A New York Times headline recently read “With Carbon Dioxide emissions at Record High, Worries on How to Slow Warming.”
We’ve all heard about our carbon footprints, the sum total of all the carbon dioxide released as we go through a day: driving, making meals, heating our houses and workplace, washing our clothes and dishes, and on and on. The global impact of all such human activity, we’re told, endangers our future as a species.
If you start tracking your carbon footprint, the data can be downright depressing. When Gregory Norris, the industrial ecologist who invented Handprinter, has his students at the Harvard School of Public Health measure their footprint, many tell him, “The planet would be better off if I never had been born.”
Instead of tracking all the bad news about our carbon footprint, Handprinter puts a positive spin on our environmental impacts, tracking all the good we do. With Handprinter you measure every action you take that lowers your carbon footprint, and keep growing that number.
If you can get friends to do what you’ve done, you get credits for that, too. A school, store, company, or family can track their handprint – and compete to make theirs the biggest.
Handprints can make us feel good about what we’re doing, and encourage us to do more to lower our carbon impact. As a psychologist, this makes great sense to me: instead of de-motivating folks with their footprint, keep them enthused and working on building their handprint.