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...
Pressure Cookers

General Description

Using a pressure cooker to cook dals, lentils, beans, potatoes as opposed to cooking these in an open or covered utensil results in approximately 70% reduction in carbon footprint associated with LPG, PNG consumption while cooking these. Also, since it reduces cooking times significantly, it results in a proportional savings on gas expense.

 

Footprint Savings

 

Using a pressure cooker to cook dals, lentils, beans, potatoes as opposed to cooking these in an open or covered utensil results in approximately 70% reduction in carbon footprint associated with LPG, PNG consumption while cooking these.
Cost Savings

 

Resource Savings

Microwaves vs. Conventional Stoves/Ovens

General Description

Microwaves save energy by reducing cooking times. They save up to 50% on cooking energy requirements compared to a regular oven, especially for small quantities of food.

In comparison with Pressure-Cooker based LPG-stove cooking, for the case of rice cooking, Microwaves save approximately 14 to 24% energy.

Grid-supplied electricity in India is predominantly coal-based thermal energy (with high greenhouse gas emissions relative to LPG) and that transmission and distribution losses are in the range of 35%, electrical energy is comparatively very ‘dirty’ compared to LPG. Thus, despite the energy requirement for microwaves being 14 to 24% less than for LPG-stove based cooking, these gains are entirely squandered because of the nation’s electricity generation choices. However, if home appliances are being powered by renewable or clean sources of electric power, then microwaves are clearly the advisable option.

In comparison with electric rice cookers, microwaves are far less energy efficient for cooking rice and should be avoided to Minimise carbon footprint.

1. Microwaves Ovens use very high frequency radio waves to penetrate the surface of food to heat water molecules inside.                                                                                                                                                                   

2. Microwave Ovens are not suitable for large size food like cooking full size chicken.                                  

3. With Conventional Ovens, minimize the preheating time. Unless you are baking breads or pastries you may not even need to preheat.                                                                                                                                                                      

4. Do not open the Oven door too often when checking the food. Each opening drops temperature by 25 degree Celsius.                                                                                                                                   

5. Turn off electric burners several minutes before the allotted cooking time.                                             

6. On electric stove tops, use flat bottomed pans that make full contact with the element. A warped or rounded pan will waste most of the heat.                                                                                                               

7. When cooking on a gas burner, use moderate flame settings to conserve natural gas. Remember that a blue flame means your gas stove is operating efficiently. Yellowish flame means it needs cleaning   

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Organic Groceries

General Description

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource
Electric Rice Cookers / Electric Water Kettles

Cooking rice in an automatic electric rice cooker is unequivocally the most energy efficient method of cooking rice. Compared to even the most carefully monitored method of cooking rice on an open flame (a combination of high and low flame), electric cookers save at least 55% energy. This is because these devices reduce heat lost to the environment through insulated construction and controlled heating. In terms of carbon footprint, however, the analysis yields a surprising result. Stemming from the fact that grid-supplied electricity in India is predominantly coal-based thermal energy (with high greenhouse gas emissions relative to LPG) and that transmission and distribution losses are in the range of 35%, electrical energy is comparatively very ‘dirty’ compared to LPG. Thus, despite the energy requirement for electric cookers being 55% lesser than LPG-stove based cooking, these gains are entirely squandered because of the nation’s electricity generation choices. However, if home appliances are being powered by renewable or clean sources of electric power, then electric cookers are clearly the advisable option. The same logic applies to using electric kettles for boiling or heating versus stove-top heating; despite the energy requirement for electric water kettles being significantly lesser than LPG-stove based boiling, the emissions related to electricity production in India results in electric kettles exerting a higher footprint for obtaining the same amount of heating

Solar Cookers

General Description

Solar cookers are devices that concentrate solar heat energy in a limited area to heat substances kept in that region. These devices completely eliminate cooking fuel and can be used to cook day-time meals without adding to your carbon footprint.Domestic solar cooking systems are generally of two kinds: solar box cookers and parabolic solar cookers. A solar box cooker is a highly insulated box with a glass covering at the top and a reflector(s) which directs the sun’s rays into the cooking compartment. It converts light energy from the sun into heat energy through the use of reflection and the greenhouse effect principles. The heat is then used to prepare meals. A parabolic solar cooker achieves greater heating temperatures by employing a curved polished aluminum ‘dish’ (varying its diameter varies the ‘collecting’ area and thereby determines the amount of heat that can be harnessed) that directs the sun’s rays to the focal point of the device where a cooking utensil is placed. Parabolic cookers are more suitable for cooking greater quantities of food at a time and also have faster cooking times relative to box cookers. However, their size limits their use in places where sun-lit spaces are cramped (such as balconies etc.). They are ideally suited for roof terraces or backyards/front-yards.

Footprint Savings

Carbon footprint calculations reveal that using a solar cooker for cooking one 5-person meal a day (comprising of rice and dal) can yield a carbon footprint reduction of 172 kgCO2e per year relative to conventional LPG-stove cooking.
Cost Savings

Using a solar cooker for cooking one 5-person meal a day (comprising of rice and dal) can yield a annual savings of Rs. Rs. 850 to Rs. 1000 per year due to avoided LPG consumption.
Resource Savings

Click Here To View Resource
Piped Gas vs. LPG

General Description

While LPG cylinders have been the predominant method for delivering cooking fuel to urban households, Piped Natural Gas (PNG) systems are now becoming available in many urban areas. Wherever possible, PNG systems should be preferred relative to LPG cylinders as this can result in a lower carbon footprint due to two primary advantages:Per unit of energy required for cooking, Natural Gas produces approximately 11% lesser Greenhouse Gas emissions.
LPG fuel requires vehicular transportation from centers of production to the location of its use. This added fossil fuel consumption adds to the footprint of LPG fuel consumption

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Pre-Soaking Beans/Rice

General Description

Pre-soaking beans and rice prior to any cooking, stove-top, microwave, electric pot etc, always results in reduced cooking times and the proportional reductions in fuel consumption as well carbon footprint. Pre-soaking rice for 10 to 30 minutes prior to cooking can result in 8 to 10% energy savings. The energy savings from soaking beans overnight prior to cooking are significantly greater.

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Meat Consumption

General Description

Meat production requires livestock (cow, buffalo, goat, etc.) farming - a process that in turn relies on a wide array of processes and activities to feed and sustain livestock. These activities range from energy use for cultivation of animal feed to fertilizer and manure application on land used for such cultivation; all leading to varying degrees of emissions of methane (for instance, from manure released from livestock) and nitrous oxide (from nitrogen-based fertilizers). In addition, livestock such as cow and buffalo release noteworthy quantities of methane as by-product of digestive and internal fermentation processes during their life cycle.Furthermore, livestock farming land represents land that is cleared and deforested and results in reduced Carbon-absorption potential of the land owing to elimination of trees.All these impacts are precursors to meat processing, transportation, and storage. The sum of the greenhouse gas emissions of all these activities results in a staggering meat consumption related Carbon Footprint. Globally, it has been calculated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that the sum total of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming are approximately equal to those from all automobiles in the world combined!. To put it into perspective - one kg of mutton production in India results in the same carbon footprint as from the cultivation of approximately 12 kilograms of rice. It is clear that cutting down on meat related footprint is vital to achieve a carbon neutral existence and for the food security of India as well as the world. Our agricultural resources can feed far more people if more of our nutrition were derived from non-meat sources.
Footprint Savings

Controlling meat consumption can yield drastic reductions in your personal carbon footprint. Cutting out meat-based meal every alternate day can reduce your carbon footprint by almost 420 kg of CO2e per year!. To achieve this magnitude of carbon dioxide absorption, you would have to plant approximately 2 trees.

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

Food Miles

General Description

1. Minimise Your Food Miles: Buying locally grown fresh groceries and locally manufactured processed foods has direct implications on carbon footprint due to the greenhouse gas emissions related to road, sea and air transport. It is possible to calculate the total ‘food miles’ associated with your diet and determine its impact on your carbon footprint. Environmentally conscious communities in Northeastern United States have created the concept of the 100-mile diet wherein consumers are encouraged to buy groceries and even processed foods that are entirely produced (including ingredients) within 100 miles of their home. While adhering to such a stringent diet requires great discipline and meticulous research in some instances, a less intense from of food-mile restricted diet can easily followed in India.

A beginning can be made by researching what foods are grown within your state (asking your local grocer and vegetable vendor can prove very informative), and evolving a diet largely comprising of these foods. This can also be adopted while on vacation or work-related trips: asking to be served locally grown varieties of rice as opposed to the pan-India obsession – Basmati Rice, for instance is an example. Or consuming fruits and juices that a derived from locally grown varieties can also have a notable impact on your carbon footprint.
Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

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