Green Clean Effort
Feb 28, 2009

Global warming? – that’s too global a concept for me. Vanishing glaciers? Thinning ice layers at North Pole? – never wish to be near a glacier nor will I ever be anywhere near the North Pole.

That has been my attitude to talks of global warming. I thought that, as an ordinary individual, I could do very little to contribute in this cause. It must be the task of the big corporations, the developed nations and bodies like UN to investigate, research, plan and work out methods to arrest and reverse the climate change process that we, the homo sapiens, have so meticulously orchestrated over the centuries, more so in the last couple of hundred years.

Then I saw the film “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore at a seminar on carbon credit at the training centre of the CA Institute last month. It’s a very hard hitting film. The realisation dawned on me that “we have entered a period of consequences”. We have already begun to face the effects of our past actions. The Katrina hurricane of 2005…… the Mumbai deluge of July 2005 …the total absence of winter in Kolkata in 08-09….things are really coming closer home now.

I have now realised that my attitude of avoidance and thinking that ‘the problem is not mine’ must change. Even as an ordinary individual person, I must take it upon myself to do my own “small” bit to turn the tide around. And if several of us start doing the same, aggregation effect will be consequential. In our day to day lives, there are many things that we do or don’t do or could do differently, which can contribute in cumulation to the reversal of climate change of the earth. It needs a modification of lifestyle for all of us.

Complied below is a list of 16 simple things that we can do at an individual level and small businesses, apart from, of course, what can be done by big corporations and bigger nations and government. The focus is on conservation of energy and on using renewable energy sources and these two elements form the basis of the lifestyle change approach that is recommended.

1) Switch off your computer, monitor, printer whenever you are away from office for a while or out for lunch, and surely at the end of each day.
2) Extend the usage life of IT hardware – unless they are energy inefficient
3) Go for ‘green’ desktops – low energy consuming models that consume one-tenth the power of a regular computer.
4) Reduce usage of paper – disconnect or turn the printer off.
5) Unplug all chargers, whether at work or at home, unless they are charging something, and switch off stand-by mode TV, radio, hi-fi.
6) Change light bulbs to CFL or better still to LED lamps.
7) Move the AC thermostat temperature up by a degree or two.
8 ) Make a carpool to and from work
9) Stop using disposable plates and cups – instead invest in a dishwasher
10) Opt for using solar, wind or biomass energy
11) Walk or bike or use mass transit as much as possible
12) Recycle as much as you can – carry your own bag or packet to the shop
13) Use less hot water – heating water takes up lots of energy
14) Use a clothesline instead of a dryer
15) Plant a tree – it will absorb carbon dioxide
16) Read, learn and spread the word – knowledge is power

For more information please refer to the following sites

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3 Responses

  1. Understand the focus on contributing in every small way to the environment, but this is a highly complex subject which we are only beginning to understand. There’s too much fear mongering – every natural disaster is not due to global warming; worse warming has taken place in earth’s history and climate changes all the time. And yet we should be conscious and do the right things – plant a tree is a great suggestion. But sometimes we can do the wrong thing driven by what’s fashionable. For example its sometimes more energy intensive to collect and recycle some things, than to just dispose, if they are biodegradable . Just dumping them is better environmentally.

    Just discovered your blog – very nice writing that is thought provoking.

  2. Thank you Ramesh for your comments. Yes I agree this is a complex subject and as a layman I do not understand all the issues fully. Recycling paper and bags is of course becoming standard practice in many countries. Finally, it is knowledge, dissemination of knowledge and sensitivity to the environment that will matter, in my opinion.

  3. Bwise

    As Ramesh has correctly pointed out, its important to be aware that there is a flip side to every apparently “green” act. For instance printing out a document vs seeing it on a computer monitor – (dont forget the power bill), or driving your car with the AC on Vs windows rolled down (extra drag at high speeds makes the engine work harder). There are many variables and sometimes commonsense does not tell us the right thing to do.

    But two obserations :

    1) One often forgets what is the end goal, and to prioritize what you can do. I find people bragging about not using plastic stirrers for their coffee. The same folks jump on cross country flight when the meeting could be taken on the phone. So misdirected morality or just being fashionably green prevails over the desire to do the math. It’s like claiming to have done “your bit” towards erradicating poverty by throwing a daily penny in the beggar’s bowl when you oould donate the same money in lump sum to a fund.

    When it comes to your carbon footprint – think if there is a one right thing thats equivalent to a million tiny things. And that one right thing could sometimes be doing nothing different.

    2) Biologically, we’re like a bacteria colony. Growing exponentially following a geometric progresion, striving for greater longevity, and higher living standards. We measure our success not in terms of “sustaining” current levels but by “rate of growth” and speed of consumption. Even if every individual cut down his Cfootprint by half compared to his previous generation, would it matter net net? Do we expect slower consumption of finite resources to last us forever?

    Your CFootprint only determines the “when” rather than the “if” and juxtaposed with other modes of self-destruction, the “how”. We need to make quantum leaps and find viable alternatives since plugging holes in our usual way of doing things won’t take us very far.

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