The web may not be climate change-combat’s poster child, but it may be its knight in shining armor. On the one hand we know that outlet usage has increased a lot since the internet and its buddies (smartphones, bluetooth keyboards, ipods) burst onto the scene; on the other, it has saved trees, and more to the point, whipped global communication into a frenzy the likes of which the pre-internet world never dreamed of. Even more to the point, sourcing and spreading data has become a whole lot easier. But the connotations of data, once a word reserved for Dexter’s Laboratory, have changed, too. The Internet has infused it with a new sense of community, accessibility, and at the very least, made it prettier. The idea that the web community and data interact with each other as that data is being accrued is revolutionary for anyone wishing to tread lighter on our planet.
The Tragedy of the Commons need no longer apply when it comes to acting more sustainably; these websites allow people to watch their little actions make a big difference.
Changers via 6WunderKinder
Changers‘ M.O.: get people to produce their own energy, and stop climate change in its tracks. The Berlin-based startup created a system to make this not only easier, but measurable, underscoring the connection between behavior and its impact on the environment. When installed, the Changers starter kit produces clean, solar energy that can easily recharge a cell phone or tablet, while collecting data that is displayed on the web. Users can upload and check on real time data, seeing their grams of CO2 saved stacked up against their friends, community or other participating cities worldwide. A Changers starter kit gets you a solar collection module (Maroshi™) and a solar-powered battery (Kalhuohfummi™), and the Changers software. In addition, every watt of energy produced (the kit can generate up to four watts per hour) becomes one Changers credit. Credits can be exchanged for freebies at websites like Holstee, a New York-based company that sells consciously produced products like upcycled wallets and earbuds sourced from renewable wood. Solar chargers still aren’t ultra convenient/portable for the most part, but the Changers kit is another step in the right direction. Plus, freedom from wall sockets means we could do our work outdoors on a sunny day.
Realizing how easy it is to feel like the climate change problem is too big to tackle on your own, Jason Karas created Carbonrally, a socially powered solution. “We would create a place where many people could discover and commit to small, positive actions over time,” the site explains. Carbonrally tracks the results of individual behavior and aggregates it to inspire others. The really fun part are the carbon-reducing challenges that anyone can sign up for, available on the site. (Ok, perhaps “challenge” doesn’t imply fun, but bear with us). The developers and admins add some, commenters suggest some and members create some. As a result, the site is flourishing with creative suggestions on how to reduce carbon emissions, in small, doable ways. People can operate as teams or individuals, and choose to engage in some healthy competition for recognition, and even an occasional prize. Some challenge samples + their results:
De-Cup Your Decaf: go one week without using any disposable coffee cups. Results: 12754 people have reduced CO2 emissions by 7.88 tons by completing this challenge so far.That’s equal to turning off the electricity of 7 homes for about 1 month!
Give your computer a Rest: unplug your computer every night for a month. Results: 8182 people have reduced CO2 emissions by 205.57 tons by completing this challenge so far.That’s equal to turning off the electricity of 237 homes for about 1 month!
What’s one thing LED lamps, e-star applicances and swapping out your toilet for a low flush one have in common? A bigger upfront cost to tag along with their increased energy efficiency. Using an extensive database, Econofy allows you to compare appliances and electronics side by side with your old, new or intended purchase, and shows whether you’ll save money on utility bills in the long run. To calculate the ROI on any upgrades, the site asks for the cents per kilowatt-hour, found on your electricity bill. Then, once you’ve selected your items (you can choose to just compare lightbulbs with lightbulbs, or everything in your home), Econofy calculates the upfront cost, how long it will take to pay off your newer item (if it’s pricier) and much money you’ll have saved over a period of ten years. If the efficiency is lower, and will crank up your bills and CO2 emissions in the process, the site suggests you shop around a little more.
All images are copyright of their creators. Sources are in alt text.