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.


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Water Purifiers

General Description

On average, production of one liter of bottled water depletes the earth’s natural water supply by 5 liters – water is required for many processes within bottled water production plants besides the water eventually consumed by the end user. Furthermore, in India some of the bottled water plants of the Coca Cola Company (manufacturers of the Kinley brand) are situated in Kerala and Rajasthan in regions already affected by water scarcity. Reports published by TERI (The Energy Research Institute, New Delhi, India) have verified the detrimental impacts of bottled water plant operations of this company on the already fragile water supply primarily meant for use by local farming communities.Availability of cheap land in drought-prone regions proves to be an attractive incentive for corporations to set-up bottling operations which employ high-energy pumping systems to draw water from greater depths underground year over year; exacerbating the predicament of local farmers that are not equipped with matching technology to harness the depleting water supply. Threatening food supplies and increased water pumping energy requirements in these regions through bottled water consumption has direct implications for your personal carbon footprint.Bottled water production requires manufacture of plastic bottles that are accompanied with a carbon footprint and also transportation from remote rural locations to urban centers for consumption; entailing a transportation footprint. A 4-person household using purely bottled water for their drinking needs would generate a footprint of 0.8 tonnes of CO2 per year. This footprint would require approximately 80 trees to be planted to re-absorb the resulting emissions.This sizeable footprint can be completely avoided by using the public water supply system available in your area and purifying / disinfecting it using any of wide variety of Ultraviolet Light (UV) or Reverse Osmosis (RO) filters available in the market. To verify that the water purified by these systems is acceptable for drinking, get a sample tested by a local chemical testing lab. It will reveal that water produced through this method is in fact safer for drinking than bottled water who’s quality and source cannot be assured.
Footprint Savings

A 4-person household using purely bottled water for their drinking needs would generate a footprint of 0.8 tonnes of CO2 per year
Cost Savings

Resource Savings

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Waterless Urinals

General Description

Waterless urinals use no water at all and use a trap insert filled with a sealant liquid instead of water. The lighter-than-water sealant floats on top of the urine collected in the U-bend, preventing odors from being released into the air. Although the cartridge and sealant must be periodically replaced, the system saves anywhere between 15,000 and 45,000 gallons (approx. 55,000 and 170,000 liters) depending on the urinal traffic in BAU conditions. Some variants are based on an outlet system that traps the odor, preventing the smell often present in toilet blocks. 

Footprint Savings

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Water Purifying Systems

General Description

Footprint Savings

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Grey Water Recycling

Description


Grey Water Recycling (i.e. recycling of bath and wash water, excluding sewage from toilets and kitchen)  The primary benefits from this intervention are reduced potable water consumption stemming from reuse of treated grey water for non-potable uses (flushing, landscaping etc.) and associated pumping energy conservation.

Footprint Savings

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Water Saving Toilets

Description


Water saving toilets can reduce water consumption by 65% (assuming a 1.6 gal/0.8 gal configuration) relative to a convention (5 gal/flush) system. The primary benefits from this intervention are reduced potable water consumption and associated pumping energy conservation.

Footprint Savings

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Waste Water Recycling

General Description

This is another equipment that is used for reducing carbon footprints and protecting environment. These are the equipment which are mandatory for large building like hotels to install. This plant cleans the kitchen and sanitary waste water with the help of enzymes before reusing it or releasing it to the local drains.

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

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Rain Water Harvesting (RWH)

General Description

With increasing concretization of urban areas and corresponding reduction in open spaces, rain water falling on the ground washes of the surface and is either drained to wastewater treatment plants (in cities that have well-functioning drainage systems) or causes frequent and sometimes hazardous flooding. Rain water represents a valuable resource that not only has great environmental value but can directly enhance the standard of living of urban communities while yielding cost savings (by reducing the need for purchasing municipal or commercially purchased water). All these benefits immediately follow upon the implementation of Rain Water Harvesting – an engineering solution by means of which rain water falling on rooftops and floor surfaces of residential properties is channeled to underground storage tanks or for recharging ring-wells dug specifically for storing this water.

Water ‘harvested’ during a single monsoon in many cities in India can greatly alleviate water scarcity or provide extra water that can be used for beneficial purposes such as gardening, washing compound floors, streets etc. during dry periods. If you believe rainwater harvesting can only be implemented in new constructions where it is part of the initial design – that is a misconception. Some degree of rainwater harvesting can be implemented in almost any residential property  - no matter how old or how small. In most cases the costs of implementation are modest in comparison with the cost of purchasing water routinely through commercial suppliers i.e. the payback periods are very short.

Most urban centers in India have RWH consultants or non-profit institutions that could provide solutions tailor-made for your needs and budgets.
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Strom Water Runoff Prevention

Description


Permeable paving technology comprises a range of materials and techniques for paving roads, cycle-paths, car-parks and pavements that allow the movement of water and air around the paving material. Common types of permeable pavement employed are porous asphalt, porous concrete, plastic grid systems, and rubber pavers. This intervention, relative to conventional non-porous paving materials, has the primary benefit of reducing storm water runoff from paved areas. Furthermore, permeable paving can reduce thermal as well as sediment and chemical pollution of receiving water bodies (into which stormwater runoff is discharged, except for Combined Sewer Overflow systems, wherein this occurs only during heavy rainfall events which exceed the design capacity of the treatment system). Both forms of water body pollution pose a threat to aquatic ecosystems. 

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Plumbing Improvements

General Description

A dripping tap can waste up to 10 liters of water a day and a running tap wastes 5 liters of water a minute. Get dripping taps fixed.

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Personal Habits

General Description

1. Reduce usage of paper towels and use an air dryer instead.

2. Dont provide mineral water to guests.

3.Avoid using disposable sachets of sugars and sauces.

4. Ensure vending machines use only china cups instead of plastic cups.

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

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