My personal environmental footprint

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It’s a trend in corporations (at least those outside the extraction industries) to do a self analysis on your environmental effects. I wanted to think deeply about mine.

I recently mailed a mercury thermometer to a friend where she has a safe disposal facility; I don’t and I didn’t want to throw it in the trash given all of the toxic effects of mercury.

Good

  • Don’t eat much meat.
  • Use public transit primarily. Easy to do in Manhattan.
  • Walk a lot. Pretty much a requirement in Manhattan.
  • Live in a densely populated area.
  • Recycle a lot.
  • Try to use a reusable water bottle as much as possible.
  • Combine shopping trips (in rare cases I’m buying in store and have to drive).
  • Use Alexa to turn off lights and control temperatures in other rooms.
  • Limit printing. When possible, I use mobile boarding passes for flights or mobile tickets for events. When not possible, I print on the backside of something else.
  • Use a duplex printer.
  • Reuse backside of paper.
  • Don’t read newspapers in print. That’s a lot of paper that is 1) cut down from trees 2) heavily processed with chemicals 3) big rolls are transported cross country 4) completed product is printed and then transported across town 5) read (or unread) papers that are then transported for disposal.
  • Use Nespresso capsules.

Bad

  • Use the AC (mitigated by using Nest to reduce energy consumption).
  • Fly a lot. A lot of it is work related, but there are still plenty of personal trips.
  • Buy too many electronics. I’ve really cut back here for two reasons: there is so much electronics waste (much of it with heavy metals) and so much of what is made today is utter garbage.
  • Prefer triple ply.
  • Still get paper statements for everything. The banks and credit card companies all use different logins and have different processes and restrictions. It’s just a lot easier to go to the mailbox. If there were a way to get the statements sent to my Gmail and made it just as easy as going to my mailbox, I’d do it in a heartbeat. The security concerns that used to exist for this don’t exist anymore, but no one seems to be working on it.
  • Use a lot of napkins (Indian food is messy).
  • Drink too much canned soda.
  • Drink Mexican Coke. Real sugar in a glass bottle versus high-fructose corn syrup is SO much better.
  • Don’t unplug chargers, printers and other low power devices. These things consumer energy, but the amount is so tiny that it’s not worth it for me.

Of course not all of these things are equal. The heaviest consumers of energy are transportation, lighting and climate control. But the primary cause of climate change is cattle raised for beef.

What am I missing?

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About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. His personal blog is at http://blog.agrawals.org and tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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