This upcoming Sunday, June 5th, is World Environment Day and the theme for this year is “Only One Earth” with a focus on “living sustainably in harmony with nature.”
Prioritizing sustainability is a key value at ZorroSign, and today we are going to give you some tips and tricks on how to incorporate sustainable practices in advance of World Environment Day!
Here are a few important facts about the water on our planet from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation:
97% of all water on the earth is salt water, which is not suitable for drinking.
Only 3% of water on Earth is fresh water, and only 0.5% is available for drinking.
The other 2.5% of fresh water is locked in ice caps, glaciers, the atmosphere, soil, or under the earth’s surface, or is too polluted for consumption.
So how does conserving water help with sustainability?
Reducing our water use/consumption reduces the energy required to process and deliver it to homes, businesses, and communities, which then helps to reduce your carbon footprint.
Grow Your Own Food
Consumers throw away $1600 of produce per year, and according to a study from the Council of Environmental Health about food additives and children’s health.
Growing your own food allows for alternative options for purchasing your food from a grocery store. Why is this significant? When you buy your food solely from grocery stores, you have to take into account that these foods sometimes travel thousands of miles before ever being consumed. This impacts not only the freshness and flavor of the food, but also adds carbon emissions and waste associated with air freight and other transportation methods into our atmosphere.
By growing your own food, you are taking a small step in helping reduce the high amounts of burning fossil fuels that are expelled into our environment as a result from importing foods from commercial farmers. You also are reducing waste from the food packaging materials such as man-made plastics and cardboard, that make the long supply-chain trip. And as an extra bonus, the food you grow will be fresher!
Growing food from your home is easier thank you think! Here are some great options for growing food from your kitchen or backyard:
Herbs (such as cilantro, basil, rosemary, oregano)
ZorroSign is committed to having a positive impact on the environment through sustainable practices. Switching from doing business using paper to digital is not only a smart business decision but it is also good for the environment.
However, each time you use ZorroSign to digitally transact instead of printing, faxing, scanning, and shipping documents to collect signatures, you save trees and water . . . plus reduce carbon emissions while your business saves time and money!
To further live a paperless life, ZorroSign encourages all businesses to go digital and save trees. Our Save a Tree – Plant a Tree program is ZorroSign’s effort to do our part to help the environment: For every 8,000 pages of paper you save by using ZorroSign, we plant a tree on your behalf—that’s saving an existing tree and planting a new tree by going paperless with ZorroSign’s multi-chain blockchain platform.
To learn more about ZorroSign’s commitment to sustainability and environment conservation, and how we deliver greater privacy and security for digital signatures and documents, contact us today or sign up for our free trial!
In an earlier article, I briefly introduced sustainability in advancing technology—specifically urging innovators to be aware of the impact of their new technologies on the environment and human sustainability.
In advance of Earth Day 2022, I reiterate that while it is easy to laud the potential of new technologies, we must also be wary of their effects on the environment . . . specifically the depletion of natural resources which may disrupt ecological balance. This is not to say innovation must be stymied, but that the true price of innovation must be measured in more than purely economic terms.
Defining Sustainability for Business
My quick definition of sustainability—from the Brundtland Report, drafted by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1987—is simply “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
Bigger picture, the idea of sustainability is “often broken down into three pillars: economic, environmental, and social—also known informally as profits, planet, and people.” For me, new technologies tend to span all three: Driven by economic goals, but often extracting environmental and social costs.
For example, it has been a long-running criticism of bitcoin that the proof-of-work data mining required to produce coins consumes an astonishing amount of electricity. With many public blockchains used for cryptocurrencies, mining coins requires complicated mathematical processing on high-end graphic processing units (GPUs), consuming energy both for calculation processing and cooling those GPUs down under heavy load.
“Scientists from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School recently built an interactive analysis tool to calculate the real energy cost of bitcoin cryptocurrency,” explains Caroline Delbert in Popular Mechanics. “Using their energy use model, the researchers found that bitcoin mining uses more energy each year (130.00 terawatt-hours [TWh]) than the entire country of Argentina (125.03 TWh).”
Another example might emphasize social sustainability. “Social sustainability is about identifying and managing business impacts, both positive and negative, on people,” notes UN Global Compact.
Recall how Facebook’s social network technologies were taken to task by The Social Dilemma—a documentary highlighting the dangerous impact of social networking, which represents a sustainability challenge to human societies.
The film shows that while social networks’ cost is not environmental per se, social media’s “design nurtures an addiction, manipulates people’s views, emotions, and behavior, and spreads conspiracy theories and disinformation . . . [plus an] effect on mental health (including the mental health of adolescents and rising teen suicide rates).” Such social costs put existing social media in direct conflict with sustainable practices.
Balancing Innovation and Sustainability
So how can innovators build and create without jeopardizing the “ability of future generations to meet their needs”?
Such effort requires vision beyond immediate solutions and an eye for real-world consequences . . . even those completely unintended or unexpected in the deployment and adoption of new technology.
“The Industrial Revolution brought forth extraordinary gains in financial prosperity. Between 1870 and 1910, per capita income in the United States rose almost 40 percent, and the value of manufacturing output increased sevenfold. Yet rapid industrialization left in its wake darkened noontime skies, noisy and unsafe machinery, and severely compromised living conditions,” write David Austin and Molly K. Macauley in a classic article from Brookings. “Technology is a double-edged sword—one capable both of doing and undoing damage to environmental quality.”
“Technology has the ability to significantly impact the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” says Jeff Fromm in a Forbes article on sustainability and innovation. “As well as improve work/life balance, enable commerce and so much more.”
Here, environmental technologies have a chance to remedy the historical efforts of Industrial Revolution technologies that brought pollution and ecological disruption, as well as massively depleting natural resources.
“We are currently living in a period of rapid change, where technological developments are revolutionizing the way we live, at the same time as leading us further into the depths of catastrophe in the form of climate change and resource scarcity,” adds a great piece by Edinburgh Sensors. “While the impact of technology on the environment has been highly negative, the concept of environmental technology could save our planet from the harm that has been done.”
Even those technologies that simply avert environmental damage, without perhaps directly rebuilding or restoring natural resources, can have a tremendously positive effect on sustainability.
Starting with this economic pillar, we constructed a blockchain platform unlike bitcoin and the proof-of-work cryptocurrency models, instead leveraging Hyperledger Fabric as a next-generation enterprise blockchain architecture with lower electricity costs and a smaller carbon footprint. Hyperledger Fabric is a next-generation enterprise blockchain architecture “with even lower electricity costs and attendant carbon footprints,” writes Michael Barnard in a CleanTechnica report.
Hyperledger Fabric’s architecture is so completely different from the mining and broadly distributed model of bitcoin, that the enterprise blockchain can operate faster with far, far lower energy consumption rates. This combination of speed and energy-efficiency made Hyperledger Fabric the sustainable choice to launch ZorroSign’s digital platform.
For the environmental pillar, ZorroSign’s vision includes a commitment to saving trees and having a positive impact on the environment through sustainable practices. With our Save-a-Tree, Plant-a-Tree program, ZorroSign plants a tree on behalf of our customers every time they save 8,000 pages of copy paper! As one tree produces roughly 8,000 pages of copy paper, this amounts to a double incentive: Reducing the destruction of trees via reduced paper use and increasing the number of trees as reward for reducing paper use. Again, our efforts aspire to realize significant environmental benefits such as conserving water, reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, and reducing deforestation.
At ZorroSign, we use blockchain to help individuals, businesses, and governments to achieve a paperless life. Here we embrace the social pillar: Understanding that switching to digital records is not only a smart business decision, but it is also good for the environment and society.
Every time someone uses ZorroSign to digitally sign agreements, contracts, and other documents—instead of printing, faxing, scanning, and couriering documents to collect signatures—we all save trees, save water, and reduce carbon emissions. By moving social costs from paper consumption, logistics, and storage to digital signatures, digital archiving, and digital chains-of-custody, we advance a technology that similarly advances sustainability.