How (green) are you today? Prof. dr. ir. Krikke - Q2 2012
How (green) are you today?
Citizens expect the government to take care of our environment. New
legislation should force companies to be green. Government bodies should
give the right example by purchasing green products and services. Household
collection should be cheap and readily available. And of course the Queen
has to travel by bus otherwise her footprint becomes too high.
But do we help them in this Endeavor? Not really.
An evening walk in our neighborhood tells you that many people are dumping
their garden waste in public parks and even on sidewalks. Ugly graffiti
paintings on flyovers just outside the village spoil the view in our
beautiful river valley. And what to think of the annual three days of
Carnival, that convert every street into a local landfill.
As a customer we expect industry to be corporately responsible. Products
should be energy-efficient, packaging reusable and disposed products should
be recycled properly. And of course child labour is totally unacceptable.
But what do we -as consumers- contribute to sustainability ourselves?
Perfectly functioning i-pads and cell-phones are traded in after just a few
months of use only because a new model has come out. Research show that
proper returns¹ management does not create brand loyalty hence green
companies are not rewarded. Many customers are very reluctant to buy
refurbished products or recycled consumables.
And so on and so forth.
I guess most of us still have a kind of layback attitude when it comes to
sustainability. But being sustainable does not imply ³being green just for
the sake of it. Many experts predict massive problems due to resource
scarcity, possibly forcing entire supply chains to shut down. We do not feel
the real consequences yet but soft signals have been visible for quite
some time. For example, over the last decade cashew nuts were temporarily
unavailable many times in European supermarkets. The reasons for this are
twofold: domestic demand in producing countries has grown tremendously and
resource scarcity has limited supply. So far the market is correcting that
through price increases and we can do without nuts from time to time. But
other more critical commodities have similar issues.
The most intuitive environmental measure from a resource angle is the global
footprint. My personal footprint (according to various calculators) is
roughly 2.2 planets. This means that in case all 7 billion global citizens
would consume resources the way I do we would need more than 2 planets
Earth. Now, presuming that finding another similar planet in our universe is
unlikely to happen, the conclusion must be that I am over-consuming. Still
relatively little though compared the average European (who needs 6 planets)
or the average American (8 planets). Most of them are not even aware of the
concept 'global footprint'.
So what can you do? More than you think. One can reduce the personal
footprint severely (over 50%) by simple measures. Buy more at local
suppliers, use green energy, eat less (red) meat, do not fly if you can
travel otherwise. Bring your garden waste to the municipal depot.
These examples all relate to daily consumption. Recently Apple Computers®
announced that more than 60% of their total carbon footprint lies in the
supply chain (and not in the user phase). As I explained on many occasions
before: refurbishing and remanufacturing help to reduce this footprint.
You may not be green today but how about tomorrow? I have set the first step
by cancelling a needless trip down under and by eating less carbon rich
food. If we expect our governments and industry to be green we should behave
Where can I buy a refurbished dishwasher now that the old one has broken