgin printer / photocopy paper to 100% recycled paper can reduce your paper footprint by 37%. Recycled printer papers are now manufactured using techniques that provide finishes nearly equivalent to virgin paper.

Footprint Savings

 

Cost Savings

 

Resource Savings

 

Click Here To View Resource
Eco Party Ware

 General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource
Recycled Toilet Paper

General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource
Biodegradeable Laundry Detergents

General Description:

‘Aritha’ or Soap Nuts, a natural soap-forming substance that grows in the wild and can be cultivated, were the primary cleaning agents used historically in India and they continue to be used by rural communities; their use in this country has been declining since the advent of ‘cheap’ detergents following the brisk industrialization of the country following independence. They fell out of favor amongst modern consumers who were mislead to believe that they are cumbersome to use, compromise on cleaning qualities, and are generally an unsophisticated method of cleaning not appropriate for urban households. Recent interest in the cleansing properties of these naturally occurring soaps by environmentally conscious communities in Western Europe and Scandinavia has spawned a renaissance – it is now recognized as a perfectly viable alternative to conventional detergent that can even be used in washing machines. Furthermore, it is a natural fabric softener that replicates all the attributes of conventional detergents without the use of synthetic additives. India is one of the largest growers of this natural soap and exports vast quantities to Western European nations. Bewilderingly, its own citizens are largely unaware of the virtues and availability of this product in user-friendly forms custom designed for urban use. Like all wise consumption choices that mitigate your impact on global warming, this one too is accompanied by significant cost benefits. Per laundry-load (washing machine or bucket wash), switching to this natural detergent yields monetary savings of approximately 60 to 70%.

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource
Biodegradable Floor Cleaner

General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource
Biodegradable Dishwashing Detergents

General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource
Biodegdradeable Household Cleaners

General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Click Here To Download: Report on Dishwasher
Click Here To Download: Report on Glass Cleaner
Click Here To View Resource
Biodegradable Plastic Bags

General Description

If using plastic bags is absolutely unavoidable (for instance – bags for lining garbage bins, transporting materials during monsoon etc.), switch to using Biodegradable Plastics.

Footprint Savings

 

Cost Savings

Resource Savings


Click Here To View Resource
Organic Cotton Clothing / Furnishings

General Description

After factoring in the fabrics used in clothes and how they were produced, the real benefits of soy versus organic cotton versus recycled polyester may be slight, or confusing, or quite possibly misleading. Most synthetic fabrics are non-biodegradable (i.e they are not broken down by bacteria and other microorganisms in the natural environment). Nylon production also contributes to global warming with the release of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with a global warming impact 210 times greater than Carbon Dioxide. However, synthetics are easy to maintain – they can be washed in cold water, dry quickly and usually do not need any ironing.  On the other hand, though cotton has a much higher recycling potential, conventional fertilizer and pesticide/insecticide based cotton farming is devastatingly water-intensive and results in a significant carbon footprint. Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop and epitomizes the worst effects of chemically dependent agriculture. Each year cotton producers around the world use nearly $2.6 billion worth of pesticides - more than 10% of the world's pesticides and nearly 25% of the world's insecticides.  Organic cotton makes up a miniscule percentage of cotton grown worldwide.  And a significant proportion of the carbon footprint due to cotton garments is due to the care and maintenance – including hot water washing and ironing -  required during their lifetime – up 65% according to some estimates.  Fabrics made from bamboo or hemp are promoted as having been raised without pesticides and also for growing much faster than cotton. But the downside is that bamboo or hemp fibers are naturally tough and are typically softened before being woven into fabric by using chemical treatments, which cause more pollution.

 

Naturally softer fabrics made from soy have a mild impact compared to cotton, according to environmental groups, but they are less durable, so clothes wear out faster and have to be replaced more often — which has an environmental cost of its own.

And then there is the issue of clothing-miles – similar to food miles - Clothes that are assembled in factories far from the mills that produced the fabrics and the stores that sell the finished products leave carbon footprints in their journey around the world.

 

The clothes least likely to adversely affect the earth and its climate — are the ones you already own. No new resources will be depleted to make them, and if they need infrequent washing and can be drip-dried, all the better.

 Footprint Savings

 

Cost Savings

 

Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource
Re-useable Cloth Bags

General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

 

Click Here To View Resource
Biodegradable Plastic Bottles

General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource

Alternate Household Cleaners

General Description

Synthetic chemicals are used in nearly all cleaning products such as sprays and chlorine bleaches. Not only does the manufacture of these chemicals add to your personal carbon footprint (through their consumption), their release into the environment through waste streams etc. magnifies their toxic effects as they accumulate in living organisms. For instance, the chemical known as Triclosan (used in anti-bacterial cleaners) has been detected in human milk and aquatic organisms.

 

Conventional synthetic-chemical based cleaners and detergents can be substituted by the following substances: Diluted white vinegar, lime juice, and baking soda can be used together or separately to clean a variety of surfaces, windows and tiles.

Footprint Savings

 

Cost Savings

 

Resource Savings

Computer Printer Paper

General Description

Reduce the amount of paper you use by avoiding unnecessary printing and using both sides of a paper while printing a document. At your workplace, you could even switch the settings of all system printers to automatically print only double-sided copies.

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Newspapers & Magazines

General Description

If you subscribe to multiple newspapers and magazines, consider subscribing to their online editions of some of them instead.  

Footprint Savings:

One years worth of a single newspaper subscription leads to emissions ranging from 130 to 180 kg CO2e per year.

Cost Savings:

 

Resource Savings:

Cutting down one newspaper subscription equates to saving approximately 13 to 18 trees every year.

 

Click here to search for specific Minimisation products/ service providers in your area