As consumers, as employees, and as leaders; what tools do we have to measure our impact on the world? While anyone can set an intention to live or operate more sustainably, how do we actually know that our actions make a difference?
While big businesses have the resources to implement digitised monitoring and measurement systems, everyday consumers at home have had fewer digital resources at their disposal. This is rapidly changing as our access to more digital sustainability tools increases.
Given the continued advancement and adoption of digital technology and products, it only makes sense to merge environmental sustainability and digitisation. Our use of digital products allows us to be more efficient, learn more, and bring us closer to isolated natural environments. It also helps us to communicate and provides us with tools to organise our daily lives better.
Digital technology has become so embedded in our world that our use of digital products is second nature. More digital tools are now emerging that allow us to measure our sustainability, individual carbon footprints, how much we recycle, and how much water we can save through our efforts. We now have open-source consumer-targeted digital tools that allow us to control the consumption and associated environmental footprints (carbon, water, and ecological) of our homes and daily lives.
One of the most common digital tools is the carbon footprint calculator. A typical carbon footprint calculator records and processes your data to calculate the total carbon emissions for a person over a specific time period. Many people are inclined to think that their carbon footprint is the accumulation of their direct carbon emissions from driving a car or using electricity at home. What we may not consider is that all of our consumptive habits contribute to our overall emissions in some way, even a bottle of water or the food on your plate. When you throw your food waste in the bin, it will result in carbon emissions down the line when food degrades.
Carbon footprint calculators are a great digital product to capture the entirety of your carbon emission through everything you do and consume. After answering questions about your daily activities and consumption, you are given a single figure, your carbon footprint in metric tonnes per given time period.
The average carbon footprint for a South African citizen is 7.5 metric tonnes (tons of CO2e) of carbon emitted per year. For Europe, it is 6.8 tons of CO2e, and worldwide it is 4.8 tons of CO2e.
Carbon footprint calculators have been a great digital tool for us to measure our carbon emissions and many of them provide us with offset ideas and projects. For example, a user may be able to plant 12 indigenous trees to offset their specific carbon footprint and become carbon neutral for a year.
Instead of a standard website where a user will input their data, carbon footprint calculators have become much more advanced and integrated into our daily lives. Many newer calculators, like MyEarth and Klima, are installed as mobile apps that track your daily activity (i.e driving, walking, and general recreation) and provide you with a real-time carbon footprint. You may be able to get instant feedback on how much carbon you emit with your last trip to the grocery store. Some go a step further by providing a list of carbon offset projects and initiatives that you have the option to join to mitigate your impact.
It is this type of integration where sustainability and digitisation are weaved into our daily routines to make its adoption almost effortless. Access to these open-source measurement tools, like mobile carbon calculators, is a great resource that teaches us the impact of our everyday actions, shows us alternatives that are less carbon-intensive, and presents us with options where we can offset our individual carbon footprints.
formula D_ has leveraged the power and capability of web and mobile applications to create digital tools that facilitate learning about sustainability and provide people with the resources to manage their environmental impacts. The intention is to use technology as a means to increase your capacity to live sustainably.