Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monkey on ST Digital Life

"Enjoy Tech the Eco Way"
Be a techie and still save the earth; THAM YUEN-C gets tips from two greenies
Straits Times Digital Life
20 Aug 08

Read the full article here.

A few days ago, Ria emailed me saying that Digital Life is interested in doing an article about how to be "green" with tech-related lifestyle. I thought that apart from talking about the usual "save electricity, reduce carbon footprint" spiel, I can talk more about what we have been using technology for in terms of "eco social media". I just want to clarify that my quote was edited and "advocating conservation and environmentalism" can be fun too! Here are some fun things that didn't manage to get fitted into the tiny newspaper column!

1. Reduce your carbon footprint
Well the most basic of being "green" is to reduce your carbon footprint. That's the buzzword in this globalized world these days. How can we do that? Switch off your gadgets, blah blah blah. But how about less gadget upgrading? It just wasn't possible to include this in press as all their advertisers would be quite upset. Honestly I've resisted upgrading my phone for the last 5 years. And trust me, it takes a lot of effort! Resist resist. resist the iphone. resist a pda phone. resisted the nokia n-series with GPS! It's not easy but it's healthier. When they say I have a long list of gadgets, I meant I travel with all of those (except PC) perpetually. Not forgetting peripherals! How do I make sure I don't die from overexposure to electromagnetic frequencies?

2. Get away from your computer more often!
Go out and be with nature more. If you have followed my "lights out" project, I really tried doing that. Lights out is not just about switching things off but reacquainting yourself with life away from gadgets. I don't sit in the dark. I go out and be with nature, be with family, friends and people instead of sitting in the dark! Savor the sweet scent of tembusu as it blooms in the dark. Listen to the hooting of the resident owl beside my office. Chat with friends! Read a book at a library. You get the idea! Very fun one. Confirm, guarantee plus chop!

3. Offset your carbon footprint.

If you cannot reduce your carbon footprint, offset with something more meaningful! I've mentioned this in the article but the idea is that since you are using the gadgets already, use it for something meaningful that will help to do something that will offset the gadget's consumption footprint! There are of course so many ways to do it. :) But please don't just try to buy your way out of this. I think there are many more meaningful and actual tangible ways we can do it. Sometimes we do it without even knowing. For example, by clicking or passing on a message in facebook re: environment, like telling your friend about the I want to go Cyrene Reef facebook group, you are doing something indirectly for the environment!

4. Be self-reflexive!
Interestingly, in a recent AAG Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group mailing list, an academic pointed out to the group that if all of us are studying about environmental issues, what are we doing ourselves to offset or reduce the carbon footprint of our own research's travel? We jet around the world to do fieldwork but think of the fuel consumption! It's really important to be reflexive and it was just great to hear that from professors :)

5. Make the most of what you have!
If you read the full article, Hang Chong said something really true too. With gadgets comprising of more tools these days, you can have a universal machine that does everything. But as long as something works, it's good enough too! I constantly catch myself saying to others, "can use can liao lah!". For example, I have a very old nokia phone that doesn't even have a built in camera! But it has GPRS and I can surf twitter on it! I bring my laptop almost everywhere and can use it to skype and call people even when I forgot to bring my phone! Yes it's heavy but one laptop means less gadgets!

6. Embrace the concept of Sharing.

Recently I am in need of a 3G phone to use in Japan when I visit in September. But instead of succumbing to the temptation of buying a new iphone, I decided to crowdsource for a phone to borrow. I posted on twitter and facebook asking if anybody has a spare 3G phone to lend me and voila! Reply within the day. This is great! Playing with gadgets without increasing the footprint. Sharing also includes ride-sharing, carpooling, etc. And the good part? You get to make more friends and appreciate your existing friends more :)

7. Engage your friends!
I must say that I really have a lot of friend "advocating conservation and environmentalism. The so-called "spending a lot of my time online is for spreading the message" include, for example, writing this blog post! Or posting a link on facebook, or chatting with people about it! Actually devising ways to "harness" social media for environment is challenging and fun. But the best is really engaging people. Starting conversations and getting discussions going on twitter when I saw otters was more fun than just the satisfaction of knowing the "message was passed". I enjoy reading the replies from twitter followers whenever I talk about what green things I have (or have not!) been doing.

Remember, it's not just about the environment. It's really about the people.


c-eagle said...

Good ideas. I wonder why no one stated that a solar charger (which has a battery to store energy)that can charge a handphone can be bought in Singapore approximately $40 - $70. I do not mean the useless ones (that charge for only 1 - 2minute) that are sometimes on auction or given as door gifts.
While it takes time to charge up, at least, I can use it to charge mine once or twice a week. It helps keep the mp4 battery charged too.

Monkey said...

wow thanks for sharing! i didn't know that's available in singapore or at all ;) where can one buy that in singapore?

c-eagle said...

Not many people know about this in Singapore. I saw in the classifieds in May. Advert said $40, I tink, but when I went there, the better one was $79. So I got the more ex one. 1 gripe, if U r using the new nokia with the small plug round plug, the wire supplied is not reliable. Best to get the adaptor that downsizes from the larger nokia round plug to the small round plug and use with the wire provided. Else many shops sell the usb wire.
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