We’re not going to sit here and pretend that tech is going to save the planet because, let’s face it, it’s unlikely. However, last week we wrote a post all about our favourite startups doing great things in the world and focusing on the positive gave us a warm happy feeling in our tummies for at least 24 hours.
So, we thought we’d carry on with that theme and write about a few of the ways tech is actually helping the planet. We hope you enjoy it!
In the past, DVDs and CDs would be wrapped in plastic, paperback books lined our shelves and we couldn’t venture out of our hometowns without an ordinance survey map crammed into our pockets (OK, maybe that last one was just me).
The digital revolution has dramatically cut the amount of paper and plastic used in our day to day lives. Sure, we’ve still got a long way to go in terms of plastic bottles, shopping bags and general waste, but we’re certainly on the right track. Gone are the Saturday morning trips to HMV to grab the latest Take That album (again, just me?), we now have unlimited access to entire databases of music, movies, maps and books, often for just a fraction of the cost. The best part is, we can access it all without leaving the house, which not only stops up using cars or public transport so much, it also ensures we don’t have to speak to anyone. It’s a win, win.
Surveillance technology is being used to monitor both land and animals, ensuring environmental laws are being obeyed while also helping to prevent poaching. Drones are able to collect a huge amount of data in a short space of time – monitoring and analysing the wind, temperature, humidity and air pressure.
And the good doesn’t stop there. Drones are also being used to help those struggling in third world countries in the wake of natural disasters or famine. The technology gathers information over a widespread area, assesses the damage and relays information on where to send appropriate resources. In 2016, drones were used to deliver medical supplies to hospitals in Rwanda, and we expect this use of technology to become more widespread over the coming years.
The Sharing Economy
From bedrooms, to cars, to office space, the sharing economy is revolutionising the way we spend and this ‘collaborative consumption’ is becoming an essential part of our day to day lives.
But this new economy does more than just save us money and time. It can also do wonders in helping the environment while also benefitting the local economy. Websites such as Liftshare enable travellers to share cars with people who are heading in the same direction – shrinking 5 potential journeys into just one.
And with the rise of Air BnB, less tourists are staying in huge hotel chains, helping to save water and support the locals. Through choosing cheaper accommodation options or house shares, tourists have more money to spend in local restaurants, bars and on local tours – ensuring money is put back into the country, and not in to the pocket of the wealthy hotel owners overseas.
Connected homes are also helping to fight climate change, while saving valuable pennies in the long run. Smart thermostats and motion-activated lights are getting more and more common, meaning we only use power when it’s actually necessary – a far cry from returning home from work and discovering you left the lights on all day. Dishwashers can decide the best time to run, and other household utilities can reduce power usage during peak times.
In a world so divided on the impact of technology, we love to look at some of the positive effects it can have on our planet. While our increasingly connected world may create a set of issues we did not have in the past – it is, as always, essential to look at the wider picture.