By Georgia Carter
Electricity pulsates through the veins of our city, entombed below our streets and electrifying our planet’s health.
Electricity made from fossil fuels like coal is among the most harmful means of pollution and one of the leading causes of climate change. To shift this harrowing direction, we need to be more mindful of how we use electricity - or, more importantly, how we can use less.
Electricity pillars line the landscape as they pump power into homes from miles away.
Matthew Henry, Unsplash
What is electricity?
The most common source of electricity is made using coal. Coal is mined, a destructive activity to both the earth and animals, and then ground down into a fine powder. It is then boiled down and burned at a high temperature, producing tons of air pollution. The heat and gasses derived from this process are further turned into steam that passes through a turbine with thousands of blades. A generator connected to one of these turbines contains a coil that manifests a strong magnetic field when rotated, giving us electricity.
A power station pollutes the air and natural surroundings while producing electricity.
Roya Ann Miller, Unsplash
The final product is sent on a long journey through electrical circuits, ending up in our homes.
However, the burning of these fossil fuels released an incomprehensible amount of carbon dioxide into an already fragile atmosphere. Every. Single. Day. In fact, in 2019, the human world used over 13.9 billion tons of oil to generate electricity. And it’s only getting worse as the population continues to increase.
Watching the world light up from space - the amount of electricity we use is incomprehensible.
Other forms of electricity production - The sustainable solutions
Solar is the most commonly understood and used form of sustainable energy. Through photovoltaic solar panels, the sun rays are converted into energy and emit readily usable electricity. The power supply comes from an inexhaustible energy source - the sun. While this is far better than the notorious fossil fuel coal, crafting and installing solar panels is still harmful to the environment.
Solar panels soak up the sun’s rays and convert them into usable energy.
Thomas Coker, Unsplash
Harnessing wind for power is a centuries-old technique. However, with the rise of technology and science, we’re now able to better collect and utilise the wind for electricity. Mammoth, triple-bladed turbines face the wind, capture it, and turn the kinetic energy into electrical power. Today, wind power is the fastest-growing source of energy in the world. But in the same breath, the turbines are still turbulent to the planet while also hampering many birds’ migratory paths. Sometimes, it’s simply a choice between the lesser evil if we want to produce a more sustainable future.
Wind turbines pepper the planet to produce wind-powered electricity.
Jason Blackeye, Unsplash
Finally, there is hydroelectric power which relies on water. When flowing and cascading water moves through turbines connected to an electric generator, the turbines’ acceleration produces energy. Water used for this form of energy can be found either from artificial dams or natural rivers and ocean waves. But everything has its setbacks, and for hydropower, the use of dam infrastructure can cause harm to the surrounding fauna and flora.
One of the most sustainable forms of energy is hydropower - the use of free-flowing water.
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15 ways to save electricity and money at home
As we’ve read, electricity has become essential to our daily lives but detrimental to the environment. While changing the source of energy is the main way we can mitigate the negative effects, there are some small changes we can all make that will help us save electricity - and money.
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1) Set your electric geyser to 55 ° C to 60 ° C.
2) Switch off all lights when not needed. Assess what lighting you need for the action you are performing.
3) Switch out your high-voltage light bulbs for eco-friendly and energy-efficient bulbs. For example, one 100 watt bulb produces the same light as two 60 watt bulbs, so it’s more sustainable to go for the 100 watts light bulb.
4) If you have an oil heater, why not change it for an infrared heater? It saves more energy, time, and money. Or, better yet, bring out a warm and comfy blanket and opt away from using a heater altogether.
5) Dishwashers save more water than hand washing but use electricity. When using your dishwasher, only turn it on when it’s jam-packed with dishes. Try turning the dishwasher off before it attempts to dry the dishes - you can leave them to drip dry or dry them manually.
6) When using an electric stove, match your pots to the stove plates. For example, a small pot only needs a small plate to heat up.
7) Switch off your stove and oven before you’re finished cooking. The remaining heat should continue cooking your food while saving electricity.
8) If you need to defrost food, leave it in the fridge overnight rather than defrosting it in the microwave.
9) Always opt for a hand-operated appliance rather than an electrical-operated one.
10) Do not fill your kettle to the brim when only requiring a cup or two of hot water.
11) Take shorter showers and fewer baths.
12) Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or washing your face and hands.
13) Unplug all unused electronics. It’s not enough to simply turn off the switch. Having your appliances still physically plugged in means there is still electricity pulsating through.
14) Hang your dry laundry instead of using a tumble dryer.
15) Open your window instead of using a fan. While the wind may not be blowing in your favour, you won’t suffer due to not having your fan on.
Green technology solutions are no longer new concepts. In fact, many companies and households already use green tech products. However, only a few per cent of the world uses these technologies, making its impact lower. People should start to use green tech solutions today to make a significant change in the future. Among these green tech solutions, here are some that more people worldwide should be using, from electric scooters to urban vertical farming.
Cars, buses, and other fuel-powered vehicles have long contributed to the issue of greenhouse gas and global warming. In fact, transportation accounts for a fifth of the world’s carbon emissions. However, electric vehicles aim to resolve this by reducing harmful emissions and slowly cleaning the air in the long run. An example of a popular electric vehicle is electric scooter technology which is gaining attention because of its convenience and accessibility. However, are electric scooters eco-friendly? How do electric vehicles help the environment?
Since electric vehicles don’t need fuel, it does not emit any harmful gases, reducing carbon emissions present in the air. Moreover, most electric vehicles are manufactured through eco-friendly processes and materials. This further reduces the product’s environmental impact for its lifecycle. For example, the electric car Nissan Leaf is partly made of old car parts, plastic bags, and water bottles. Owners with electric vehicles can also reduce their impact by charging their vehicles using renewable energy such as solar and wind power.
Adopting more electric vehicles, like eco electric scooters, will move global transportation into a more sustainable future.
Many companies, especially huge tech brands, are moving files and data from paper to cloud. Cloud-based storage solutions are an increasingly popular green tech solution because of its space and cost-saving benefits. It eliminates the need to use more equipment in the office, reducing energy consumption as well. In fact, a report says that using more cloud storage and processes could reduce electricity consumption by 25 to 45%.
Investing in cloud storage solutions and processes also make it easier for people to share information. It promotes the idea of paperless offices, reducing paper waste and the need to cut down trees. Moreover, it supports remote work, reducing the need to commute every day to work and carbon emissions from vehicles.
Lastly, eliminating hardware reduces the opportunity for computer parts to end up in landfills. In the US, only 27% of the 2 million tons of e-waste could be recycled. This leaves a significant amount of computer parts that could pollute the land and sea.
If most businesses move their data and processes to the cloud, small to large businesses can reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions. Altogether, this leaves a huge positive impact on the environment.
Green energy sources
Although many countries are shifting toward renewable sources of energy, 84% of the world still primarily use fossil fuels according to a 2019 study. People have used fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, it has caused large amounts of greenhouse gases and air pollution. These byproducts not only harm the environment but also pose health problems for people.
To reduce harmful emissions and impacts on the environment, renewable energy will be a key player. These energies include:
People should rapidly change into these energy sources before it’s too late.
Vertical farming promotes the idea of growing plants or produce in layers stacked vertically. It offers farmers and city dwellers sustainable farming in limited space. One of its greatest benefits is that it uses 90% less water because of its hydroponic growing process. As a result, it also needs fewer nutrients and fertilisers. Moreover, the used water can be recycled or reused since it’s clean. This further minimises waste and reduces the cost of farming.
Aside from this, it reduces the need for tractors or farming equipment, which likely use fossil fuels to run. As a result, it helps reduce harmful emissions that come from traditional farming methods. Moreover, it helps conserve biodiversity since there’s no need to convert acres of land for farming.
For city dwellers, vertical farming enables people living in apartments to grow their own produce indoors or on balconies. Having more plants in cities can help convert carbon emissions from vehicles into clean air. In fact, some biomimicry designs include vertical gardens into its design such as Singapores Gardens by the Bay.
Shift to a green future
While these green tech solutions help reduce waste and pollution, this is not enough. People also need to reduce plastic use and lessen their energy consumption from fossil fuels to reduce our environmental impact. Although green solutions are generally expensive, people should realise that these technologies are an investment in their own life and the future generations’. From recycling to using eco-friendly electric scooters, let’s do our part to save the environment.