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What Is Eco Friendly

Writing about a solar biochar kiln left me thinking a lot about how to define “eco friendly”. I’ve also been thinking about it in relation to some news a friend pointed me at: “canvas bags are worse than plastic bags”. Poor Tim Minchin.

(I should note: I didn’t read all of those articles in full, most of them I skimmed. I know, I know, I know – I’m part of the problem. They also mostly cite the same couple of studies. I might try to write more about that later…)

A couple of those articles touch on this, but I think it’s worth exploring on its own: there are different kinds of “eco friendly”. There are different ways that we’re at risk of seriously changing the ecology of our planet. Also, we’ve realized different ways we might significantly change our environment at different times, so an intervention targeted at one thing (like plastic pollution) may turn out to worsen another (like ozone depletion).

It’s a very complex system, and I suspect almost every intervention will have some trade-offs, but most of the time I read about these things people seem to feel the need to end with a strong declaration of “this is good” or “this is bad”. It’s hard to hold in our heads these complex systems of effects/trade-offs.

Different interventions can also interact with each other. There was a Scientific American article a few years back that I can’t seem to find that looked at the interactions between different climate and water related projects, showing how some would reinforce each other and others might be mutually exclusive.

Anyway, a non-exhaustive list of things to consider when thinking about “eco-friendly”:

I’ve got more to write here, and some editing to do, but it felt worth putting up what I’ve got so far.

Last modified: 2022-08-02 06:23:49 -0400 -0400 • For full version history, see github
Tags: words climate-change incomplete