When we think about the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), we immediately recall recycling and the efforts cities make to enforce this practice. Although, there are many practical and effective solutions, the 3R’s don’t receive equal attention. Typically recycling is made easy by providing receptacles to separate paper, aluminum, glass, plastic and even tires.
We are also mindful to reduce our consumption of water, electricity, paper products, adopt walking, biking and opt for public transportation.
But one R - Reuse tends to be overlooked. Consumers participate by using grocery totes, reusable water bottles and by donating items to charities. But these facilities have limited space, and many items are not accepted such as furniture, exercise equipment, textbooks, encyclopedias and electrical fixtures. Much of this never ends up back in circulation even though it could be used by others.
Tradepal’s mission is to make reuse as easy as recycling. The online service encourages reuse by simplifying the process so users can list items with images in less than a minute and seamlessly broadcast their virtual sale to their networks. No need for classifieds or to compete with power users to generate visibility. All users’ items are displayed on their profile complete with image, price, condition and description.
Tradepal offers an online network that engages buy, sell, barter and giveaway with trusted users while helping the environment. Through tradepal’s peer-to-peer marketplace, consumers have a timesaving tool to reduce their estimated $7,000 in unused household items sitting around and put them back into circulation in just 1-click.
Planning a yard sale, but dreading the summer heatwave? Moving and in need to sell or giveaway some items rather than storing them indefinitely? Just visit tradepal and list all your items and share, and the offers will come to your inbox.
This past week I held a moving sale on tradepal and generated hundreds of views and valid offers. As a result, my personal carbon savings increased to 951 kg of CO2, the equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 24 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.
Here is a summary of the items that were recommerced to four users:
The total amount of carbon savings from these users was a combined savings of 2,880 kg, or 2.9 tons of CO2 by choosing my recommerced items listed on tradepal rather than new.
The following highlights some significant equivalents of the carbon savings resulting from this recommerce:
To find out the equivalency results of a user’s carbon savings on tradepal, simply enter the amount into the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.
Author Tamar Burton
“The sharing economy is not motivated by environmental benefits”. This is the result of a recent survey by professors from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of South Carolina. According to their findings, the most important reasons why people share are financial constraints and convenience. Therefore the study suggests that companies looking to win over new customers should emphasize monetary benefits instead of sustainability in their marketing. This statement is yet another sign that the role of sustainability is currently not being sufficiently acknowledged in the collaborative consumption discussion. But I think it should. Here’s why:
Sustainable development, as defined by the United Nations, is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Being on the agenda of many governments, NGOs and corporations, sustainability is a larger and more mainstream concept than collaborative consumption. Apart from the fact that “going green” has gained broad acceptance among consumers, most governments and companies put a large amount of resources towards meeting specific sustainability goals such as CO2 reduction. Thus in comparison to the attention sustainability has received in the last decade, the sharing economy is still a small phenomenon.
As sharing economy advocate Rachel Botsman points out in her book “What’s mine is yours”, collaborative consumption has the potential to help achieve sustainability goals by reducing waste and pollution as well as extending the life-cycles of products. Transactions between individuals that were inconvenient in the pre-internet age are becoming worthwhile again thanks to the coordination through modern technology. For instance, instead of throwing away your clutter or laboriously trying to resell or re-gift used objects offline, online platforms make it easy to distribute goods to where they are most needed. In other words, acting sustainably has become a lot simpler.
But how large is the environmental impact of the sharing economy really? Although it is still too early to assess the long term benefits of the sharing economy, there have been attempts to measure the positive impact of individual applications such as carsharing. It is estimated, for instance, that every shared car replaces nine to 13 owned ones. As 20% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions are produced by personal vehicles, car and ridesharing platforms could significantly contribute to CO2 reduction.
Most consumers may merely see these benefits as a ‘nice side-effect’. However since the sharing economy could significantly contribute to a sustainable future, it is imaginable that global players involved in the sustainability debate will find exactly this aspect most interesting. Therefore in contrast to the above findings that collaborative marketplaces should not advertise with environmental benefits, I believe that the sharing economy can profit from associating with sustainability. This may give it the attention it needs to reach the next level.
Guest Blogger: Francesca Pick
Trust is the foundation of all economic transactions, in the real world and on the Web. The crucial difference between the two is that in the real world, we have ways of judging whether our counterpart is trustworthy, whereas on the Web, we usually transact with people we have never met. Especially in the growing sector of peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms, users share very valuable assets such as houses and cars, exposing them to higher risk than in classic e-commerce. According to a recent study by Campbell Mithun, trust concerns are the number one barrier to sharing on collaborative consumption platforms. This indicates that as the sharing economy grows, a foundation of trust between users is necessary to lower their perceived risk of participating in P2P marketplaces.
I investigated this topic further in my bachelor thesis titled Building Trust in P2P Marketplaces: an Empirical Analysis of Trust Systems for the Sharing Economy. I received many interesting insights by interviewing people from across the globe such as researchers, social innovators, P2P platforms as well as startups attempting to create online trust systems.
A number of tools that help users judge each other’s trustworthiness online already exists. Five-star rating systems as popularized by eBay are a very common type of feedback system. These ratings are often accompanied by user comments and reviews to provide descriptive information about a transaction. On platforms such as Taskrabbit, identity verification by phone and email as well as background checks are tools used to ensure safety. Further tools that verify identities and let users tap into their existing social networks when joining a new site are social media connect buttons (for example Facebook Connect). Several startups such as TrustCloud, Briiefly, Legit and PeerTrust are attempting to merge these tools into one trust system that allows users to take their online reputation with them wherever they go.
Apart from these tools my findings suggest that online communities can also foster trust. According to an interviewee, tight-knit communities of people with similar interests, tastes and values can function as a type of trust system. This is the case at the German ridesharing company Carpooling.com, where most users have in common that they are current or former students.
Guest Blogger: Francesca Pick
Francesca studied Communication and Cultural Management at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany. To read more of her research, please visit the full thesis.
Could internet geeks be the new heros for sustainability? If you rank this based on new evidence that increased dependence on online activities can impact carbon emissions, then yes.
A study just published by GeSI, titled Measuring the Energy Reduction Impact of Selected Broadband-Enabled Activities Within Households highlights not just the challenge entailed in addressing climate change, but also the opportunities. The GeSI stands for Global e-Sustainability Initiative that is a strategic partnership of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector and organizations committed to creating and promoting technologies and practices that foster economic, environmental and social sustainability.
With the support of BT, Ericsson, Verizon, Deutsch Telecom the GeSI study was implemented and assessed the link between broadband usage and net energy reduction. The findings supported that by making the world’s energy infrastructure more efficient via the combined benefits of smart grids, transportation, buildings and the increased adoption of travel substitution, the result could be a global reduction of carbon emissions by 15 percent.
To make this a reality, the following eight online activities would need greater adoption, as measured by the study:
On the micro-level, this success would be dependent on the increased adoption of these eight online activities at the residential level. To quantify this, the report showed how we contribute to reduced energy consumption and resulting carbon emissions at a net rate of around 2 percent of total national levels in the U.S., Germany, Spain, Italy, the U.K. and France. This reduction would be the equivalent to removing 55 million vehicles off the roads.
Verizon alone has over 130M customer connections ranging from wire, wireless, broadband and video and is focused on minimizing environmental impact of operations and supply chain. Based on these eight consumer activities, the study evidenced the role of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in addressing climate change and ultimately facilitating efficient and low carbon development.
For additional reading on breaking the sustainability barrier, visit:
The Zeronauts: The Modern Argonauts
The business of self storage is a United States-based industry that began to appear in the 90s and grew by 3,000 new facilities annually from the years 2000 to 2005. By 2009, there were 46,000 storage facilities in the United States. Additional facilities are found in Canada with over 3,000 spaces and Austria with more than 1,000 and totals 58,000 facilities worldwide.
Based on the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 40 million people in the United States move annually. Part of the reason for the growing demand for storage stems from the various life stages such as college, marriage, divorce, retirement and death of a family member and various natural disasters.
Here are some statistics on the storage epidemic:
The four most common state-to-state moves in 2010 were, California to Texas 69,000 movers, New York to Florida 55,000, Florida to Georgia 50,000, and California to Arizona 47,000.
By 2010, the storage epidemic - and the failure to pay for storage after 90 days had become so common that cable networks launched two shows on the trend. Storage Wars and Auction Hunters have been growing in ratings ever since. Storage Wars has drawn over 5 million viewers and averages 2.1 million per episode. With the increasing amount of ‘stuff’ people store, additional programs have debuted including Auction Kings, Pawn Stars, each stemming from the desire to find a good deal from someone else’s no longer used items.
While this has been labeled entertainment, the core problem stems from the failure of people to part with their ‘stuff’. Imagine all of the outdated electronics and furniture that could have been put back to use years ago rather than storage.
Did You Know You Harbored $7,000 in Unused Items
Are Yard Sales Losing Their Curb Appeal?
All 135 Space Shuttle missions visualized in one screen:
Grand Finale 2010-11 from McLean Fahnestock on Vimeo.
On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country.
In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.
The nation’s estimated population on this July Fourth.
Fourth of July Cookout Trivia:
Almost 1 in 3
The chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 19.7 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2012. This estimate represents almost one-third of the nation’s estimated total. North Carolina (8.6 million) and Minnesota (7.6 million) were also homes to large numbers of pigs.
7.2 billion pounds
Total production of cattle and calves in Texas in 2011. Chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on your backyard grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production. And if the beef did not come from Texas, it very well may have come from Nebraska (4.6 billion pounds) or Kansas (4.0 billion pounds).
Please Pass the Potato
Potato salad and potato chips are popular food items at Fourth of July barbecues. Approximately half of the nation’s spuds were produced in Idaho or Washington state in 2011.
We recently met John Elkington, author of “The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier”. Elkington’s book explores ways in which corporations, citizens, cities and countries can tackle the civilizational challenges at the intersection between demography, consumerist lifestyles, natural resource availability and climate change.
We were impressed by the clarity of the message and by how the debate can easily be shifted from whether global warming is manmade to how can a particular creative class, “the Zeronauts”, drive us to a more sustainable and secure world.
This book is meant to be a wake up call that encourages leaders to adopt the virtue of zero footprint as a management concept to help break the “sustainability barrier” by triggering a reimagining and a rethink that would lead the Zeronauts towards the discovery of leading processes and technologies.
As Rio+20 quickly approaches, the Colbert Report shed some light on global warming. According to NOAA measurements, in May, the carbon cycle reached a new alarming ‘milestone’: CO2 levels reached 400 parts per million in Arctic sites. This increase is in contrast to global averages of 390 ppm last year, and 280 ppm preceding the Industrial Age in 1880.
Colbert provides a satirical take on our latest benchmark by coining the skit: “Sink or Swim”. Here’s what Stephen Colbert had to say about it: “What does 400 parts per million mean? Air has two parts: the breathy one and the part that makes balloons go up.”
Watch more of Colbert’s take on global warming below.
This World Wildlife Fund eco ad by Saatchi & Saatchi, circa 2007, illustrates perfectly the correlation between saving paper and saving forests.
Big props to the Saatchi Copenhagen team: Simon Wooller, Cliff Kagawa Holm and Silas Jansson.
Happy World Oceans Day!
Covers 70% of the earth’s surface.
Provides 80% of the oxygen we breathe.
Stores 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere.
To read the latest study, visit: Oceans: The Secret to Mitigating Climate Change?
A recent study led by Dr. James Fourqurean of Florida International University, proposed that seagrass could be the oceans’ best-kept secret to mitigating global climate change. The study, “Seagrass Ecosystems as Globally Significant Carbon Stocks,” suggests that our coastal ecosystems can store equal or greater amounts of carbon than terrestrial ecosystems. Seagrass meadows can store up to twice as much carbon as the world’s forests.
However, according to Dr. James Fourqurean, seagrass meadows are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems. These coastal systems are being lost at an alarming rate. Approximately 2 percent of coastal systems are removed or degraded annually, which is four times the annual estimates of tropical forest loss.
While much attention has been placed on protecting terrestrial ecosystems such as the REDD program - United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Deregulation, the coastal ecosystems have not garnered as much awareness. No programs exist to protect a resource that currently stores as much as 73 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. Our oceans represent the largest active carbon sinks on Earth as they absorb over a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions. This research highlights the need for restoration of coastal systems to enable mangroves, seagrasses and tidal salt marshes to be restored and to continue to keep centuries of carbon in the ocean floor. We look forward to the expert opinions on the development of effective carbon management at Rio+20 later this month.
Image: Biological and Physical Pumps of Carbon Dioxide
The first Memorial Day took place on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC, after a group of African-Americans, mostly former slaves, gave 257 Union soldiers a proper burial. It was then called “Decoration Day”.
Historically, Geek Pride Day was declared on May 25, in observance of the 1977 movie release date of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, with close ties to BBC Radio broadcast, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
While Wikipedia provides a variety of definitions, the one chosen is as follows:
A geek is sometimes a person who has chosen concentration rather than conformity; one who passionately pursues skill (especially technical skill) and imagination, not mainstream social acceptance.