Eco Private Jets and Guidelines for Green Tech

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We’ve passed the final frontier for greenwashing! I was astonished recently as a friend pulled up the homepage of a company touting carbon offset “eco” private jets. I am not buying it. As much of a Google, Apple and renewable energy fan boy as I am, there is no reasonable argument for this, and there should be structured limits in how we think about green tech. Why? Because there is already an innovation that increases the efficiency of planes 100x and it is a simple one. Adding 99 more seats.

With estimates that air travel is responsible for 14% of greenhouse gas activity and the threat of catastrophic climate change looming, we cannot afford the luxury of (semi-mythical?) carbon offsets and need to take the obvious wins that stem from resource sharing. Of course, the benefits of public rail and telecommuting could be even greater.

This got me thinking about my own personal guidelines for thinking about clean tech, which yielded the list below.

  • Stress Natural Systems: My parents Prius is a huge improvement over their last car, but at the same time a human walking gets about 360 MPG and a bike gets 60 MPG. That is a full order of magnitude improvement, and humans are 100% biodegradable. When possible, use natural systems directly and practice biomimicry.
  • Less is Better: I was recently pricing new speakers for my Macbook Pro, looking especially at low-watt options because I live off grid. Of course, I already had a pair of nice Bose headphones and pretty good laptop speakers. By far, the most eco of my tech options: use those.
  • Share When Possible: At Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage where I live and work we pooled resources and bought an eco friendly commercial washer for the whole community. In most cities in the US, 40 people would have had at least 20 washers, even accounting for laundromats and multi-person families. Again, the power of clean tech can be leveraged a full order of magnitude by sharing.
  • Old Tech is Clean Tech: For many tech options, most of the eco costs are sunk into production, so one way we can have clean tech is to buy used, piece together old parts, upcycle, and take good care of the tech we have.

These four guidelines are a key part of how I think of clean tech, and working them consistently I feel much better about my used ipod touch. What guidelines do you use?

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Brian Toomey lives and works at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, is tech lead over at Sustanablog.org for their green tech store with Birkenstock Florida Sandals and 10k other eco products, as well as being a sustainable business consultant for outdoor equipment sellerAppoutdoors.com and eco garden fountain store fountainspirit.com.

Photo Credit: gnackgnackgnack


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