How Green Technology Is Making Your Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Easier

The climate crisis is a demanding topic. Almost everywhere you turn there are relevant headlines fighting for your attention: one paper may have just revealed how badly increased emissions from fires is affecting CO₂ reduction targets, while another may advocate for a broader acceptance of complete life cycle design to forestall constant filling of landfills. 

These pushes to educate the consumer are vital to meet climate change goals by 2050, but a central component of the message is left out. 

Detailed and data-backed claims of upcoming catastrophe are needed to grab attention and catalyze initial action. However, the solution to these problems are not one-and-done actions. Ongoing and consistent change of consumer behavior is required. 

To inspire such a high degree of change, the sustainability movement needs to be drawn down to the personal level. People care about what affects us directly; without a direct relation to our personal lives, we will stick to what we know.

Consumption is about as personal as it gets, and the relationship between sustainability and consumption is not new. We are encouraged to stop using plastic straws, turn off the lights when we leave the room, buy local, and carpool if possible. There’s a lot of information available on what we can use our consumption to do for sustainability. 

The opposite, though, is rarely focused on. What can sustainability do for us? Luckily, the whole point of sustainability is to redefine how we consume.

Green technology is already changing our relationship with consumption. 

A friend of mine installed solar panels on his house last year. One day, he was cooking dinner on the grill outside and got tired of opening the door each time he went inside. Instead, he left it open. In the summer, his solar panels produce more than enough electricity to power his house. Being careless with the energy for a couple of minutes did not cost him, or anyone else, anything. 

That is certainly a small example – just keeping the door open – but I imagine a scenario where our day-to-day lives are littered with similar small savings. 

  • Instead of having to go out of our way to avoid creating waste, waste-to-value technologies such as anaerobic digestion and insect farms not only eliminate our waste, but turn it into green energy and soil amendments. 
  • Our built environments, which currently create 40% of US carbon emissions, have the potential to become net-zero when green technologies are implemented. When these technologies are incorporated into new homes and buildings or retrofitted into existing structures, it’s easier for households and businesses to be net-zero.
  • Carbon capture and sequestration could eliminate the massive carbon footprint of cement, iron, and chemical industrial facilities, decarbonizing the products and materials we rely on every day with no effort on our part.

All added together, the nature of our consumption changes. It’s no longer a decision between this loss or that one, and your decisions are not a constant fighting balance of losses versus gains. Instead, you gain the ability to make choices for your benefit without applying a cost to somewhere, or someone, else.

By incorporating sustainable solutions, we begin to change our relationship with consumption. The use of something – whether it is power to heat your home, gas to get you to work, or food to feed your family – moves away from the cost and even has the potential to become net-positive. We, the consumer, get what we want, and hopefully help meet climate goals along the way.  

Sidney Key
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