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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Recycled Construction Materials

General Description

Construction and Repair of buildings is a very resource and energy intensive process – a visit to any residential construction site makes this fact palpable. Steel, Cement, Plaster, PVC, Mortar, Bricks, River Sand, Wood, Paints, Water are just a small fraction of the material inputs. All these have an associated carbon footprint, which when summed can have a substantial impact on your personal carbon footprint. While some amounts of new virgin materials are unavoidable (at least given the current state of technology), the are a few key construction materials that are available, either commercially in the market or through innovative non-profit / research partnership initiatives, made from recycled construction debris or other waste products which can mitigate some of your construction related carbon footprint. Some key construction / repair materials belonging to this realm of recycled or eco-friendly products are:

Hollow-Concrete Construction Blocks (made from recycled construction debris)

Fly-Ash Bricks

Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Carbon) Paints

Pit-Sand (as alternative to River Sand)

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Fly Ash Bricks

Description


Hollow Silt Bricks and Reinforced hollow bricks with fly ash can be used as an alternate construction material. Research indicates carbon emissions of mud bricks is approximately 90% lower than conventional brick. Also, reuse of power plant slag in the form of gypsum plates can also greatly reduce the embodied Carbon emissions relative to conventional insulation materials. Construction impacts are also greatly dependent on building design, post-use plans for the construction materials, and dismantling practices adopted followed during post-use site clearance. Impacts can be greatly mitigated by designing structures that are modular and composed of easily reusable materials wherein no energy intensive processes are involved in re-deploying them at other construction sites. 

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Low VOC Paint

General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

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No VOC Paint

General Description

These are paints made from natural raw ingredients such as water, plant oils and resins, plant dyes and essential oils; natural minerals such as clay, chalk and talcum; milk casein, natural latex, bees' wax, earth and mineral dyes. Water-based natural paints give off almost no smell. The oil-based natural paints usually have a pleasant fragrance of citrus or essential oils. Allergies and sensitivities to these paints are uncommon.                                                                                                                                                                   These paints do not emit any air pollutants that affect the atmosphere and environment. It produce “zero” CO2 emission during manufacture. These paints are the safest for health and environment.

Footprint Savings

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Alternatives for Wood in Construction& Interiors

General Description

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LEED Architecture

General Description

Services of these innovative, LEED-India (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and registered (with the Indian Green Building Council) architects are available, and would prove economically viable in the long term, to anyone that accepts responsibility for their construction footprint and resolves to Minimise its impact on global warming. The degree to which one chooses to delve into adopting green architecture recommendations might be influenced by budget decisions, but some interventions can always be incorporated at the initial stages with more elaborate interventions scheduled for later periods if funds become available.

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Eco friendly tiles

Description


 These are one of the best products that can be used not only aesthetics but also for improving the ground water resources. These tiles have cuts in between that reduces the concrete area and allows the indiviidual to grow grass there. Works perfectly for aesthetics and at the same tile maintains a constant touch with the ground.

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