Action 231: Slow your roll

Need for speedDate: 19 August
Action: 231
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ LOW


From our guest writer Divya Hari in Singapore

Taking life at a slower pace can be good for the planet AND good for your health

Our obsession with speed and wanting everything faster has its implications for our environment and in turn for ourselves. It’s time to slow a few things down.

Speedy deliveries

Isn’t it amazing to have our items delivered in one day … same day … within an hour?

Lightening fast deliveries can feel marvellous and convenient but if we become aware of the real consequences it isn’t quite such a stellar experience after all.

Faster deliveries lead to inefficiencies; delivery trucks will likely be less full, drivers will drive faster wasting energy, and pressures affect supply chain staff welfare since they are under so much pressure. Did you know … drivers can be so pressed for time that it is not uncommon to find them using empty Coke bottles to urinate in!

So by all means shop online – but choose regular shipping whenever you can.

We demand faster food 

… and have caused the proliferation of Genetically Modified (GM) foods, heavily processed foods laden with additives and chemicals, fast food chains, animals raised with hormones, and antibiotics that undermines our health and also negatively impact our environment.

Even if hormones in food have been claimed or shown not to affect humans, they are also poor from an animal welfare perspective; For example, did you know that there is a higher chance of, for instance, a cow suffering from mastitis from increased milk production stimulated by additional hormones?

We travel fast

As much as I respect and admire our Greta Thunberg who avoided air travel in November 2019 due to its greater CO2 emissions, and chose to sail across the Atlantic instead, it may not be practical for most of us to do so. Nevertheless we can slow down in many situations.

Passenger aircraft and even faster fuel-guzzling cars create unnecessary CO2 emissions.

Faster travel burns significantly more fuel.

However, as far as air travel is concerned, we have a couple of options … even if we cannot afford the time to sail across an ocean!

Work related air travel : AVOID if possible; instead video-conference using Skype, Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet

Leisure air travel : Take FEWER but LONGER vacations or MINIMIZE Air travel by choosing “staycations” nearer to home which are drivable or can be reached by train

We can minimize carbon emissions from our cars by using public transportation, walking or cycling whenever possible, or using a carpool (car sharing scheme). But we can also help by taking life more slowly, by driving a smaller, fuel-efficient, hybrid or electrical vehicle. Did you know too that if we used the most fuel-efficient cars we could reduce other pollution and smog by at least 50%!

Other ways to use our cars more efficiently include:

  • Avoid speeding and unnecessary acceleration
  • Avoid traffic using traffic apps such as Google Maps or Waze; being stuck in traffic wastes gas and unnecessarily creates CO2
  • Service the car regularly to keep engine tuned
  • Improve mileage with properly inflated tires. Properly inflated tires improve gas mileage by up to 3%.
  • Use the correct grade of motor oil
  • Combine errands; avoid multiple trips to stores.

We COVET faster phones and technology

As technology advance, from the very first wireless 1G cell phones, to 2G text messaging phones, to 3G phones with video calling and online capabilities, to 4G with faster speeds, and now even faster 5G … and 6G under development, we all want faster phones.

Compounded by their short life cycle, smartphones create enormous amounts of hazardous e-waste and have a high carbon footprint.

In 2019, 53 million metric tons of e-waste was discarded and about 65% of that was not recycled (Callie Babbitt and Shahana Althaf, The Conversation)

Lead and mercury from unrecycled e-waste ends up in our water.

The energy intensive mining of the rare materials needed to build a new smartphone, accounts for at least 85% of the device’s total CO2 emissions for its lifetime of two years. Smartphones are categorized as disposable items, considering their average life cycle of two years. However, most phones will last well beyond 4 or 5 years. Considering the health of our planet, ideally, Smartphones should be replaced only when they are truly beyond repair. Then, they should be dropped off at a reputable e-waste recycling centre.

(We wrote about phones a while ago here too … Ed)

Read more

You can learn more about how our “need” for everything faster is affecting our planet at these three links:

Take action

Be aware of the environmental cost of “fast”, and try and slow down a few things in your life. Consume a little less a little slower, and enjoy things more when you do so. Taking a little bit of pace off our frenetic consumerism-driven lives can also help us relax more, which is better for our mental health and general wellbeing.

We don’t often really need things the second we think of them after all!

This article has been contributed by Divya Hari in Singapore
Follow Divya on Twitter at @IvyKriss