We have all heard about ecological footprints: the demands that each and every one of us makes on the Earth’s ecosystems as we go about our day-to-day lives, not just with cars and air travel, but also by heating our homes, washing our clothes, even eating. After the footprint, now comes the handprint, a measure of the things we do that have a positive environmental impact.
According to the EPA, human activity – yes, that means you and me – is most likely the biggest cause of climate change: we are endangering our own future as a species.
To help keep us on our toes, there are already several apps and websites out there that allow us to trace the negative impact of our actions in more detail. Projects such as Oreoco, an app launched last year, put a carbon value on each of your day-to-day decisions, and compares your footprint with your friends, while the Ecological Footprint Calculator from the WWF lets you calculate just how many planets would be needed if everyone lived a similar lifestyle to you. The results of such calculations are often shocking, not to mention deeply depressing. So, if we’re to blame, how can make amends? Can our power for doing damage be channelled into “doing good”?
This is where handprinter comes in. Flipping the concept of an ecological footprint on its head, this new app lets you measure your “handprint” instead: all of the actions you take that have a positive impact on the environment. The more positive actions you do, the bigger your handprint. Choose from the range of suggestions they have in their database, or come up with your own ideas and add them to the collection. Ideas include no- and low-cost actions such as replacing your shower head for more efficient water use, as well as initiatives that require more time and effort, such as improving insulation around the home, or installing double-glazing. Whenever you pledge to undertake a positive action, your handprint increases. If you encourage your friends to do the same, and their friends too, it gets even bigger still.
Visit handprinter.org to take a peek at the beta version, link it up to your facebook page, and maybe even get a few tips for positive actions that you can take right now. Ideally, the makers hope that the app will have the capacity to go viral, allowing users to see the ripple effects of their positive actions spreading through their own communities and further on out into the wider world. It’s a concept based on mutual inspiration and motivation, and one that could really take off. If it does, you may soon be using that ecological handprint to give your friends a high five, or maybe even yourself a pat on the back.