With all the negativity surrounding climate change (for good reason, of course — but it just gets so depressing), I loved discovering Handprinter.org, an app that focuses not only on one’s individual carbon footprint but on the handprint: i.e., all the good a person can do for the planet, while offsetting his or her own impact.
Handprinter has the following goals, as outlined on its website:
“First, it lets you calculate your environmental footprint. You enter in some simple data about things like what you eat, how often you travel, and what kind of products you buy, and Handprinter shows you your environmental impact.
Second, it offers suggestions for simple actions you can take to lower your impact on the planet – things like installing a low-flow showerhead, or carpooling to work or school. You can choose actions from our database, or come up with your own actions and add them to the collection.
And best of all, Handprinter lets you spread your ideas and actions around the world, see their progress, and measure them. When you refer your friends to Handprinter, and when their friends sign on, their handprints become part of yours. Inspire enough people, and your handprint eventually outweighs your footprint.
And with enough handprints, we can heal the planet.”
It was fun to try it out, and I’d encourage everyone to check it out, at the very least for awareness of your consumption as well as the very simple and effective things you can do for the planet.
Evidently I have a carbon footprint of 21.2 tons (the app asks for very few details, such as square footage of living space and number of flights you take per year — but I imagine this list will grow). Next I calculated my handprint, which is 32.8 tons, apparently indicating that I live greenly enough to offset my carbon footprint (the site tells me: “When your handprint outweighs your footprint, you go from having a negative impact on the planet to a net-positive one”).
The handprint section is much more detailed than the footprint, including items such as home insulation, light bulbs, type of car, as well as whether you bike to work, buy local, eat few animal products, and more. There are still a few items (clothing, services) that don’t offer any actions, but because the app is still in beta, these may be still to come.
What may be best about Handprinter is its positivity in a time of gloom; its focus on what we can all do, and how it can all add up for the greater good, is vital in an era when every little action counts. So check out Handprinter.org and share it as widely as you can — it’s fun, and it gets us all thinking how we need to if we’re going to heal the planet.