I've worried about my carbon footprint, I've read about how much carbon is produced by a car, a train and a plane traveling the same distance, and I've even written about how to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases I spew into the world. I'm vegetarian, choose to walk instead of taking the car as often as my legs will carry me, and wash my clothes in cold water — all at least partially in hopes that I will reduce how much effect I have on a warming planet.
But do I know exactly how much carbon my lifestyle actually produces?
Not really. I could estimate it, using one of several calculators online of course. But I don't really know.
As I've learned from calorie tracking, keeping a food diary, and from tracking my progress in saving money and spin class dashboards, data can change behavior. And I'm not the only one who changes her behavior based on information: Homeowners who are able to track their home energy use not only save money, but decrease their greenhouse gases by using less energy.
Information is power.
So why not have a better understanding of your carbon footprint by directly measuring it? That's exactly what Layer Design's Worldbeing does. The wearable, which is made from recycled e-waste, keeps track of your impact (like a Fitbit does your exercise habits).
How? Working with the Carbon Trust, a U.K.-based organization that has plenty of data and algorithms about how much carbon various activities take, and what products produce as part of their lifecycle, the wearable talks to the smartphone app to give you real-time data.
Track your type of travel automatically through the wearable, things that you buy through connected credit cards, food that you eat, and how much energy you use around the house (via synced smart meter data) to get a solid understanding of where and when you're a carbon hog. The idea is that there will be very minimal manual data input and that the combination of the device and the app talking to other devices will break down your carbon usage levels into easy-to-understand data points.
You can set goals for your carbon use (and adjust them down over time as you gain a better understanding of what you do that generates the greatest amounts). And of course there's a social aspect to the app as well. You can challenge friends to lower their carbon footprints in certain areas and compete with them.
So what's the caveat? Right now, Worldbeing is just a prototype, so its availability sometime in the future, but the video projects 2017 in its timeline for early adopters.