Through the last couple of decades, we’ve witnessed important technological advances that have made our lives easier in many ways. Technology has helped in the medical field, in the construction sector, and many other industries. It made it possible to solve problems that in another era would’ve been unimaginable.
Today, we live in a world in which all types of industries, companies, and businesses have the responsibility to address environmental issues. Everyone has to reduce their impact on the planet, and the technological field is not the exception. Now environmental engineers, scientists, and researchers are taking advantage of technology to help the environment. This way we can keep on living our lives as comfortably as we’re used to and save the environment in the process.
While it’s true that there are technological innovations that seem to harm the environment, there are also many other advancements that, if we use wisely, can have the opposite effect. There are many factors involved in saving the environment, and technology, being one of those, plays a very important role. It’s helping to provide environmentally-friendly solutions.
Technology can help the environment in different ways and through different industries. Below are 7 ways in which technology can help the environment. With them, we’re fighting to give back a little of what we’ve taken from the planet.
1. Development of Renewable Energy
Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the main causes of global warming. Most of the non-renewable energy sources that we use come with large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases that harm the atmosphere. So, it’s a must to find new ways to generate clean energy and with technology, it’s more possible every day. Some of the most important eco-friendly technological advances are made in the clean energy sector.
The main factors involved in the generation of renewable energies are storage, energy grids, and electricity generation. The first one involves new storage solutions that provide improved fuel cells and upgraded sustainable batteries, for example. Energy grids are still in a development stage, but with the advancement in technology, we’ll be able to see distributed grids and energy networks based on flexible infrastructures, very soon. The most popular source to generate sustainable electricity is the sun. We have access to solar panels or solar glass for our homes. In the same way, sustainable electricity can be generated from different renewable sources like the wind or the tides. These two, along with the sun, offer cleaner power sources.
Technology can help the environment enormously in this sector with all its latest improvements. Many of the previously mentioned renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper and easier to implement in our daily lives. We see more LEED-certified buildings and people putting solar panels at home to address and minimize the impact of the environmental issues that we all are facing.
2. Electric Cars
Electric cars and hybrid vehicles have popularized over the past years. These vehicles have become a more sustainable commuting option as they don’t rely on combustion engines. Instead, they use rechargeable batteries to run, thus reducing their emissions. To maximize the environmental benefits of electric cars, renewable sources of energy have been implemented as well.
Technological innovations in this field are making electric cars more reliable. Their production processes are becoming less expensive and more sustainable, even if today they aren’t yet as environmentally friendly as they should be. With these technological advances, prices have dropped significantly, and are expected to keep on dropping, making them more affordable for everyone.
To promote the use of electric cars, many governments worldwide introduced a policy known as the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI). This policy encourages users to adopt the use of electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in each country. It’s expected that the electric vehicle market will grow faster and more countries will adopt this initiative to encourage the use of eco-friendly cars.
3. Environmentally Friendly Homes
Another way that technology can help the environment is by encouraging people to build smart and sustainable houses. Our home is one of the places that consume the most energy. We extensively consume energy to have good lighting, to charge our phones, in cooking, while watching a movie or taking a hot bath, during laundry cycles, etc., thus consuming a large amount of it all day long. Technology has given us different gadgets and devices to reduce our energy usage and power our lives in a way that reduces the effect on the environment.
Sensors, smart meters, solar panels, recycling systems, and other devices are helping us save energy and reduce our daily wastes. We can implement them in our houses and turn them into smart homes to reduce our carbon footprint.
The same applies to workspaces. Companies of all sizes look for buildings and office settings that have eco-friendly technology. With it, they can make a change in their community and create awareness in their workforce.
4. Environmental Monitoring
New technology innovations are also being used to ensure that all environmental laws and regulations are been followed. In restricted or protected areas, the governments are using drones to guard the places. They can work as security cameras covering longer distances to control illegal hunting or deforestation. Drones can also track these areas for natural disasters.
We can also see technological devices and sensors are now used to monitor air quality. These monitoring devices and sensors can be implemented in various ways, for example, adding sensors to existing infrastructure, or on a mobile source like a car or a bike, etc. These sensors can be paired with mobile phones so that the level of exposure can be monitored and an alert can be sent to the residents.
There are also environmental simulation tests to make sure that different products and services comply with all the environmental standards before they hit the market. With these tests, engineers and designers have the responsibility to constantly upgrade their products to meet quality and environmental regulations.
5. Sharing Economy
Technology can help the environment in different ways, even using the internet and certain apps in your smartphone can make a change. With the new recently developed concept known as “The Sharing Economy”, we’re all reducing our negative impact on the planet every day. The sharing economy started when companies like Lyft, Uber, Airbnb, Waze Carpool, or Olio were born. With them, we purchase less and we use fewer resources because we’re now able to share them with other people. This new way of living benefits not only the environment but our pockets as well.
With Lyft, Waze Carpool, or Uber, people can share their rides to work, giving them some other personal benefits as well. Now they don’t have to drive and stress over traffic, they can leave their car keys at home, and make their commute much more productive. There are even discounts and offers that make the use of these types of apps much more appealing to the users.
With Airbnb, homeowners can make a profit out of spaces they’re not using and travelers can save money by staying there. These places tend to be much more affordable than a hotel room, therefore benefiting both parties involved. Plus, this app allows travelers to have whole new experiences.
On the other hand, apps like Olio are reducing food waste at home. It allows people to offer and give away food and other things that they don’t need or plan to throw out. Besides reducing general home waste, this app makes people conscious of the negative impact that actions like throwing out food or old clothes can have. It encourages users to change consumption habits for a healthier lifestyle.
6. Reduce Deforestation
Paper has been massively consumed for years, having an extremely negative impact on the environment. It’s consumption damages the planet throughout all its supply chain. From the moment that the trees are cut down to the moment paper gets to the stores, we’re damaging the environment. Paper production involves deforestation, uses large amounts of water, and it generates gas emissions in different stages of the production process. Sadly, in the end, most of it becomes trash. It’s one of the main worldwide wastes and a concern for the environment.
More businesses going digital every day, using the internet, computers, and smartphones to do their jobs and storing information in the cloud. This is making paper forms, airmails, note pads, receipts, and copies obsolete. It’s been proven that every year, paper usage is reducing remarkably.
This new paperless way of communication has helped reduce the need to cut down trees for paper production. Forests are more protected and there are new regulations regarding deforestation. Now wildlife isn’t affected by this human activity as much as it was before. On the other hand, the use of cargo ships and planes that transport paper has reduced as well, thus reducing the gas emissions caused by this industry.
7. Sustainable Materials
Plastic waste has been an issue for the past decades. Technology can help the environment by making it possible to develop new alternate and eco-friendly materials. Some of the currently available materials are made from recycled plastic, natural fibers, or plants that not only offer a solution to plastic, but they’re also made through eco-friendly processes. With them, the use of plastic is reducing significantly.
These materials are still not the most commercial options and haven’t been 100% implemented. Constant investigations and research are going on around them. With technology, they’re being upgraded and improved so that in the future they can eventually be as easy to use as plastic.
As you can see, there are many ways in which technology can help the environment. Innovations and advancements are made day by day, thinking about making a better future for the planet and humanity.