Written by Bernat Garrigos
Written by Bernat Garrigos
In previous articles I had already discussed my working method with GTD and Gmail and the Paperless Office. In recent months I have tried new tools that I have improved my sustainability in the office.
Today Gmail is still my best email management tool, but I’ve changed a couple other tools. On the one hand, I have replaced Toodledo by OmniFocus, the latter has a much better integration between the different platforms that I work with, the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad (no Windows version, sorry) and any task modified in any platform is synced on the cloud with the other platforms in a transparent and simple manner. Previous task management tools used never survived long in my work methodology, but OmniFocus has already lasted longer and is more productive than any other tried before.
The other tool in an essential GTD methodology is a repository of ideas, notes, documents, links, images, etc … You also need this tool to be multi platform and synchronize via the cloud. It does exists, and is called Evernote. In this case there is a multi platform solution for Mac, Windows, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc … It can hold many texts, files and images, and the program incorporates character recognition (OCR) for embedded images and a PDF reader, among other things. I miss a better file management built in, but I find it much more practical than Microsoft’s OneNote.
With this configuration I’m very close to the paperless office and print fewer documents each day. Let’s go on with the technological sustainability.
Today, many people already know some kind of green labelling program, informing about the environmental suitability of products. The best-known labels today are on organic food products. In this case an external certifier verifies that the organic product uses only natural products all along its full production cycle and handling.
A lesser-known label indicates the carbon footprint of a product, ie the amount of carbon that must be generated to produce, transport, use and dispose over a product lifetime. In England and France they have been in use for about 3 years, but the Mediterranean countries do not use them yet.
There are several carbon labels on the market, and in fact they are still in testing or deployment, as there is a high technical difficulty to implement them. To calculate and measure the CO2 requires a thorough study of the entire production chain, analyzing what resources are used, the energy used to move machines, furnaces, factories, tractors, water pumps, the trucks that must move raw materials, components, finished products, and the carbon that is used during end-use and its final stages of recycling or destruction. These studies can cost around € 25,000 per product and this hinders its implementation. Some of these labels are self-certified, and others are third-party certified. Some labels include only the manufacturing and distribution of the product while others also incorporate its end-use, with the difficulty that this implies, as a detergent may require 15% of CO2 to manufacture but will generate 85% of CO2 during use, and this varies greatly depending on using cold or hot water to wash or the longer or shorter program in use.
Some large stores like Tesco, the first retailer in the UK, already have more than one hundred certified products with the Carbon Reduction Label and contrasted by the Carbon Trust International. Studies done on detergents, fruit juices, potatoes, bulbs teach us a lot about the life cycle of the products we use in everyday life.
Being aware of the impact of our consumption is the first step to being able to choose the best option to reduce our environmental footprint.
We congratulate the companies that have already begun this process. Now the social pressure should help these labels to spread to many more products and countries.
In the absence of mass produced electric cars, I recently acquired a hybrid car with gasoline and electric motors. This small model it publicized to use less than 4 litres/100 km (more than 60 miles/gallon). The truth is I have not got any records so low, but I can share with you some interesting experiences I’ve had in the process of adaptation to the new vehicle.
Obviously the low consumption of the car was the main attraction for having opted for a hybrid car, but I’ve learned that not all savings are due to a more efficient car. Initially I drove the car with the same driving style than before, and the average gas consumption was a bit less than 6 l/100 km (40 miles/gallon). Comparable powered and sized gasoline cars could perform at approx 7 l/100 km (33 miles/gallon), so I figured out that the better technology in the car does improve my savings by 15 to 20% less gas use. Respectable, but still far from what it is necessary for people to expend more on a hybrid car just due to economic reasoning.
I did a little Internet search on the hybrid car driving to try to reduce this consumption and found that the car has some little help, but you need to practice it. This particular car has a less than usual tachometer divided into three parts. The needle marks at each moment how ecologically we are driving. The bottom part is the charge area, that’s when the car is breaking, is slowing down or making a steep descent and then it uses the energy to charge the battery. The second part of the tachometer is the eco driving. It is the time when both the gasoline engine and electric motor provide all the power to move the car. The top part is the power driving, when you are using too many gasoline.
To reach the most gas saving you must stay between the charge and eco parts and avoid the power area as much as possible. This is not always possible as going uphill or overtaking will demand you to push the gas pedal into the power area, but if you respect it as much as possible, you’ll end up driving at lower speeds with smoother accelerations. Applying this simple rule the car will use as low as 4.5 l/100 km (52 miles/gallon), or 20% less consumption than with less eco driving style, which added to previous savings makes the car can spend 40 % less than a comparable car.
I’ve got two conclusions from it. First and most obvious, savings not only depend on the car but on driving style too. Driving at slightly lower speeds and no hard acceleration provides 50% of the savings the car can get, and that applies to all cars!
The second conclusion is that to achieve these savings the car incorporates some very interesting aids. A needle type tachometer with instantaneous fuel consumption, a car dashboard light that changes color when we go into power zone, and various values of instantaneous and average consumption on the two screens available on the car. Theses aids are very important. They reminded me a product that we sell at Actigreen, WaterPebble. This is a small piece of plastic with some blinking lights alerting you when your show has lasted too long and you should be ending. The WaterPebble helped my to rush my showers the same way my new hybrid gives me all the information on savings that encourages me to try to go for still higher savings..
It is quite clear that technological advances serve not only to achieve energy savings while a casual use but it will also help modify your behavior to achieve even greater savings.