Eco-friendly innovations on and offline

After listening to 36 intriguing Face-to-face Friday presentations this morning, I began thinking about technological innovations that are already taking place today—many of them widespread. As a double major in journalism and environmental studies during my undergraduate experience, I was intrigued at a social network that I recently came across on www.mashable.com. The social network is called Zimride, and it is a carpool community that CEO Logan Green describes on the site as a community that “empowers [users] to create social, sustainable and convenient transportation.” Green, who has served as a sustainability coordinator at the University of California in Santa Barbara, found a way to take advantage of Web development in order to fill empty seats in cars, thereby reducing carbon emissions and enabling users to make connections on their own terms.
According to a New York Times article posted online in July, Zimride tracks the total mileage recorded by each college campus on its client list, thereby giving the users and site creators an idea about how much they are saving by carpooling. In the same article, co-founder John Zimmer explained that at Cornell, “more than 1 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions have been averted through 4,000 one-time trips, at an average 200 miles per trip, over the past year and a half.” As this Web site gains momentum, so could a much larger environmental campaign to conserve energy.

There are many other successful eco-innovations of the 21st century, now being made possible through technological improvements. An article on www.ecoble.com gives a nice overview of some of the latest creations. Solar-powered LEDs, converting animal waste to energy and dissolvable clothing are among some of the top 15 eco-friendly innovations listed in the article. Solar-powered LEDs are often used in gardens, but uses have been expanded to include solar powered streetlights and even solar-powered Ferris wheels at carnivals. New solar-powered gadgets are also becoming available, such as a six-way charger that is compatible with iPods, cell phones, Bluetooth and other headsets.

While convenience through technology is one factor that should be a focus in the future, it is also going to be crucial to take advantage of these innovations through whatever means necessary to insure a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle. In May, Zimride was approved as a Facebook Verified Application, thereby expanding their consumer base and bringing more attention to the Web site. The Zimride team also has a Twitter account that allows users to check in on the latest updates regarding the network.

The full New York Times article can be accessed here: http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/07/29/29greenwire-startup-bets-that-social-networking-will-spur-36381.html

Read more about eco-innovations of the 21st century here: http://ecoble.com/2009/01/04/top-15-eco-innovations-of-the-21st-century/

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